Cry, the beloved child

Has your child ever made you cry?

Not the sweet-mama cry, the one where you’re overwhelmed with love or affection or a twinge of regret for fleeting moments.

The crying that you don’t share. The crying that happens in your room at night, the door shut. The crying that’s not sentimental. The crying that says I’m alone, I’ve tried, I can’t keep doing this, but I have to?

Have you ever cried because you didn’t know how to be a mom anymore? Because the new thing that was going to be the answer was failing miserably too, and you’d nowhere else to turn?

Have you ever cringed when the school’s number came up on Caller ID? Cried because it was yet another Bad Kid Call, and how were you going to handle it this time, because the last 50 tried-and-true strategies did absolutely nothing?

Have you ever cried because it had to be your fault? Except you knew it wasn’t, but it had to be, because why else was she like this?

Have you ever made weak, poor excuses to try to distract from your conviction, and everyone’s conviction, that you were doing it all wrong?

Have you ever faked it, pretended it was under control? “She’s having a bad day, I’m sorry.” “We’re really trying, she’s going through a rough patch, I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry, we’ll have a really long talk.” “I don’t know why she did that, she knows that’s way out of line. I’m sorry.” “She knows better. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”



Has it ever seemed like that’s all you ever say?

Have you ever dealt with a child who’s got behavioral issues? I mean for real. Not a tantrum phase. Not a mouthy phase. Not a kid who “simply” needs more discipline/less discipline/reward charts/privilege losses/more attention/less attention/a stricter routine/an unstructured life/an earlier bedtime/more protein/a diet free of wheat, dairy, soy, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, red dye, meat, or carbs . . .

Or for you to “just” read 1-2-3 Magic and all your troubles will magically dissolve?

The thing is, there’s no “just” this. There’s no “all you have to do is” that. And there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution.

But not according to a host of commenters–the majority, even–on a recent news story about a 6-year-old whose wild tantrum saw her handcuffed and brought to jail.

The story? Outrageous. The fact that the wrong video was paired with it? Also infuriating. But what really put me over the edge were the comments.

Comments from people who’ve never had to deal with a child like this. Who think that all you have to do is “not put up with this anymore.” People who assume, imply, outright call the parents losers, idiots, “a**hats,” horrible people who aren’t even trying to do their job as parents, who couldn’t be bothered teaching self control to the “monster.” Who refer to the kid with disgust: “the little brat.” “The little freak.”

So you’ve said your piece, commenters. And now keep talking, because I’m repeating my question: have you ever been the parent of a difficult child? Have you, commenters? Have you, staring crowds? Have you, eyebrow-raisers?

If you have, then you know: there’s parent struggling and child struggling and a whole lot of love and advocacy and frustration and denial and shouting and tears and confusion all rolled into one.

And sometimes it seems as though there’s a light at the end and there is hope and everything is going to be all right, and sometimes it seems as though you’re plowing through the muck and it’s never going to stop.

But if you haven’t?

Then don’t assume.

Don’t assume that the preschooler throws a massive fit in the aisle at the department store because her mom doesn’t know how to be consistent.

Don’t assume that the Kindergartner hits because she’s mean or because her parents are teaching her to be a bully.

Don’t assume that the child yells because his parents do.

Don’t assume that the kid’s misbehaving because her home life’s screwed up.

Don’t assume that a difficult child doesn’t have positive qualities, too.

Don’t assume the kid doesn’t care. Don’t assume the parents don’t.

Don’t assume that the parents aren’t trying everything, haven’t tried everything.

Don’t assume this isn’t breaking their hearts.

And seriously?

Don’t EVER.



Call a child a freak.


16 responses to “Cry, the beloved child

  1. I don’t like this I LOVE it! So true,every word!

  2. So well said for someone with such a young child πŸ™‚

    My challenging child is 15. The stage that started fifteen-and-a-half years ago when she burst out into the world has morphed from one “stage” to another. I’m starting to believe that this is a permanent thing (gasp)… this is her personality. When she was a pre-schooler she cried every single time we left her beloved toy library. We went there three times a week. She didn’t just cry… she kicked and screamed and pummeled me with her little fists when I had the gall to scoop her up under my arm. Oh, I tried the tricks. “We’re leaving in 5 minutes”. “Just one more story.” So many strategies, all of them pretty much useless.

    But wait – I’d like to reassess the whole challenging personality perspective. My daughter is 15, and she’s awesome. She’s independent, articulate, creative, active and confident. NOBODY pushes her around – she won’t stand for it. She’s learned patience, and she’s learned that the world is an imperfect place. She’s been picked on a bit (that whole mean-girl kind of treatment) because she’s a little sensitive. I would say she’s perceptive, and she’s not afraid to show it. She’s compassionate and caring and motivated to be someone who loves their life.

    As her mother I’ve learned that there are many good times to shut up and back off. She will almost always learn things the hard way; I can’t change that. I love how my daughter is self-reliant but yet still dependent in some ways. She looks for hugs, even in front of her peers, and she says I love you loudly and often.

    What a girl! What a journey! I may not be the perfect mother but with the help of my kids I’m learning a few things.

    • thetwistingkaleidoscope

      THANK YOU for that wonderful response! It brings tears and fills me with hope. Your daughter sounds awesome. Thank you again for the perspective of experience!

  3. Dito what Elia said! So true! It seems like everyone thinks their child is difficult – way more difficult than other children – but still THEIR little angel isn’t behaving agressively, so THAT family (that child and her parents) must have issues. Ugh! Never assume and never judge!

    • thetwistingkaleidoscope

      Yeah . . . it is really hard to understand and I think for some it’s just complete lack of familiarity with the type. I got some raised eyebrows from one of the (very nice) dance moms last weekend. She was asking me to explain to the Maiden that “we don’t hit”–she really couldn’t understand why my almost-6-year-old would act this way. She was very polite, but very puzzled. Sigh.

  4. This is painful, raw, powerful, and eloquent. Thank you for sharing this sacred part of your life so that there can be greater understanding. You are so right … people should not judge (period), but especially what they do not know. And to call a child a “freak.” It tears my heart out. I taught children with behavioral disorders for 10 years. And more than I wanted to teach them, I wanted to be their advocate. I wanted to remind the onlookers and the judgers that these children were people, too–with hearts, minds, spirits, and souls. And their problems are not the kind you can snap your fingers and fix. These kids need empathy and understanding, as do their parents. Is it too much to ask? For some, it is. But if each one of us can promote love, peace, acceptance and understanding to those who are struggling, we can make a difference. God bless you and your precious child.

    • thetwistingkaleidoscope

      “I wanted to remind the onlookers and the judgers that these children were people, too–with hearts, minds, spirits, and souls.” Love it! Advocacy and empathy–that’s the key, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s hard to raise awareness, though, because then you’re seen as just making excuses for kids and parents. (Sigh.)

  5. I love this! That’s all I can say. Love it!

  6. I saw that story about the little girl, and I wanted to go hurt some people on her behalf. Because seriously. She could have been my son. She could SO have been my son. Autism spectrum disorder with behavior disorders tacked on. He has DONE these things, and it is only the fact that the school knows I am pretty loud and public with my criticism that has kept him from a similar scenario. I wanted to hurt that principal who couldn’t get it together and show some compassion. I wanted to pop the police department that actually CUFFED the child. How dare they? HOW DARE THEY? And how dare the commenters on the articles, how dare the media figures portraying the story make it seem like that little kid was the one in the wrong? That her parents were? Couldn’t they see ‘distress’ and ‘crisis’ written all over the situation?

    My only remark is that the parents seemed (based on their limited remarks) to be in denial that their kid has a serious issue. They seemed to be at that stage where they honestly think this is normal in some way and not a situation where they need help to get their daughter the help she needs. My son has horrible days like this. He spends so much of his time struggling to manage his emotions, even now that he is in therapies and takes medications. I wish for that little girl the help she needs and for her parents the support system to get her that assistance.

  7. Pingback: The question I answer way too much » Mommy Confessions Blog

  8. Running from Hell with El

    Great post my friend! Thank you for protecting our children!! xoxo.

  9. I try so hard to never assume anything and I really feel for you in your struggles especially when it comes to struggles with other people’s attidues. πŸ™‚

  10. This is my life with my 7 yo. Lately it’s been nice, but she has me on a roller coaster. She will drain me dry and when I’m ready to scream “Mercy” she will turn into a sweet angel. Then we do it all over again. I’m not a bad Mom. She’s not a bad girl. The two of us just need to learn how to work together (which isn’t as easy as it sounds). Bless you and the Maiden. Hang in there.

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