A few days ago, Charlotte’s Pre-K class took a trip to Dewberry Farm, a local “farm” (it’s actually more low-key amusement park than farm). The parents came along, so I took the day off work to hang with my girl all day. The day before, we’d had a high in the upper 80s, sweating in shorts. But of course, the day of the field trip, it dipped into the 50s and the wind was blowing. Brrrr.
The kids had a really fun time, going from attraction to attraction, like feeding goats, riding on a trailer through the Christmas tree farm, and sliding down giant slides on mats (I did this one too- so fun!).
It was really interesting to watch how Charlotte behaved around her classmates and teachers. She was really quiet, really only talking to me. She enthusiastically participated in all the activities, but didn’t socialize with any of her classmates while doing them. I was also fairly surprised to see how obedient she was: she listened intently to all the rules and obviously was eager to please her teachers. She would definitely be classified as a “rule follower” by anyone observing her.
I say I was surprised because this is NOT how she acts at home, at all. I hear all the time about “eager to please” kids, and have never felt like Charlotte fit that description at all. I knew she behaved well at school and church (she is well-liked by adults and doesn’t ever get in trouble), but didn’t realize the contrast between those environments and home was so stark.
I love Charlotte so much, but she frustrates and exhausts me. She’s smart, verbal, and really, really stubborn. There are no long stretches of time in the day where we don’t have a power struggle. I keep waiting for her to chill out and get a little easier to live with, but at 4 years and 10 months, it’s not happening just yet.
I wish I knew the secret to bringing a little of at-school Charlotte home with me (and I wouldn’t even mind sending a little at-home Charlotte to school). I know, I know, kids act differently with their parents, and I’m her “safe” person, blah, blah, but geez. It just gets old knowing that all these people who aren’t her mom get to experience this sweet, respectful, calm little girl and I get a wild drama queen the rest of the time. I adore her and I know she loves me, but we often seem to bring out the worst in each other.
I want so badly to channel Charlotte’s “spirited” traits into good purposes that will make her a strong, take-crap-from-no-one woman some day. But right now, #lifewithcharnado is a lot of frustration on both our parts. She’s defiant, and I get angry. There are tears, arguing, yelling, apologizing. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I am so glad I had that day with this little girl, and got to see her how most of the world sees her. And I’m holding out hope that age 5 will be as good as I hear it is. I hope we can both offer each other a huge helping of grace and patience. Until then, we’ll keep at it, and sweeten our days with silly selfies, hugs, and hot chocolate.