For as long as I can remember, I have had a Type A, controlling personality. I am the lady in the grocery store check out lane that groups the canned goods and puts them in a straight line, holiday decorations are numbered and stored in color-coded tubs, and making (and checking off) a To-Do-List makes my heart sing!
I have embraced this piece of my personality and in most cases it has been an asset. But, in 2009, I met my match. My beautiful youngest son was an exciting addition to our family. When I was about 5 months pregnant we picked a name- Christian. But apparently he was having none of that. During both of my pregnancies I played music to my boys. They listened to everything from Bach to Pac and “Christian” loved Jazz. Specifically, Miles Davis. So What was his jam!
We never thought much about it until one day while shopping, a Miles Davis song came on and my pregnant belly began to wiggle and jiggle with excitement. At that moment we decided we had to change his name from Christian to Myles (with a “y” instead of an “i”). This may be the record for youngest child to get their way by stomping their feet!
Myles’ strong willed nature didn’t stop there. When he was 2, he refused to wear a bike helmet and preferred an ice cream bucket for protection.
When he was 3, his teacher asked the class to wait while she walked around the room to write everyone’s name on their papers. Myles informed his teacher that he could write his own name and he could do it himself. The teacher asked him to wait. Saying “wait” to Myles translates to “go for it at 100 mph!” So, he proceeded to go to the chalkboard, write his full name, and say, “See, I told you!” Needless to say, we got a phone call home for that one.
We also got a phone call when he high-fived the principal with his corn dog.
And, the phone calls kept coming. Everything from “he’s not using his listening ears.” to “he is a great communicator, but not always at the right time”. As a former teacher, I speak “teachereese” and all this was code for “Myles does whatever he wants and won’t listen to anyone”.
We tried every positive behavior technique imaginable and nothing seemed to do the trick. I felt like I had failed as a mom. Then my Type A personality went into overdrive and I became the zero tolerance mom. Any time he looked like he was about to think about crossing the line, I swooped in to correct him. This did nothing but create more conflict.
You know that truck commercial where the rams butt heads; that was us. My controlling parenting got us no closer to our behavior goals. I was hurting, desperate to find the magic trick that would get Myles to conform to what I thought he needed to be. Then it hit me like a freight train- Let go.
Let go, just like I let go of the name I thought he should have. Let go of the ideas of what I thought Myles should be and allow him to grow into his own person. Let go of being controlling. Looking back on this, it should have been obvious that I was not going to win with my strong willed child. It should have been even more obvious that it’s not about “winning” but about fostering his God-given personality and guiding him to achieve his heart’s desire. At the time, I let myself lose sight of what was really important.
So, given Myles’ knack for the dramatic, we dipped our feet in the acting pool and he took to it like a fish to water! Instead of reciting passages from Captain Underpants in the middle of a math lesson, Myles was able to take that energy to the stage. He found his outlet and he couldn’t be happier. My relationship with my youngest son has blossomed into everything I prayed it would be. So, to the Type A momma of a spirited child, let go, watch your child grow and enjoy the ride!