Yesterday was one of those days that tests your sanity as a parent. You know the ones in which you're sure that you're raising a kid you're that you're going to end up bailing out of jail one day- the ones in which flashbacks to the days that you only had a high maintainence dog to take care of make you smile nostagically. Everything was a test. Sticking muddy shoes on our legs repeatedly, wearing clothes entirely too warm for the day (didn't actually pick that battle), waving her soaking wet sleeves around so that water splashed all over me and her finally asleep sister. Wailing dramatically for every perceived injustice ("that chair made me fall out of it!!!""), then wailing more when no one really bought into the drama.
Then I check my email this morning to find an email from a friend directing me to this blog entry in which a mother is writing a letter to her daughter on her 18th birthday. That daughter sounds so very much like Dillon- minus the climibing to the top of the fridge to eat bananas part. It was a wonderful reminder that, as she makes the point, the qualities of thinking for herself and following her own path are not qualities that one develops suddenly as an adult- they are cultivated from childhood. Granted, they are much less polished in childhood, but this is where they start. I see passion and determination in Dillon. I see a person that is not going to do things just because other people are doing them- or even because someone else (including her parents) thinks she should. I see that quality of being able to think for herself that we as her parents want so much for her to have.
I'll admit, sometimes I do wish for that "good" kid- the one that obeys when I say to stop doing something that's annoying. Or worse yet, just not socially acceptable, but not otherwise harmful in any way. I sometimes wish she wasn't so persistent as to fight me every night for 3 years to brush her teeth. And sometimes I really, really do wish for an off button for all those questions. But mostly, when I can look at things outside of the moment, I can give those qualities some perspective, compare them to those same qualities she shares with her dad (proof they can be polished...) and understand that they will serve her well in life. She will be someone that can chose an unconventional path- much like her father (med school at 30 after flunking out of college at 21?!!!) and make it work for her.
I just pray I survive it.