I heard lots of stories about how the second child is supposed to be easy. Apparently my 5-year-old did not get that memo. She has been headstrong from the get-go — arriving early and in fairly good health. She cried heartily and loudly, and flailed her limbs about, making it difficult for the neonatal team to get her stats.
She never liked swaddling, slept in tiny snippets of time, and always seemed bored with nursing. She began to crawl close to 6 months, something I believed happened because she always looked like she wanted to move. Unlike my older child, a fussy eater, she was all about food. And not the baby purees; she went straight for the table food. At 18 months. she quit needing a nap. (The plus was that she finally started sleeping all night at that age too). She wears swimsuits in the middle of winter (not outside), and can negotiate almost as well as a teenager. She learned to read by the time she was 4, and is a non-stop onslaught of curiosity — the questions sometimes make my head spin!
A lot of what she does is on her own timetable though. Her fierce independence can be a blessing, but also frustrating. When it came to potty training, she staunchly resisted. We tried cajoling, rewarding, waiting and re-starting it all over again. At 3 years old, she refused to wear Pull-Ups and wanted only underwear. I did not want to put her in underwear because of all the accidents. So I explained to her about really needing to go potty if she was going to wear underwear, and she solemnly said "Momma, I love you. I want underwear please!" I'm not sure if she understood my explanation, but when I compared the cost of buying Pull-Ups with stocking up on a bunch of cheap underwear that I wouldn't mind tossing for really bad accidents, I said okay. I actually hoped it would help the potty training go better since the accidents would not be soaked up like in a trainer.
Silly me! The accidents did become fewer over time, but my daughter still resisted the potty routine wholeheartedly. She seemed almost lazy about it. She knew how to do it, but did not care one bit if she did not make it. It was a source of great frustration and even a little anxiety. This year I started wondering if there would still be problems when she started Kindergarten this Fall.
About two months before her 5th birthday though, she started to go more often. She would often wait until the last minute and still have the accident because it was too late, but the difference was that she suddenly seemed to care. She would race down the hallway — she was trying! When I praised her one day for making it on time, she told me that she can't have accidents anymore because 5-year-olds don't have accidents and she would be 5 soon.
I believe she may have heard it from a friend at preschool, but it didn't matter. It was typical of her character. Once she decides on something, her focus and effort are there, and she accomplishes it. The ongoing challenge I see with her is that there are times when she will have to do things on a different schedule, and I somehow will have to teach that we should give our best effort even when we don't want to.
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