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Excuse me. I am not raising a sheep.

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I have been chewing on this post for over a week – which is probably best. If I’d written it earlier, I would have spewed all over the page. Hopefully, today, with a little distance, I will be much more grown up about the matter.

My six year old son, affectionately known as The Young Turk on Twitter, has his own way of viewing the world. And he has a very strong personality (I have no idea where he gets it). He describes the pictures he sees in the clouds, he expresses his opinions, he asks for what he wants. And when his emotions get the better of him – he expresses those too.

As I often say – “He is is own self.”

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is it tiring? Of course. Does he push me beyond my limits? Absolutely. Do I wish he were different? Never.

The grown-ups who “get” him see that he is a leader waiting for his troops to form. One teacher told me that his powers of observation far exceed his age. Another asked me to keep encouraging his story-telling abilities (at six he tells stories with a beginning, a middle and an end).

I don’t share this to brag. These are the UNcommon grownups in his world. The rare ones who take the time to actually “see” him.

See full size imageMore often, the grownups are always asking him to “behave like the other children”, forcing him to comply with rules they never explain, or overlooking his gifts and only seeing the fire his big personality draws.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am well aware that there must be rules and order with a group of six year olds – and we haves house rules here to keep things somewhat predictable and safe for all involved.

But as a friend of mine often asks “Which is more important, enforcing the rule or loving the child?”

I am ashamed to admit that there was a time when I erred on the side of trying to force him to be someone he isn’t. Believe me, when other adults start the lectures on my parenting, I am just insecure enough about my abilities in that arena to totally cave-in.

And I regret it.

I regret trying to shrink his personality. I regret not seeing that arbitrary rules ARE unfair. I regret overlooking him for the sake of fitting in.

Not any more.

I’ve finally blown a gasket. I can’t stop other people from telling me how to raise my child. (Why do people think they are free to offer up that kind of unsolicited commentary?) But I can absolutely change my response. Wanna hear it?

“Excuse me. I’m not raising a sheep.”

Waddaya think?!

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