“Mama, I need a drink.”

“I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Can you cover me up?”

These are a just a few of the excuses my five-year-old comes up with at bedtime. Top it off with whatever is going through her mind at the time that she wants to talk about and bedtime drags on and on for what seems half the night.

Needless to say, I get frustrated. No, frustrated isn’t even the word. Something like angry or furious are the choice words here. I lose it, y’all. I have four kids and she’s the one who pushes me day after day, night after night.

She is my spirited child. 

Most families have one right? That child who demands more time and energy than all the other kids put together. That child who stirs up resentment and anger in you that you didn’t even know you had. 

In our family her name is Brantley. The name Brantley derived from Old High German meaning “fire”. (Sigh) Yep, that’s her. Fiery . . . fiery temper . . . fiery spirit. She definitely lives down her name.

As a baby, she was so good. I never had any problems with her. However, something happened before she turned two. She wouldn’t stay in the bed, started fighting with the older kids, and she stopped listening. I chalked it up to being part of the “terrible twos” and accepted it, but here we are, three more years down the road and we’re stuck in gear and can’t get out.

This fire in her soul isn’t all bad. She loves with all that fire in her heart that will melt even the hardest of hearts. She’s funny. She’s witty. She keeps you on your toes and life is never dull when she’s around. A little crazy and hectic, but never dull.

She’s the only one of our kids who goes running out the door to meet her daddy after he’s been working all day just to rub his beard and give him a kiss and a hug.

I tell my oldest daughter all the time that one of these days, Brantley will be her biggest supporter. She will stand up and fight for her when no one else will. I think she takes care of her little brother better than I do. When he gets hurt, sometimes she’s the first person he goes to for sympathy or help.

My oldest son said something under his breath yesterday that made me think. He said, “things were easier before she came along.”

And they were. Life was much more quiet and easy.

Brantley brings a fire to our family that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I have to parent her in a way that is completely different from my other kids and that takes me completely out of my comfort zone.

But what happens when we’re moved out of our comfort zone?

We grow. My answer to him was that God doesn’t make mistakes and He placed Brantley in our family for a reason. And maybe this is it. To grow us. To stretch us out and shape us to be the people He wants us to be.

I’ve come to love her spirit and love her as she is. I always thought it was something I did wrong. If I had disciplined her more consistently or if I had been harder on her. I now realize that this is just the way she is and I’m good with that.

So, for those of you with a spirited child. I hope you take encouragement from this. You’re not alone. I’m on the struggle bus with this girl and I know countless other parents are, too. Remember, this child will help stretch you and reshape you into the beautiful person God has called you to be. Take it as it comes and try to love it.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Rebecca Toon

Wife of a rancher and homeschool mom to 4 rugrats. I spend my days helping my husband on the ranch and making sure my kiddos are somewhat educated.