Even on the darkest nights of colic-induced hysteria, I knew that Gracie was going to be a charmer. She has the same annoyingly gifted ability to make people like her even when you really want to kill her. I call that *charm*. And it will be what ultimately saves Gracie’s life because without it, I would not be able to handle that headstrong, opinionated, passionate, irrational, high strung firecracker on a daily basis.
I have learned that dealing with Gracie is like riding a bucking bronco. The more you push or pull, the more she is going to buck. And that has been a challenge for me because I’m a pusher and a puller. I only expect to give you my very best scary teacher voice once before you melt into a puddle and do whatever I’m asking you to do. Gracie, though, doesn’t flinch at even my very best scary teacher voice. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gracie flinch in her entire life. And so, the struggle for the past year has been learning how to teach Gracie without pushing. I have had a lot of bad parenting days as I tried to find this balance, but there were also some wins, too. And gradually, over the past couple months, I started having more good days than bad. And before I knew it, so did Gracie.
For the past month, Gracie and I have hit our stride. We are on the same page, walking the same pace, and speaking the same language (though, she can be difficult to understand sometimes!). I’m not quite sure what happened, actually. I don’t know if I have discovered the secret to raising Gracie (if I have, I have no idea what it is…), but I think most of the change has come from Gracie herself. She has started talking a mile a minute these days. Full, complex sentences, punctuated with foreign words that we don’t quite understand, and which prompt Chris and I to whisper to each other, “Maybe she speaks Chinese, and we just don’t understand her native tongue?” For the most part, if I understand the context of what she is saying, then I can understand her. But those times when she randomly walks up to us talking 90 miles an hour about something that happened in a different room that we didn’t see are tricky. Bean can understand about 80% of what she is saying most of the time, and that has been really helpful. But Chris and I are trying to get better at listening to Gracie speak so that we can understand her better. That seems to be the key to avoiding meltdowns with Gracie. She is not one to be misunderstood.
Another reason I think things are going to good these days with Gracie is because we are in water most days. When you live in Florida during the summertime and you want to be outside during the day, you best find you some water to play in. Anything else is unbearably hot. We rotate between splash parks around town, the water table on our back deck, the hose in the yard, and, of course, the pool. One of the things we read in the book, “Raising Your Spirited Child” was that water play for hypersensitive kids can be so therapeutic, and we have seen that first hand with Gracie. She is never happier than when she is playing in water, which has made this summer with her so much fun.
I think Gracie has grown through a really rough spot for her. 18-24 months was pretty tough at our house. But she seems to have turned a corner, and we are all loving this time with our sassypants little spitfire. Just as her Aunt Ginny, Gracie has a glorious sense of humor. And, though is seems crazy that she can understand this at two-years-old, she seems to know just when to use humor to her advantage. I guess it’s just all part of her charm…
Whatever it is – charm, perfect timing, growing up, communication, water play… who knows! – Gracie is blossoming into her little personality more every day. She is irresistible and hysterical and smart and fun. In short, she’s just the kind of daughter I’ve always wanted.