If you have dramatic kids…you know what I’m talking about here. If you are curious whether or not your kiddo meets the criteria…rest easier – you would totally know it if drama coursed through your child’s veins. No questions asked.
A flair for the dramatic can take various forms. It could present as a need to embellish stories as mom or dad reads them aloud. It could show up as a love for costumes and creative clothing pairings. It could rear its head as incredibly strong emotions, either resting just under the surface or buried deep within. whatever form drama takes in your home, I – a fellow momrade trying to survive the Drama Days – salute you.
I have three girls, so drama is as much a part of the fabric of our lives as the cotton leggings they insist on wearing. Leggings trimmed with sparkles and lace. Usually worn under Princess costumes. And Pirate costumes. And even the occasional Construction Worker costume, because Handy Manny, am I right? (It’s a catchy show, what can I say) Don’t get me wrong, I know boys that are plenty dramatic too so don’t think for a second that drama is reserved only for females, but since our house is an all-female frenzy, I will speak to that which I know all too well.
Riding the emotional roller coaster of Big Feelings and Spontaneous Performances and the need for Free Speech and Free Clothing Expression can make for an exhausting day. Every day. Talking a crying 7-year-old down off of the ledge of hysteria because the collar of her school-issued polo is “just not flipping out the way I want it to, mom!” or because “I wanted braids and not a ponytail!” is the best life skills prep for later becoming a hostage negotiator that I know of. I should win an Oscar for the number of times I have made A Huge Deal about a type of bread or a certain ponytail elastic color or a pair of shoes in hopes that my 5-year-old will jump on mommy’s enthusiasm bandwagon and just wear/eat/select something already. And don’t get me started on the number of arguments I have broken up because someone stole someone else’s turn in the proverbial limelight during a family dinner theatre show or someone looked at someone the wrong way or someone breathed wrong on someone else’s doll/bear/food/clothing/toothbrush/etc.
With big feelings and big opinions comes great responsibility. It is like a house full of Peter Parkers up in here…except instead of spidey-senses and a desire to help people for the greater good of mankind, these are three tiny terrorists that are happy or sad all day long, on an ever-revolving carousel that I just can’t seem to catch a ride on or get to slow down.
But my dramatic sweeties also use their special brand of crazy for good. They make each other laugh when they get hurt. They make their family members feel like the most special people in the world, with grandiose displays of affection and declarations of never-ending adoration. They give generously and dream big dreams. Their excitement for life is nothing short of contagious, and they see the world for all the inherent goodness that it could possibly hold, instead of for all the negative, which is what more practical people (myself included) tend to focus on.
I know that God has huge plans for each of my girls, and that it is my job to cultivate their wild spirits into something that He can use as they grow and mature. I read a quote today, and it reminded me just how much our dramatic, wild, and big-hearted kiddos are like God. If you are familiar with Narnia, you will get what I mean:
Aslan is not tame…but he is good.
You read that right. Our God is a roaring lion. He is strong and powerful and mighty. He can bring men and nations to their knees…but He can also be gentle as a lamb. We must never forget that He is not some domesticated kitty cat here to sit prettily and purr on command. He is not tame…but He IS good. That same ferocity and that same capacity for greatness lives inside our dramatic and wild children. They are more like Him than we know.
But what about now? What about these long, trying days that are sometimes much harder than we’d like to admit? What do we do in these building years, as we work to help our children turn their wildness into something more mature than childish dramatics? Here are a few ideas:
- Give your little one a better outlet
– For us, this has meant different things for different kids. We have one kid that could legitimately grow up to be on Broadway. She thrives on being the center of attention, so giving her opportunities to be in plays and to sing or speak in front of an audience has helped give her a constructive outlet for her personality. We hope to find ways to get her even more involved in the theatre scene as she grows, too. For another one of our kiddos, I think that a more physical outlet will be the best option. We are considering ballet or even karate, and I have no doubt that a structured way to get some of her energy and emotions out will be huge in terms of taming her wildness at home.
- Offer options, not choices
– I am finding that allowing my kids freedom to choose is becoming a stumbling block in how smoothly our family operates each day. I plan this year to start offering options as opposed to choices. Sure – they still technically get to choose one of the options, but I am still in control of the options presented, hopefully eliminating a lot of the chaos and stress that tends to creep into our days. For kids that tend to collapse into drama when they do not get their way, this could be a great way to slowly let them gain freedom of choice while still keeping them safely within the parameters of what we as the parent know is best for the situation.
- Set clear expectations – for them and for you
– This is something else I plan to do better for my own family. It is easy to set expectations for my kids, although I could definitely do better with expressing those expectations clearly and consistently. I do, however, really need to work on the expectations I set of myself. If I go into a situation with a kid in tears, or with two kids fighting, for example, and I already know how I have planned to diffuse that situation, it is a whole lot easier to stay calm and to give grace than it is when I am flying by the seat of my pants, hoping that I will figure out a solution as I go.
- Give space for…space
– parenting our little wild things is hard. It just is. No one goes into this gig thinking it will be a breeze, but holy cow…sometimes you just want to throw your hands into the air and join in the weeping and gnashing of teeth happening all around you, don’t you agree? I think the best solution for days like this is space. Separate your littles for quiet time, and you take some too. If it is one of those days, trade off with your spouse or a family member or a friend when time allows and go grab some coffee or stroll through Target or get a car wash…ALONE. Because sometimes the best reset button for our own emotions is a little breathing room.