I beamed and believed them. Secretly, I would notice the mom who did not have the kids under control. The child who was throwing food on the floor, the child who managed to rip all the books off the shelves in the library. Surely, the child needed guidance. Surely, it was the mom. Kids are blank pages we help to fill.
Then I had Spanky. Dear sweet Spanky. Spanky is that child the other parents look at in shock. At 14 months, he learned he could drag a chair across a room and get access to everything. He threw my iPhone in a pool, he enjoys running to the altar during church service, loves to hit anyone who disagrees with him, and, recently, has been on a quest to make my new carpet look not so new. And he is winning by the way.
After Spanky, we stopped going out to eat and opt for take out, books are ordered via Amazon (small price to pay right now) and almost all clothing is courtesy of JCrew.com (men's, women's, and children's inc. shoes).
Yet I did nothing different. I did the same parenting I did with the other children. I use the same reward/punishment system yet the outcome is anything but the same. So maybe kids don't come as a blank template waiting for our help. Maybe some come with the pretty flowery soft templates and others are more loud and geometrical. Perhaps, it is not as much a parent that determines a child's temperment, rather the child comes with his own ideas. And some children, even if raised by Mother Theresa are going to start smacking their brothers at the altar during communion. And some who, even if raised by the most self-absorbed mom on the planet, vow to fight world poverty before out of diapers.
I can't tell you why. If I knew, I am betting I'd win some Nobel Prize or something. Kids are different and it has nothing to do with the parents. It took Spanky to prove that to me.
Now when I see the mom struggling with the little girl who emptying ever sugar packet on the floor, I give a smile of support to the mom. I know how she feels. And I thank Spanky (and God for giving me Spanky) from the bottom of my heart for teaching me this.