I know that every kid is different and typically folks say that their second child tests them in ways their first never dreamed of. As far as I can tell so far, this theory is 100% true.
Violet seems to know exactly how to push me to the edge. She is defiant in a way Daniel wasn't until he was MUCH older. She laughs at my "no thank you's" and will turn around twenty times after I have redirected her away from something she shouldn't touch (outlet, vacuum, etc). She seems to have a gene for finding trouble - I swear she can smell it.
Figuring out how to discipline an 11 month old is tricky regardless of circumstance, but finding out how to set boundaries for one who has been both neglected and spoiled is RIDICULOUSLY difficult. Physical punishment is definitely not an option - it would sent entirely the wrong message. Verbal works sometimes (the aforementioned strong "no thank you") but sometimes it just elicits laughter. We actually wonder if maybe "no" was the word for something funny in Amharic! Putting her in a "time out" of sorts works occasionally - in a crib where she can see me but not touch me.
The worst part of this is me. Her testing brings out a side of me I didn't even realize was there - and it's ugly. Sometimes I respond cooly and calmly - like the textbook super parent. In those moments, I amaze myself.
But typically the anger rises up too quickly and I overreact to her behavior (and then feel guilty for either raising my voice too much or physically moving her too forcefully from the situation). The second after I overreact I know it in my gut - and you can't imagine the guilt that comes with treating such a fragile child with her history in that way. It's unbearable.
I'm getting better at walking away - calling Fernando for help when three rounds of "time out" still leave her laughing at my attempts to guide her behavior. I cannot imagine being a single parent. But sometimes there's no option to walk away - and it takes every ounce of self control to maintain my composure with her.
Even logically understanding all the reasons behind her behavior don't help me - I do understand a lot of it, and the emotional component still leaves me bewildered. It makes me wonder how God keeps his cool when dealing with us, and also makes me understand the Old Testament a whole lot better.
In my rational moments I understand that this is happening for me to develop my character - I apparently need a kind of calmness and patience I haven't needed before. If you are praying for our family now, please pray this for me! These first weeks and months are such a beautiful and critical time for Violet and I want to handle each and every minute with care and love.
I love her so very much... and the vast majority of our minutes together are just pure joy.
It's those pesky "button" moments that I worry will sour the entire batch.