“Youuuu can’t caaaatch meeeee!” six-year-old me challenged my Dad as he quickly side-stepped toys and lunged in an effort to swat my behind. I was in trouble. Again.
Then there was the flat screen TV incident a year later, when I intricately carved my older sister’s initials into the upper right-hand corner of our brand new, 50-inch television.
“DAMN IT, KELLI!” my Dad yelled frequently… including the night I snuck a kitten home from my babysitter’s house in my backpack.
But that wasn’t quite as bad as the day I tossed lit matches from a moving golf cart and set an entire corn field on fire at the same sitter’s house.
Or the time I got kicked out of Girl Scouts for spitting on the troop leader’s daughter. Turns out being the top cookie seller five years in a row wasn’t even enough to save me from that one.
How about when I slammed a stapler on my babysitter’s hand because she wouldn’t let me play with my mom’s make up?
Or the time my neighbor and I somehow shot homemade, lime green icing on the kitchen ceiling, then didn’t tell my parents until much later, when the frosting was rock hard.
Then there was that Sunday 10-year-old me tried to mow but couldn’t figure out how to get dad’s big ass Ford tractor out of gear. So I intentionally rammed it into the side of our house to stop the forward motion. That went over well.
The list goes on… high school me vomiting all over the kitchen floor and my mom, in front of several friends who thought I was fake-drunk. (Oh hello there, low tolerance for alcohol.)
Frequent 3am drunk dials to my parents in college – including the time I got kicked out of a bar (and almost murdered with a high heel) for throwing beer on a bartender.
Can’t forget calling hysterical as I literally drove a news car toward a tornado during my first TV job in college.
You get the idea.
I pushed limits.
Never asked for permission.
Refused to take ‘no’ for an answer.
I was what you might refer to as a “challenging” child.
So my parents said it. Often. Sometimes angrily. Sometimes laughing. But looking back, I have a feeling they always meant it: “I hope you have a daughter just like you.”
I had no idea what I was in for.
Fast forward to June 11, 2015.
My water broke at work.
Seven hours later, after the easiest labor and delivery in the history of ever, her seven-pound, ten-ounce body slid out of my womb and into the world and I had a brand-new baby girl in my arms.
“Wow!” my mom said when she saw Lyla in person the next day, “She looks so much like you!”
“You think?” I asked.
But also, I should have known.
No, really… Should. Have. Known… I was suddenly face-to-face with the biggest challenge of my life.
She was such a needy baby – much more so than her two older brothers. And she only wanted her mama.
As a newborn, Lyla screamed in the car the entire five-hour road trip to visit my family. And again the next year, and the next.
At 18 months old, she screamed the entire flight to Florida. It was torture.
As an infant, she rejected naps, which made her an overtired mess all the time.
As a 2-year-old, she begged to nap, causing her to be so well-rested that she woke up in the middle of the night and binge watched cartoons on the couch for hours. Unsupervised.
I would find her passed out with the TV blaring when I woke up to get ready for work. That went on a good year-and-a-half.
And she was so damn sassy.
Her favorite word? “NO!” with a smile, as if it were a viable option.
She’s now six.
And undeniably just like me.
I have a video of her dancing and singing to Fireball by Pitbull. Naked. In front of a mirror. Not a damn care in the world.
She can fall asleep anywhere, at any time. And she does. But good luck waking her up – she just might kill you.
Lyla once got so mad at her BFF during their first sleepover that she refused to talk to or even look at her. It was so much drama that the mom texted me, asking how to handle the situation.
At dance class, my girl flat out told her teacher “no,” then cried at the end of class when she didn’t get candy.
A few months ago, the school bus driver wrote her up… because after asking Lyla to stop pulling down out of her coat and sprinkling it on the kids around her, my mini locked eyes with the driver and continued to do it anyway.
Holy. Fucking. Defiance.
Discipline rarely phases Lyla and she’s tough enough to go straight at her older brothers in a wrestling match.
But… my bougie little girl loves sparkles, dogs, unicorns, pretty dresses and all of the LOL Surprises.
She’ll often get my attention with a, “Hey Mommy? I wuv you. So much.”
She loves baking and crafting.
She loves when we wear matching outfits and hairstyles.
She loves to wear make-up and work out and run with me.
She puts on nice clothes, grabs a purse and gives me a big hug before pretending to leave for work.
And I melt.
I want my daughter to know life is beautiful and she can truly make it whatever she wants it to be. I want to tell her time and experience will teach her to channel her drive and determination in ways that help her succeed beyond what she ever imagined.
I so desperately want to tell my little girl to stay bold because the path of least resistance is not always the best one. I want to tell her being dubbed “aggressive” or “too much” by someone else is not her problem and not necessarily a bad thing.
I want to warn my daughter there are people in this world who will do whatever it takes to try and dull her shine... simply because she shines so bright.
I want her to know life – at some point – will inevitably bring her to her knees… she will feel lost, broken and alone. I want to tell her when that darkness comes, the only way out is to keep pushing forward.
But those are awfully grown-up conversations for a six-year-old.
So for now, I try not to lose my shit on the daily. I wrap her in hugs and tell her the most important thing she can do is treat others with kindness, love and respect. I also tell her it’s never OK to be dishonest or step on someone else to get what she wants. But when she does make a mistake, the very best way to get past it is to own it and apologize to anyone she hurt.
At bedtime, I ask all three of my kids about the best part of their day and what maybe could have gone a little better. I sometimes ask if there’s anything on their mind or heart. I tell them they can always talk to me or ask me anything… without judgement.
A few weeks ago after a particularly rough Saturday filled with defiance and plenty of time outs, Lyla and I snuggled into her bed, exhausted. The weight of the day hit me. Did I yell too much? Am I too hard on her? Did I show her the kindness, love and respect I drill into her every single day?
DID I SCREW UP MY KID???
“Hey Mommy?” she asked sweetly, breaking me away from my own thought monsters.
“When I grow up, I can’t wait to be a mom… Just like you.”
And I exhaled.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...