There are two children that a mother knows.
One is talked about at a parent-teacher conference. She is called “sweet,” “mature,” “caring,” and “aware” by her teacher. She is “a pleasure to have in class.”
This child is welcomed on playdates. Her mother is told by the moms who hosted her that the child is “so easy,” “polite and sweet.”
During doctor visits this child sits calmly, only getting agitated at the thought or sight of needles. When the doctor looks her over she laughs at the touch and knows to be still when her ears and mouth are checked. The doctor says she is a model patient.
The mother knows of another child. This child does not know a time of day that is not appropriate for testing any and all boundaries. She listens but then does the opposite and says she never heard you. She screeches for help to put on her socks, something she has been able to do for the past three years. This child does not know how to share or clean up or how to have a bath without splashing water outside of the tub. This child’s natural state is pouting. These two children were born on the same day, from the same mother, and reside in the same adorable body with the same brown eyes and the same soft hair.
The child outside of the home that the world sees is the child her mother has raised her to be. She listens, is respectful, is aware, is kind, is smart.
The child inside the home collapses from the weight of the daily expectations put upon her. The child inside the home knows she is unconditionally loved and cared for. So it is there she unleashes the need to react and engage and test without fear or rejection. This child inside the home explores her boundaries often with consequence of lost toys or time outs, but never with love lessened.
And sometimes these two children meet and figure out they can co-exist.
The mother waits for these moments, sometimes patiently and often times not so patiently.
For the child knows of two mothers as well.