In Defense Of My Wild Child


Dear fellow nursery school moms, people in grocery stores, the teller at the bank, the receptionist at our doctor’s office and relatives who would love to say something but wisely refrain from doing so, I see you there. I see your raised eyebrows, and poorly hidden expressions of shock at my child’s behaviour. And I certainly feel your judgement.

I can hear the questions rolling around in your brain that you are dying to ask, but manage not to. I can also see you biting your tongue in a desperate attempt to stop yourself from telling me exactly where I am going wrong as a parent. I see you.

Guess what? I have three other children at home who behaved exactly the way you all expect children to behave. Children who always listened and never strayed from my side while we were out in public. Children who smiled politely when spoken to, and who always remembered their manners. Children who would have made you very comfortable and confident in your opinions of my ability to raise them.

And then I was blessed with a fourth. A little firecracker of a child who not only marches to the beat of her own drum, but who would happily smash that drum into a million pieces to avoid falling in line with the rest of the group. She is a wild child.

And trust me, I am regularly just as shocked and surprised by her behaviour as you are. Remember, I have three more at home, and I am baffled on a daily basis as to how my fourth could be so different. I didn’t eat differently while I was expecting her. I took my vitamins. She isn’t being raised in a different home or under different circumstances, so if she surprises you, you can imagine how often she surprises me.

And I fought her personality. Oh how I fought it. I was determined that somewhere in that little body there must be a complacent and easy going child, just like her older siblings.

Surely it was just a phase. Maybe a bad day, or a challenging week. There must be some explanation. And then finally one day, while watching her as she refused to listen to something I asked her to do, I took a step back and a deep breath. Instead of getting angry and defensive at her refusal to blindly follow my rules, I looked in her eyes. I really looked.

She wasn’t intentionally misbehaving. It wasn’t her mission in life to do the exact opposite of what I asked, although it had certainly felt that way. She was my wild child. She was simply being fiercely and unapologetically herself. Her own person. And no amount of yelling and arguing and bribing on my part was going to change that. And do you know what? That’s pretty amazing.

In a world where society will try to tell her every single day of her entire life how she is supposed to dress, eat, talk, act, how much she should weigh, how she should do her hair, what she should want and who she should aspire to be, I am relieved to see her wildness. It is my desperate hope that she will continue to be fierce in who is she and what she wants. I hope with all of my heart that she will balk at conventions and refuse to blindly follow societal norms. I want her to stay wild. And I know that she will go on to accomplish amazing things. She will accomplish them while being confidently and unapologetically herself.

But I have many years and a long road ahead of me, probably mostly uphill. And I will have to remind myself daily that while I am teaching her, I don’t need to tame her. And I will continue to take deep breaths and steps back. And while I continue down this road, unless you are offering me a strong cup of coffee, a hug or perhaps a glass of wine, please keep your raised eyebrows and shocked expressions to a minimum. Thank you.


This post originally appeared on Is This Chocolate Or Poop?

Jesica Ryzynski is a writer, coffee drinker and Mom to four children ranging in age from preschool to highschool. When she isn’t running the Mom taxi, or asking people where their socks are, she can be found writing about it all on her Facebook page or on her blog at Her work has also been featured on Her View From Home, Parent Co., Savvy Mom and Sammiches and Psych Meds.







  1. Jesica, you read my mind and published it. Good for you for recognizing her being. I also have a wild daughter and refrain from restraining her natural personality. I respect, and often envy, her inhibitions.

  2. I whole-heartedly relate. My daughter is spontaneous and free spirited and seems to have boundless energy. We get judging looks in public, but also lots of laughs from the folks who get it. I try to focus on how brave and unique she is and how that will inevitably change the world for the better.

  3. Oh my gosh, my daughter is the same way. While I don’t have others (…yet…) to help justify my parenting, she is absolutely my wild child. Today has been especially difficult, so this landed in my lap at the right time. I had even given her Tylenol thinking something *must* be wrong. Nope. Just busy expressing herself and her outlandish opinions. I absolutely see everyone turning and looking at me when she does her high-pitched shrieks and I want to crawl inside my purse and never come out. I hope we can find comfort in knowing there are other Moms of Wild Children out there ????

  4. Wow… I feel the same way about my Emily Kate (now 16). I have always said, “You meet some really cool people in life and you never think of how they were as children, but I know… I know because I’m raising one”. Hahahaha
    She is her own person… her very own person and I can’t take credit for any of it because I have faught it her whole life… but when Emily Kate was 12, I had another baby girl and she is exactly like her older sister. Almost amazes me how they are truly twin souls. It’s like I get a second chance to raise the same person in a whole different way. I am blessed with two very “wild” children.

    • Yes! Middle child is just so different to the well behaved ones above and below. Feisty, goes his own way, won’t be budged, bribed, cajoled or pushed. He’s the one I cry over and feel pushed to my limits with, but when he puts his arm through mine, I remember that he is my funny, loving, unique wee boy and I pray for all the patience and wisdom that I will need to guide him in his journey ahead. Stepping back is good advice because when he is firing off in all directions, my words just bounce off. Wait for the calm moments and rejoice in the fact that they are different to what convention tells us they should be. They are glorious!


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