My husband has the most hilarious stories about his childhood. It was one of the things that attracted me to him; he would have me laughing until tears were rolling down my cheeks. What a crazy kid! It’s like a fun party trick – “Hey Steve, tell the one about writing your name in gasoline in the driveway.” I could just picture him as a boy, mischievous nature in full swing. It was adorable… until we had our own son.

Addison was strong-willed from birth. My body went into labor but he refused to make an appearance until threatened with a C-section, an appropriate introduction to the road ahead. He is an absolute copy of his father, from his beautiful eyes to his inquisitive mind.

It’s a good thing he’s so handsome; it won him favor as a toddler, even as I arrived at my wit’s end. Once when his dad dispensed a swat on his defiant little diapered bottom, Addison roared, “Spank me harder!” His first time mini golfing, I wouldn’t allow him to bat the golf balls and he wailed so loudly that park staff almost called the paramedics. At 3, he rode his tricycle down the steps because I told him not to.

All the Gusto He’s Got

There are other strong features about Addison that I notice as well. He’s full of passionate joy.  When he comes downstairs in the morning, he cheerfully runs straight to hug me. He giggles over inane things until the whole family is cracking up. I kid you not, he once paused a live play in Maui because the whole audience was laughing at his giggling. (I could see the lead actress was not amused.)

Addison is tender hearted. If I hurt myself, he is first to kiss my owies. He sobbed at the end of Free Willy. Addison is kind hearted.  He can strike up conversations with total strangers. As a preschooler, he climbed into the lap of the window salesman like he was a trusted old friend. (My turn to not be amused.) He is a brilliant boy.  He wonders aloud about rockets while brushing his teeth. He fills notebooks with diagrams of his inventions and relates every detail of his imagination to his family.

In short, Addison thrives on his ability to connect to people. He’s not the one to ever be described as a loner, or introspective, or one who prefers solitude. His chosen instrument is the drums, the loudest and most energetic instrument around, one that is least optimal for solos and sleepy lullabies. No, Addison wants people to engage with him in the boisterous adventure of life.

Made for Connection

What began to emerge was a pattern: he wants our attention, and for us to partner with him in play and creativity. He needs a higher volume of touch and talk than others. This is what balances his world out. Addison also intuitively understands the bank in his family relationships; that when he occasionally makes a withdrawal of our energy by acting naughty, he should make a deposit by showing us his sincere love and goodwill.

We began to understand that bank as well; that when we withdrew positive energy to discipline him, we had to pour in affirmation and affection. There have been long, rough days in 7 years, but he is easy to reconnect to at the end. It isn’t necessary to crush his spirit in order to train his will.

Full of Surprises

Addison is always surprising me. Just the other day he had a meltdown during home school because I critiqued his penmanship. He stormed up to his room wailing at full volume. I gave him a minute to get his bear, then held him while he sobbed. I joked aloud, “Today’s meltdown is sponsored by the letter ‘G’.” Instantly, the storm stopped and he began to belly laugh… and just like that, we were friends again. The funny thing is, Addison is the one who taught me to lighten up. Because sometimes its better to make jokes than demands, and it’s always best to choose joy over frustration.

Addison makes us work harder as parents, and it has led to Steve and I connecting with him on a deeper level. In his strong willed nature, he created parents with an even stronger will to see him thrive. He still has a huge reservoir of curiosity and mischief that needs directed. The wonderful part is that Addison trusts us. He responds to us to the same degree that we are patient and willing to work with him. One day he too will share childhood stories that make some girl laugh until she cries. I doubt I will warn her…

Written by Melissa Brendtro