Rock, Her Gypsy Soul

Boheme. She was named after/because of/with great respect for she who disregards conventional standards of behavior. And, well? She's living up to her name. She's living up to her name in a way that I have been grappling with for the past couple of months when she went from "silly boisterous Bo" to "WHO ARE YOU AND HOW DO I EVEN... WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHY!??? OH MY GOD, SHOULD I JUST LEAVE? HOW ARE WE EVEN... NO. I CAN'T. BUT I HAVE TO. BUT I AM SO TIRED YOU'RE KILLING ME, SMALLS. YOU ARE KILL.ING. ME.
I didn't realize how easy my other kids were until I had a child who wasn't... who isn't. Bo is more work than Archer, Fable and Revi combined and when I'm alone with all four, it's usually me pulling Bo out of a tree she somehow managed to climb while holding my sunglasses which are now broken all the while her siblings link arms and sing skip-to-my-lou down the sidewalk with halos hovering over their heads.
Bo is the kind of kid who, instead of asking for an apple slice, will push a chair up to the sink, grab a knife and attempt to cut an apple herself. And then when I'm like BO WHAT ARE YOU DOING? She's like, "Oh, hi Mom. I'm cutting an apple with a knife. Want some?"

Bo is known to sneak away and join other families at museums, climb into the laps of strangers and ask them if they have a rash. (She is obsessed with asking people about their rashes because she rashes easily and "rashes" are now her favorite topic of conversation.)

Bo's hobbies include standing on tables, bathing Fable's dolls in the toilet, breaking anything that is breakable and hiding in my closet behind my long dresses and then laughing when I (finally) find her because HA HA HA, GOTCHA.

Bo can run faster than her eight year old brother (not to mention, me) and can go days on no sleep without yawning or, you know, taking a breath. She is the last to fall asleep and the first to wake up and has more LIFE ENERGY than anyone I have ever met.
All of this will serve her well someday. She will eventually find a way to harness her strength in a way that will benefit others, of this I am certain. Because underneath the rough and tumble crazy is an affectionate hugs-for-everyone-let-me-look-deep-into-your-eyes-and-download-the-contents-of-your-soul spirit that blows our everloving minds even though sometimes being her mother/father/sister/brother is a full-time job. (Bo is no longer allowed to go in Archer and Fable's room because she was Bull-in-a-China-shopping the place.)  The kids have to keep everything out of her reach and hidden away. Otherwise homework disappears and rainbows get scribbled over and and and and...
Meanwhile, Revi, her mild-mannered roommate (who is completely OCD about her tea parties and organizing every single thing just so in little containers) lives in constant fear of Bo being like, "nice castle that you spent an entire hour building. NOW I WILL BODY SLAM IT AND STEAL YOUR BABY PURSE FULL OF RANDOM OBJECTS AND LOSE ALL OF THEM!"

On the other hand, Revi has served as a sort guardian angel to Bo's recklessness. Revi is the voice of reason to Bo's HEY, LET'S SLAM THIS DOOR ON EACH OTHER'S FINGERS DOESN'T THAT SOUND FUN AND THEN WE CAN UNLOCK THE GATE AND GO FOR A WALK DOWN THE STREET BY OURSELVES!

A few weeks back I posted a little bit about our struggle on Instagram (these comments are amazing, btw. As are these.) and since it seems many of you are going through the same kind of AHHHHH as it pertains to your "spirited" child, here are some things that have helped me stay sane in the wake of... well... Bo's wake, AKA ten ways we are currently surviving (and occasionally thriving) life with our overwhelmingly insane/beautifully unique/completely amazing/wild child.  ED: This is what works in our household and is in no way expert information. 

Ten Ways We Survive the Wrath of Bo

1. Give her jobs - The other day I realized that if I gave Bo a Dustbuster and told her to "vacuum the hallway" she would do so with joy and excitement until said Dustbuster ran out of electric charge. This is also a metaphor.
2. Create quiet times in the day - This is a PC way of saying that television is our friend. Revi couldn't care less about television but Bo will sit and watch an entire movie without moving. INTO IT.

3. Present her with Options. (No yes/no questions.) Asking Bo "if she wants to sit down in her chair instead of stand on the table" is passive aggressive at best and OF COURSE she wants to stand on the table. Duh. So... here's how we do: "Bo? You can either A. sit down and eat your dinner, B. not eat your dinner at all. OR C. stand over here and wait until everyone is finished eating and eat your dinner alone which might be kind of boring. What'll it be, sister?"

4. TIME OUTS = OUT TIMES A while back I was told that "timeouts" aren't ideal punishments because they "alienate" children. Okay, well you know what? I disagree. Sometimes we all need "out time" and kids don't typically put themselves on notice. Not Bo, anyway. (Archer has always put himself in time out. Even at age two, he would go into his room and close the door if I got angry with him. Which is why I'm a tried and true believer in timeouts. Because Archer is my parenting guru and he used them on himself and they worked. BAM.) So? Timeouts are a thing in our house. Especially for Bo who is in timeout AT LEAST once a day. And every time she emerges a new woman. She understands that this is her time to regroup and even though there is no lock on the door and she can open it herself, she doesn't. She yells at me and kicks the floor and after five minutes or so, I ask her if she's ready to try this thing again and she says, "Ohhhhhkaaaaaaay."

(Revi has been known to break her sister out of timeout in which case I usually "look the other way" because I think it's important, given their own conflicts, to band together at my own expense sometimes.)

5. Applaud behavior that is satisfactory. If Bo lets me put a sweater on her without a fight,  hands over Fable's toothbrush nicely without throwing it, shares the wagon with Revi on her own I go bonkers with happiness. ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR DOING SOMETHING COMPLETELY RATIONAL! This way, she doesn't feel like the only time she gets attention is when she does something... not rational.

6. Dance parties - I've said it before and I will say it again, here. Dance parties are good for morale. We also have a "GOOOOOO, BARF!" family chant-thing we do when the kids are fighting. Because WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM, YOU GUYS.
7. Never Make an Empty Threat - It is a bad idea to make threats anyway but even worse, when the threat is empty. "I'm going to take away your treat if you don't sit down" and YOU BEST BE TAKING AWAY THE TREAT. Otherwise, nothing will mean anything ever again. Parents who cry wolf = parents who cry.

Words mean EVERYTHING. (Unless, of course, they mean nothing in which case, everything falls apart.)

8. Be outside as much as possible - Some kids (and adults) just need to take it outside. Where the air is clear and the space is open and there are fewer breakable objects.
9. Pick your battles, man.  You don't want to wear shoes to play in the backyard? Fine. You don't want to wear shoes to the park? We will not be going to the park. Giving children (especially a child like Bo) room to make her own decisions from time to time can be empowering for everyone involved. I respect your voice, now you respect mine style.

10. Embrace the Tao of Tantrums. I look forward to tantrums with enthusiasm because when they end (which they undoubtedly do) the sky will clear and Bo will breathe a sigh of relief for having gotten all of THAT out of her system. (I used to do the same thing when I was Bo's age. I'd have the most epic tantrum ever and then, afterwards, would tell my mom, "I feel much better now.")

Sometimes, we just have to get it out and move on.
Every day I remind myself that we all have our strengths and weaknesses and at certain times our strengths become our weaknesses, our weaknesses our strengths. Bo is going to set the world on fire in a way that I will no doubt be proud of. It is my job to hold her hand until she holds mine back. To tell her no until she figures out how to find that word in her own bag of tricks.

In the meantime, friends with "spirited" children, I remain your comrade in the battle of wills. May the force be with us all