Ode to the “Spirited Ones”


    Cheers to the spirited ones, the energetic, the spunky, the precocious, and all the other euphemisms people politely use for you instead of a total handful.

    When people talk about wanting a demure little girl instead of a wild little boy, I literally laugh in their faces.

    In your hot little hands, you grab live fish, expensive objects, and my sanity. And then you squeeze with reckless abandon.

    You see a new dinosaur exhibit at the museum that all the other kids are afraid of, and before I can catch you, you scale the security wall and try to climb the dino’s leg.

    When you were 3 years old, you walked up to a group of 8-year-old girls playing princesses on the playground.

    “Who is your queen?” you asked.

    You then introduced yourself, looked around the circle of girls, cleared your throat and announced that you were their queen.

    You have the greatest imagination, but refuse to play alone — insisting I take on the personalities of seven stuffed animals simultaneously while you loll on your bed, directing and critiquing my dialogue and plot structure.

    Once at a baseball game, you picked the man who looked the least comfortable around kids, sidled up next to him, introduced yourself, patted his leg, and offered him a sip from your water bottle.

    “What are you doing honey?” I called over, flashing that apologetic smile I flash 500 times a day.

    You smiled at me wickedly, “just talking to strangers.”

    Taking down the queen, naturally.

    We waited a long time to have a second because we honestly weren’t sure if we could handle another you.

    You refuse to be labeled, to be boxed in by society’s standards of what is expected of you. You jump off cliffs, roll in the mud, race the boys on the playground but are obsessed with femininity, constantly complimenting other women’s nails, hair, dresses and jewelry — charming the pants off of them while I’m picking oatmeal out of my hair and trying to catch my breath for the first time that day.

    Often we muse that you’re either destined for extreme greatness or prison — we can’t imagine anything in between.

    We think you’re brilliant, but maybe you’re just average, and we know we need to be OK with that, too, because a challenging kid doesn’t always mean special or gifted or easy in other ways.

    You refuse to be my masterpiece — my monkey, my cute accessory piece — because you’re bent on becoming your own masterpiece, whatever that ends up being.

    As I guess kids are intended to do, you humble me daily and make me question my ability in all areas of life — mother, wife, sister, teacher, manager, boss, daughter and human.

    You keep me on my toes, you bring me to my knees, and you ensure that my house is always stocked with wine.

    Maybe karma won’t smile on us; maybe you won’t be a mellow teenager or a responsible adult. Maybe this is you. Fearless, insolent, charming, and possibly a sociopath.

    You madden me, you magnificent, 3-foot-tall beast, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

    In fact, I’d be lucky to be a little more like you as I grow up, too.

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    Julie Cohen
    Julie is a co-founder and contributor of Military Moms Blog. She also is a freelance writer and editor living in northern Italy where her husband is stationed in the Air Force. They have a little girl who spends most of her time (successfully) convincing her parents to buy more gelato, and a baby boy who they suspect already speaks better Italian than they do. Julie is the former food and wine editor of the San Antonio Express-News and former managing editor of Sauce Magazine in St. Louis, Missouri. which is where she calls home — but her dad was in the Army, so nowhere is technically home! She also has taught high school composition and British Literature, adult creative writing and college writing. Julie completed an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. In her free time, Julie enjoys running, reading and “studying” the varietals of Italy.


    1. This made me smile and brought a little tear to my eye. This is my child, my wild boy, who I literally think sometimes what if I just set you free, he pushes me to my limits EVERY single day… yet when he tucks in to go to sleep I cant help but think about how much i love every little part of him and his craziness. Helps to know other mothers get it 😉 Thank you for sharing from Mid-Michigan Moms Blog!!!

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