Spring Fling

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The world is awash in silverlight, filled with rain and wind, like being on the edge of the ocean but with flowers. Everything's cold and soaked, the ground spongy and squelching as you walk. We always park blocks away from the ballet school and walk through the quiet neighborhood in the afternoons, on the way to class. Big old houses sit waiting for dinnertime. Things — petals and twigs and spidery stamen things — fall out of trees and swirl through the air as we walk. A cold wind blows up and a million drops of water land at once, a chilly, unwelcome wash. But the greens! Noticed nevermore than now.

Yesterday was one of those humbling parenting days, when the child lost her mind at go-home time, standing on top of the hill in the school play yard, enraged with desire to stay (though, naturally, we'd already stayed too long), shouting at the top of her lungs her intention to stay, furrowing her brow and stomping her boot as hard as she possibly could, running straight through a bed of thorn-covered rose bushes as if on fire, finally flinging a handful of pine needles and duff down the hill toward me at the bottom of it, standing in a group of parents, wearily pleading with my (bloodshot) eyes that she just come down now. Personally, I think I have an absolute shitload of stamina most days, but yesterday I hit the wall, a noodle cooked to the point of soggy. I stared back at her catatonically. The moms on either side of me recognized my glazed look and instinctively moved to prop me up, diagonal support-beams of commiseration and advice. "She's a very strong-willed child," said my friend Christina, mom of four, from four-year-old to teen, and a woman of experience. "That will serve her well, really." I nodded, all hope and fatigue. If I had been among any other parents than our Waldorf-school crew (a much more-evolved set than I, with few-to-no television-watchers among them), I likely would've been bellowing at the top of my lungs, "OH HO HO, MISSY, YOU COME HERE RIGHT NOW OR THERE WILL BE NO LITTLE EINSTEINS FOR YOU EVER AGAIN!!!!!" as I know for a fact that nothing would've gotten her down off that hill faster. But I couldn't do it, somehow, any more than I could, in that moment, bribe her with promises of mountains of sugar, though everything silent in me was frosting chocolate cupcakes and turning on Netflix faster than I could think. Anything, anything in that moment, where all I wanted was a hot bath and a book and a candle, or a down comforter to throw over my head, or a train ticket to Timbuktu. But somehow, at some point (oh, it got worse before it got better), I had hold of her hand and I didn't let go, Little Einsteins was (privately) denied her for the day (more howling), we made it home safe and sound, and all was soon enough right with the world. And today Andy is, thrillingly, blessedly home. Ah, sweet relief of reinforcements! 

Stacey was here yesterday, assembling most of the new (old) strips of fabric I have cut for new quilt kits, coming again in a few weeks. This time there will be fewer colorways but a few more kits available of each color. I've been thinking about how to offer these again and will talk about that next week, though I honestly don't have any very-much-better solutions, other than to say I will make more. I will make more, guys. I've got fabric coming in almost every day now. I'm by no means done with this, if you aren't. I'm committed to finding better ways to make it work, for both of us.

Dear little crocheted sweaters, I can't quit you. The green one (pattern from Mon Petit Violon), up there? I think it's finally the perfect sweater for Amelia, and she's actually been wearing it. Hallelujah. Success with something (anything! please!). Turns out light sport-weight crocheted sweaters are a great, swingy weight, and go fast, and look pretty, and are just all kinds of good for us right now. I used this pattern (my notes are on my own Ravelry page) and Swans Island Washable Sport in Fresh Water. For my next one, already started, I'm using the same pattern but in O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in Pasture Rose with the same (4.0mm) hook. Boom.


Since my daughter has been 2 (she's 8 now) people have been telling me that somehow this strong-willed stuff is going to turn out to be the best thing ever in the long run. In the here and now it gets very challenging. I had to laugh about the Little Einsteins.

Ah, yes. I'll email friends that "I've had a rough mom day" and they are always reassuring. No one more forgiving than other parents. No one harder on ourselves than ourselves!

When one of my sons was 4 yrs. old he always wanted to dress himself before going off to preschool. But this mommy had to also get to work on time. So sometimes I would just do his shoes myself so we could get moving faster. When I'd open his car door at his school, his shoes would be on the floor. There were so many little squirmishes in our battle of wills. He also went through a period when he wanted the same lunch everyday, and when I packed something different, it would come back home barely touched. Sigh!! I know these examples don't seem to have the heft of a full blown meltdown in a grocery store at the end of the day (there were those, too). But perspective has taught me that strong willed children have their perks when they are in their teens and into adulthood. We never had to motivate him to do well in school, choose good friends, plan for college, etc. The key to raising a strong willed child (any child, IMHO) so that their strong will is used for good for themselves and others is the life you model for them every single day in all the small and seemingly insignificant ways. Like apologizing when your wrong, like being honest in the little things, like caring about others around you. I would say, Andy and yourself have this in spades. Our son is 35 yrs. old now and married to a wonderful woman, they are 2 peas in a pod! Nowadays when I happen to be near a mom whose child is having a meltdown, I always let her know that there's no judgement on my part. I know what it's like to be responsible for an alien creature.

Mwah ha haaaaa, do i ever remember those exhaustive days! with two boys, twenty two months apart, raising them on my own as a self employed single mom. it wasn't easy, but it was also tender and fleeting, and i wouldn't trade any of it, ever. and now that they are off living their own beautiful separate lives thousands of miles away, i miss them with a fierce keening ache in my heart.
Amelia! i can't believe how much and how fast she has grown.
such a lovely post, full of softness and pink blooming things.
sending love xo Nina

Sometimes when my children would refuse to leave some place, I would slowly start walking away like I was going to leave them and sure enough, they would come running because in the end, no child wants to be left by their mother. Trying to reason with a bellowing child is pretty much useless.

We spent a week with my sister's family in Portland in June 2005, came home, and the next day I took my two tired kids, almost-5 and almost-3, to Barnes and Noble as a little treat to make up for leaving their cousin and coming home. Well, little miss almost-3 pitched a huge fit when we had to leave, and as I (outwardly calmly) carried her horizontally out of the store, kicking and screaming and clawing at me, I saw the sympathetic glances and thought, "Ah. I'm THAT mom." :) She's 14 now, one of the top students in her freshman class, feisty, warm, very funny-- still stubborn, but she catches herself at it. And she gets to help me with her little roommate, our caboose-baby who just turned four, in all his "charming" little-guy moments. It's an adventure. You're doing great. :)

I completely had to laugh at you referring to Andy as "reinforcements". It is what I've called my husband many, many times as he pulled into the driveway after being away - sometimes for a day's work, sometimes for a week or more. Even our older children (we have 7), will walk into a room and tell me that reinforcements have arrived just so I know he's on his way inside. I do remember one time that he came home and I was sitting outside while all our children were watching something on television. I told him I surrendered and refused to go inside. It was that kind of a day. I don't think I went inside again until several hours later.

Being Mama is the hardest work, it's also the most rewarding, just not usually at the same time.

When my daughter was engaged in one of these scenes in a pool change room, an elderly Italian woman came up to me, pointed at her, and said "children like these are hard on you but it's good later. She will be atrong". Now that she's a teen I see how true that is. In this world, a strong sense of self will carry them through all kinds of trouble. Her teachers say she's a leader and I am so grateful to that woman for helping me keep the faith. Amelia is learning who she is! It really is so wonderful. Hang in there.

I think it can (and did for me) get easier. My daughter was exceptionally strong willed as a child with a very big temper too. She was however, a delightful teenager and is now a lovely adult with a very self contained temper.

Some children need and want autonomy in their lives and from an early age. I tried to accommodate this by picking my battles and trying only to enforce my will over hers where it was really important that I do so (usually for reasons of safety).

This worked well for me as I didn't put my energy into pointless arguments over things like what clothes she wanted to wear but saved it for when it really mattered. (What mattered to me might be different for other parents). It worked and meant that she listened to me when it was important - e.g. there were no visits to the emergency department. It was less stressful to me and showed her that her likes and dislikes were valid too. I allowed my daughter to make choices and decisions that although sometimes were not what I would choose, ultimately didn't matter a jot. She seemed validated by this approach. I think she realised she was in fact choosing quite a lot of things for herself and she enjoyed that, just as we all do.

Things could be difficult to deal with at times (and yes embarrassing!) but the very worst times were all over by the end of primary school (11) and had peaked by 8 years old. Believe me we had some trials and at times it was very tough indeed! However she just grew into a lovely teen, and there were no worries with her, no rebelliousness at a time when other children are just starting to assert themselves and differentiate from their parents. I believe she just already had it out of her system and felt no need. She decided that her temper did her no favours and it was rarely seen as she got older. Throughout we maintained a very happy relationship. I was not her 'friend' as I parented her for sure. I tried though to be a friendly parent.

Having a strong will is a good thing but it can be exhausting to parent. No one gets a totally easy path through parenting. I had an easy baby, but was kept on my toes a bit later on.

Mine was about 2.5 years old. We'd been in a bookstore and it was time to go. He wanted to stay. we dragged him, screaming out into the Mall and then left him wailing on the floor--we sat on benches. His 4 year old sister was embarrassed. Well meaning strangers tried to comfort him--he tried to kick them.

We waited till he was exhausted and then picked him up and carried him to the car. Last time my husband EVER came to the Mall with us (he was stunned and embarrassed ). The next time my son did the tantrum thing was at home in the kitchen. I got down the floor and copied his every move and shout. He stopped , looked at me like I was insane and NEVER had another tantrum. That doesn't mean the remainder of his childhood was pleasant. There just was never another tantrum.

Oh, Alicia, I love your stories. And would give much for such tuntrums if only someone would called me "mom" at the end:) I've never really liked crochet closes, but I love this little sweater. And her dresses, oh my! That colors! I've found some that you've shown us, made by you, but many unknown. And so happy to see Clover:)

Nicoline Bostens says: April 14, 2017 at 02:15 AM

I LOVE your blog, and look forward to your gorgeous pictures and stories that go with them!
Yous story about the terrible tantrum, made me remember one too, many years ago. We had adopted our little boy from China, and he was 4 at the time, spoke (plenty!) chinese, no Dutch yet. How did we communicate, with our hands and feet, worked really well.
Pretty soon he could make himself clear, also with signs and hands and feet.
One day, we were out somewhere, and ready to go home. So, we gathered our things, and walked over to him, and picked up his things, wanting to carry him too....He started crying really hard....He was right in the middle of something, and we'd just ended that, just like that, no warning....He was so sad, mad and unhappy....what could we do?
well, what came to us, is the strange thing, that when we go someplace, or visit friends, we talk things over with our husband/wife, but not with the children...Discussing the time we'll go home etc.
So, what I learned from that, from then on, we always went over a short while before we were going to leave, and just said "we're leaving in 10 minutes", even though they were too young to understand what 10 minutes was, it gave them the idea that soon we were going.
It helped so much! Not a tear anymore, and later I mentioned it to a teacher, who admitted she had never thought of that.....
Sorry, this has been such a long comment....I just wanted to share it, hoping it'll help anyone out there, and I hope many tears or tantrums can be prevented!
With best wishes from Holland, and Happy Easter!

Kirstie Irving says: April 14, 2017 at 02:33 AM

Hang in there! You're doing a great job! Because of the age gap between my children, I have been parenting for 26 solid years now, and teaching littlies for 16 of those. If there's one thing I've learnt over all that time, it's that none of us have all the answers. Some days one thing works, another it's something else.....and we ALL go to bed wishing we'd done better! Thank you for the lovely photos....especially the "good toes, naughty toes" one (I was a professional dancer, and it took me back!). Keep your chin up! X

Laura Smartt says: April 14, 2017 at 03:50 AM

Oh boy been there! I was one of those gals who would see kids throw tantrums ( before I had my own mind you) and think that that mom needs to control her child!!! Boy have I ate my words. Geez. Kids will make you humble. Especially out in public!

Michaelanne Neal says: April 14, 2017 at 03:54 AM

Alicia...You are beautiful! I love your writing SO much!! Your blog makes me laugh..and cry. Your stories are priceless! Whatever YOUR Mother did to raise YOU should be written into parenting journals everywhere!! Love YOU!

Oh Alicia. As you can read from the other comments, many of us have been there! Some occasions lead to funny reminiscents when they are adults. My two, who are now adults, were very different: the first was like Amelia, strong willed and demanding of his way of doing things. He is a strong adult which is holding him in good stead these days. My second, was not. She was peaceful and quiet and acquiesced to most requests. As an adult, she is a a beautiful person who is having serious problems in a world that can be brutal. The second was easier when she was little, but I would go for the first with all his tantrums as he is now someone who can survive and thrive in this world. When little, he and I had many "conversations" about behaviour, but we both survived. Interestingly when he was a teenager I had very few problems with him. So do hang in there! As one of the commenters said, it doesnt get easier but we become more capable of handling this behaviour.

Your blog is so incredibly inspiring, whether it be your comments or photos. Thank you.

By the way, I am so glad that there will be another chance for getting a quilt kit. Personally, I would be happy to get the just the squares (quarters). They don't have to be sewn into strips. I just love the colour and patterns you choose--your choices are so beautiful.

Hang in there, Mommy. You are doing a great job!! We all have our bad days, even littles. Yes, I know the strong willed child well! When harnessed, it is such a gift to them. Gentle meeking is required. Step by step. Sometimes a very tedious process!

I wanted to tell you that at 54, I am learning to knit because of you and my little animal kits I purchased!! I'm loving it. I'm working on Kitty's wrap right now. So fun. Always wanted to learn, just never took the time. But my animals needed their clothing. And while I wait for some grandchildren to come along, I make toys just in case!!

My boy was the one who was a "strong will" child but he changed a lot. Thank you sooo much Alicia for posting about the crochet sweater. It's so good to see your work on that and the yarn you chose. Easter blessings to you!!

I've got a Waldorf kindergartener as well. I'd be willing to bet almost every parent in my class could potentially yell something similar:). Ours would just be The Magic School Bus or Curious George!

Wait. What?? Little miss is sitting at a sewing machine??? I can't even. I heart that so much. Also the declaring opinion and strength even tho it can be trying and exhausting. It WILL serve her well. Hugs and strength to you. p.

Our oldest son was very strong-willed as a child and on through the teen years. We just had to hang in there and be the parents. Today he is a wonderful husband and father, kind and considerate and a comfort to us. He even refers to himself as being a "brat" in those days. I always say that parenting brings out the very best in us and the very worst. But it is always worth our greatest efforts. And your efforts are one hundred per cent, Alicia.

Christine M says: April 14, 2017 at 08:16 AM

Bless you for the honesty amidst the beauty. It would have been so easy for you to cover up your moment of fatigue and frustration underneath the beautiful photographs of the moments of joy and bliss. But the honesty soothes the hearts of all the moms, both those who are currently in the same struggle as you and those whose opportunity has passed as we look back on the time our children were young and wish we could have done things differently in the moment. Offering the beauty and the frustration makes the picture whole.

Alberta J Mellon says: April 14, 2017 at 08:20 AM

You describe spring beautifully. Big old houses sit waiting for dinnertime. Things — petals and twigs and spidery stamen things — fall out of trees and swirl through the air as we walk. A cold wind blows up and a million drops of water land at once, a chilly, unwelcome wash. But the greens! Noticed nevermore than now. Love your blog. Been reading for years and am not a mother or crafty so really we have little in common. Except maybe the love of beauty.

Oh I remember those parenting days..... My boys are now 17 and almost 16....Is it weird that part of me misses those days? Hang in there with your little strong-willed one; it gets easier. soon. :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.