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It's ok to not like your kids sometimes...

My daughter is frequently a foul-tempered, scratching, clingy, horrible little creature we aren't sure we want to be around. And my son can be a manipulative, biting, spitting, insensitive jerk.

It's ok to not want to be around them when they're that way.

Sometimes, it's hard to come to terms with that as parents because we're constantly in this "unconditional love" mode where we believe we have to "love" our children everywhere, at all times, in all circumstances. I am here to tell you that isn't the case. Don't feel guilty. You don't like them. It's natural. You're not a bad parent. In fact, you're probably a good parent because you're figuring out that family doesn't change...but behavior can.

My daughter can also be a kissing, dancing, playful, giggling, friendly, polite, talkative, patient girl. My son sometimes asks us to sit next to him first thing in the morning so we can eat breakfast together, hug, and talk about plans for the day. If you're lucky, you'll get a kiss. If you're unlucky, he'll whack you in the head with a boot he doesn't want to put on.

Such is life with preschoolers. Life is difficult for them in ways we don't really understand. We try to keep that in mind always. Their brains aren't baked. Their moods require constant moderation. They have no previous experience to draw on. They don't need us for guidance so much as patience. Patience that we are very, very short on when most-needed.

It's been a very different experience with each of our kids, too. My son has only late come to more mature emotions and perspective. We found him sort of cold and aloof until the last few months when he's become expressive not only language-wise but affectionate. My daughter is the opposite. She lacks his independence and needs constant supervision and attention. Look at me. Dance with me. Watch me. Play with me. Come with me. But she's already in touch with her emotions in ways her brother never was at this age. She very clearly is happy and sad and says so. In fact, it's almost cliche that something or other scares her, makes her sad, or makes her happy...usually in a two word communication of such. Not that you need to do anything about it, mind you. It just is. She's scared, wants you to know, and nothing you're going to do is going to change that. She doesn't want to be held for a reason...she just does. Her brother, on the other hand, always has a reason. Often it's a magnificently weird reason. He needs an orange because we eat oranges before crackers and when he wakes up from nap he wants crackers. That's not a rule we made. That's a rule somewhere in his head. Not a rule per se even. More like an arbitrary enforcement of a temporary preference. Even he knows he's being silly.

It leads to some very odd, conflicting emotions as we try to keep these two differently-functioning beasts not at each other's throats. They play differently. They think differently. If I didn't know better, I'm not sure I'd think they're related to each other.

The other day, they tried to play with the dollhouse together and it ended miserably. Cole wanted an orderly lineup outside the door for people to file inside. Leda wanted the dog upstairs in the bed and the kitchen table above the garage. Oil and water, dear reader.

And take a deep breath. Breathe. Relax. It's ok to throw your hands up in the air and not really care. In just a few years, I'd tell them to sort it out for themselves but we're not there yet. For now, I'm forced to play unwilling referee to their sibling rivalry.

Call me when you want to snuggle and watch hockey. Come to grips, all you overzealous parents, with the fact that you created a person. A human who has a favorite color, would rather watch a different tv show than you, and doesn't feel like chicken for dinner. I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that this is a relationship like any other. And, parents, we get to choose how we engage in that relationship.

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