Adoption, Parenting

The Unbreakable Evie Dale


I’m not sure what all the cool kids are calling it these days, but you know that thing when one of your kids is extra strong-willed and wants to fight you on every little thing?  Like they wake up in the morning ready to take you down and you’re pretty sure they’re going to eat you for breakfast and have their way with you?  You catch yourself practicing scenarios in your brain, like, “Okay, if she fakes left, I’ll go right and convince her the cereal is her favorite using my Jedi mind tricks.”

When I first locked eyes with Evie all those years ago I could see it in her gaze — strength, defiance, determination.  We’ve had countless battles of the will and she continues to befuddle me daily with her unwavering gumption.  She drives me to the brink of total face-melting every day, and I work so hard to stay one quarter of a step ahead of my obstinate, brilliant girl.

You know when you step outside of a situation and see your child in a different light?  You get a glimpse of how the thing that frustrates you the most is actually his or her greatest asset and you marvel at the way he or she is wired.  Today at the playground I saw it.  The strength of will, the unbreakable spirit, the courageous heart.

A couple of big boys were twirling on the merry-go-round when Evie came over.  She wanted on and they weren’t slowing down.  Instead of waiting for a break or asking for my intervention, she hurled herself at the merry-go-round, grasped the bars, and hung on.  She whizzed around and around, using her tiny strong arms to pull up onto the spinning circle, and she turned her face to find mine and grinned triumphantly.


She was a warrior.  Several older girls came over and cried for the big boys to “Stop!  I want a turn!  Mommy!”  But the boys, and Evie, kept spinning and spinning.  They finally slowed down and the girls climbed on and their mom cautioned them to sit down on their bottoms in the middle and hold on tight, and Evie kept hanging on to the outer rim, legs flailing in the wind, arms covered in dirt from her lethal grip on the bars, and the wind whistling through the huge grin of her teeth.

I was screaming “YOU ARE AMAZING!  You are strong!  You are brave!”  She held on and on and I saw all the fight and gumption and defiance and glee as she conquered the merry-go-round.

Respect bubbled up in my heart and I saw all these traits that I’ve been bumping up against used for all the right reasons.  She’s going to hop on whatever merry-go-round she wants to, no matter how big the people running it are.  She’s going to go fast.  She’s going to hang on and use all her muscle and fight for what she wants.  She’s not going to beg for something to slow down.  She’s going to hurl herself at it and catch it and grin.

This tiny little teacup of a child is one of the strongest, bravest, fiercest people I know. And I get to tuck her in at night.  The Unbreakable Evie Dale.

I’m pretty sure she’s going to conquer the world.

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  • Danielle Heather

    This really spoke to me. My 3 year old daughter Taylor is the most fiercely independent person I’ve ever met. It can be exhausting to raise her day in and day out. My husband and I are always trying to focus on molding her independence without breaking her spirit (as if we could). Here’s to raising unbreakable girls! *raises large glass of wine*

    • Melanie Dale

      *clink* Cheers!

  • Jessica Wyndham

    I had this very conversation with my small group last night! My three year-old son is making me want to go on a permanent vacation most days with his crazy headstrong and independent ways. He is already the type that has to always have the final word and can never take “no” as an answer. My friend said that those are qualities we desire in adults, but we tend to try to squash or mellow in children. Such a good perspective, and this post really echoes that sentiment. I need to get it together and learn to parent and discipline this strong-willed boy of mine in a way that works for him and nurtures his personality strengths, not try to change them to make my life easier. Thanks for this today, Melanie!

    • Melanie Dale

      It’s so hard. I want to get out of her way and let her shine, but I also want to teach her to respect authority now before she’s older and there’s jail. Finding some kind of freaky balancing act…

      • Jessica Wyndham

        LOL- so funny you said that about jail because I always say that mine will either end up in jail or as a pastor or something- I feel like there’s going to be no middle ground with him! Must harness this independence for good and not evil!!

  • Emily Simmons

    This is my Maddie. Every single day. All day long. No breaks. No relenting. She is a force to be reckoned with. Thanks for reminding me that her strength of will is a blessing.

    • Melanie Dale

      Hug. Fist bump. We will survive, right?

  • Amanda ‘Jack’ Roggow

    I’ve got two of these… but they were both born weighing less than 2 pounds and had to fight for months to survive. I’ll take that kind of determination any day. :)

    • Melanie Dale

      Right on!





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