Taming a Stubborn Child
It is Tuesday at CoupleDumb when we talk about those little blessings that we call children. There is a reason why we call with category ‘kids and why you can’t kill them’ and it links directly to this week’s topic of losing your mind. If there is one thing that can drive any parent into a near homicidal rage, it is the lilting, constant, oppositional voice of their beloved little rugrat. (By the way, we said ‘near homicidal rage’. CoupleDumb does not promote homicide as body disposal is a significant stressor to the best of relationships.)
Paul says: My sixteen year old daughter is a bit stubborn, like hurricane Katrina did a bit of damage and a galaxy is a bit large. I am the first to admit that most of the successes of her life have come from her headstrongness but that doesn’t make it any more fun. With all of her physical issues, ranging from a weakened left side to missing parts in her brain to partial blindness, she never demurred from a challenge. To add to the joys of raising her, she started talking in complete and complex sentences at 10 months and hasn’t stopped for a breath since.
By the age of four, Jeannie liked to argue…about everything…constantly. She had an opinion on any topic from the colors in her crayon box to the volatility of the Malaysian stock market. Sometimes she would disagree while still agreeing. I would say yes and she would say yes but…righter.
One day, Jeannie was being self-proclaimedly correct on something that she was most definitely not right about and I went ballistic. I do not remember the specifics of the argument, as the flames of my insanity burnt away most of the content, but I do recall that the color blue was somehow involved.
‘Do you see that it is blue,’ I yelled, having completely lost my mind.
‘And you thought it was red.’
‘So you are…?’ I do not think that Jeannie actually knows the word ‘wrong’, even now. She may have used the word once to apply to herself but that was only in the negative as in ‘I have never been…’
‘You’re wrong,’ I said then continued with a little cadence to my rant, ‘wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. You…are…wrong.’
I am offering you this Child Services moment to say that we all lose our minds sometimes. It is a natural reaction to the stresses of day to day life. When we talk about losing it in the negative sense, we are really saying that we have given control over to that shadow inside us that just wants to get out. Being browbeaten by my four year old was just not sitting right with my sense of male pride. Therefore, I needed to lash out. Let’s say I needed to assert my alpha authority. Quite honestly, there is nothing wrong with that. Always remember that a child’s job is to look for the limits and a parent’s job is to make sure that they find them.
Like most things that we write about, the warning portion of this story mandates that we look for insight into our actions. I am not a big fan of apologies, even though I do see the occasional importance. The thing is that if I am constantly blowing up and following it up with an apology then the apology means nothing. If, on the other hand, I am losing my mind with enough insight to tell myself that I am pissed and I need to communicate it in a healthy and assertive manner, I have just educated my child with a lesson that will be valuable all of their life.
Of course, I was not doing that with Jeannie. With her, I just wanted her to know that she was wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lee says: I remember that day. Actually it was a Tuesday and the breeze had a slight hint of loony to it. Paul was wearing his fur pajamas and Jeannie, at age four was drinking mimosas out of a sippy cup. I was dressed as a Valkerie waiting for my emu to finish its constitutional so I could begin my patrol. Let’s say, that particular argument was shrouded in clouds of crazy including Paul’s dance and Jeannie and my surprise.
Yes, its true, my daughter was little Clarence Darrow in shorts. Yes, it’s true that that day, my husband, who up until that point had the patience of a saint, snapped. I however, was never that charitable with Jeannie. The little bitch back then and even today can get to me. There is a saying in Spanish that you say when people are getting close to setting you off: ‘No me busques la lengua’ – ‘Don’t look for my tongue’. That day, Jeannie found Paul’s tongue and didn’t like what she got.