Saturday, October 20, 2007

no daddy no !!!

my wife jokes that our daughter is in a punk band and it's called
"no daddy no !"
i imagine fists pumping in rebellious fervor to the beat of her stopping feet. they call it the terrible two's (the terrible two step?); but it started well before her second birthday, and i imagine it will continue long into her life. as it has for me.

shuggie and i are in a power struggle over everything. she doesn't want what i give her, my help, or even my presence sometimes. we like to give her a choice whenever possible; but even then she can take her sweet time making a decision or keep changing her mind. she will resist getting changed, cleaned up, or out of the bath. or she'll insist that her mother does it instead of me. some of this is separation anxiety from professor mommy; but most of it stems from the way we interact.

i see a lot of myself in little shuggie's tantrums. that's because we're mirroring each other. i keep trying to stop her from doing things and she does the same thing to me. she learns her moves from us. it's for this reason that we do not spank. it makes no sense to model violent behavior and expect anything else back. there are plenty of other ways to discipline.

my impatience has a lot to do with it. if i am running late then i start to take charge and push things along. it's all about control. and i'm inconsistant. sometimes i let her do things until she reaches some arbitrary threshold, and then confuse her when i finally decide to act. i have to be careful when i reach that frustrated place. it doesn't help for me to lose my cool.

i get confused myself. i know that i cannot watch over her all of the time and that she will learn most effectively when she makes mistakes; and yet i cannot let her climb up a bookshelf, put her hand on a hot stove, or walk into traffic. so the push and pull of her developing her individuality and me protecting her becomes an ever evolving dance in which we learn from each other.

truth be told, part of me likes the idea of my little girl being a rebel rebel and questioning authority. of course, i see myself there.

it's called negativism. not thy will, but mine be done! contrarianism for its own sake: a kneejerk reactionary rebellious willfulness.

this is vital for the development of a healthy ego; and a part of all of our lives. and yet, when do we draw the line with drawing the line? do we ever?

certainly, we are all motivated toward getting what we want. sooner or later we're going to butt heads with someone. life involves continuous compromise or conflict.

the more i hang onto a preconceived idea of how an interaction with my daughter will go, the more upset and challenged i become. and the degree to which i push her is the degree to which she will push back.

sometimes i'll try and push things along when she is taking a long time as the decider. and the way that she will go for the opposite of whatever i suggest lays the groundwork for increasingly complex interactions involving reverse psychology and other subtle forms of coersion.

"mad at daddy" is rather direct. and challenging. the challenge is for me to take a breath and relax, to choose my battles and try and have fun, and to give my daughter enough freedom to grow and learn.

i'm getting better at what my wife calls "transitions": guiding shuggie from one activity to another. for me, it's all a lesson in patience.