Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Will is Strong with This One

As most of you know, I have three kids - Abby is 14, Sam is 12 and Kady is nine. Abby and Sam are probably two of the most compliant kids you will ever meet. Kady is not.

When Dr. James Dobson wrote The Strong-Willed Child he had Kady in mind, I'm sure of it. No, it does not matter that it was published in 1992 and she was born in 2001 - I do believe her stubbornness and strong-willed attitude was legendary even before she was born.

When I was 28 weeks pregnant with her she decided she wanted to come out RIGHT THEN. I ended up on strict bed rest trying to keep the little bug inside where she needed to be. They gave me steroids to strengthen her little lungs because they were fairly certain that given how dilated I was she was making an early appearance. Thank God she listened to her mother (for once) and stayed put. After I had reached the point where she could come safely I was taken off bedrest and told to go about my business. At that point, dilated to a six - and no I am not kidding - my only business was having that baby. I ate spicy food, we had a lot of sex, we rode bumpy roads....I just wanted her out.

Guess who decided to grab hold of my spleen, dig in her heels and stay put.

I'm telling you, people, the child has been stubborn since forever.

She didn't want to nurse. Probably because she knew how badly I wanted her to nurse; she was my last baby after all. She didn't want to sleep. Probably because she liked seeing me cry.

She was the child who refused to say please to my sister one day after demanding a cracker. Her sweet, precious, utterly indulgent Auntie was not about to be bullied by a toddler and said, "No cracker until you say please."

Guess who fell asleep in her high chair without a cracker.

When Abby was born, my sister insisted on being called Auntie. Abby learned to say Auntie; so did Sam. Then along came Kady who refused to say Auntie. She was just give my sister a blank look of borderline hatred and boredom when Heather would spend half an hour going, "Saaaayyyyyy Auntie! Say Aaaaaaauntieeeeeee." One day, probably after way too much Auntie Emersion Therapy, she looked my sister square in the eye and without emotion said, "Yaya." Heather would say "Auntie", Kady would counter with "Yaya." Over time Abby and Sam started calling her Yaya as well.

Guess who now calls my sister Auntie.

She used to scream thinking she could get her way. When she was a toddler I would take a spray bottle of water and spritz her in the face every time she spewed forth a violent blast of high-volume toddler screeching. She was too young to spank and the water wasn't harmful.

Guess who spent many a toddler afternoon soaking wet, drippy and pouty.

My friend Stacie held my beautiful, teeny tiny infant daughter and with a smile looked up at me and said, "You do know that you will end up having to build a moat full of alligators under this child's bedroom window when she's a teenager, right?" I laughed and said, "Yeah..."


Will you think me silly if I say I've looked into alligator farming and backhoe operation?

Kady is one of the sweetest kids on the planet. Her teachers have all loved her and all speak of her compassion toward other students, the way she never allows anyone to be left out and her willingness to help anyone in need, be it teachers or students. They always give me strange looks when I sit at a miniature desk at parent-teacher conferences and anxiously ask, "So she doesn't refuse to put on her coat? She doesn't stomp and pout and whine when it's time to go somewhere? She doesn't ignore you and consider all requests for compliance to be merely suggestions? Seriously? She doesn't do that to you?" And they all shake their heads no. I even had one ask, "Are you Kady's mother? Kady Hoover? Sweet little Kady Hoover? Why would you think she would do that? She's an angel!"

How on earth did I get two compliant children and one mule?

It's me. I've figured that much out. She doesn't test anyone but me. She'll occasionally test her father, but it's rare - probably because he has a much shorter temper than I do. She never tests her Grammy and Pops. Her Yaya is wayyyyyyyy too stubborn for her to even attempt to lock horns (remember the cracker story above) with her. She doesn't test her teacher or her principal or her basketball coach.

But me? I get it daily.

And would you like to know the corker of it all? The real icing on the ol' cake? The rub, as Shakespeare would say?

SHE DOESN'T GET HER WAY. I always win! I never let her! Yet, still she tests me and challenges me and tries me. Oh, she always ends up doing what she's told to do, she just likes to take the scenic route to get there.

The other morning she simply stated, very matter-of-factly when I woke her up, "Oh, I'm not going to school today," like she was informing me prefers Froot Loops over Frosted Flakes. I said, "Uhh....yeah, no. You're going. Get up." What ensued was her stomping around for 20 minutes while I told her to get dressed. Then came the tears. Then me speaking through clenched teeth at her continued belief she wasn't going to school. But she went to school, by golly. It doesn't matter if it's clothing, shoes, school, food, breathing - I win. Does she keep doing this on the bizarre off chance that one of these days she will? And God help us all if I ever give in. Her worldwide takeover will be soon after.

Mom has said since she was a baby that the child will end up being a politician. Or a lawyer. I'm leaning toward prison warden, drill sergeant or lunch lady - those people dole it out and don't care what you think. Much like my third child.

I will not give in, even if it means both of us end up in tears. I do not let her win, but man, she makes me work for that victory. There's a lot of yelling and speaking through clenched teeth done by yours truly. I'm not proud, but I'm also not letting her win.

She doesn't test her teachers because she is a complete and total pleaser. She wants to impress them infinitely. They are the givers of praise and adoration and grades.

She doesn't test her Gram and Pops because they are her grandparents and therefore are magical. The givers of ice cream and limitless computer time.

She doesn't test her daddy because he has a fuse about *this* long. (Imagine my fingers about 1/8" apart. Then divide that by two.) He is the giver of spankings. And that look.

But me? Well, I guess I am the giver of chances.


I think they refer to this as "spoiled".

But how did my other two not get spoiled in the process? I don't love any of them more or less than the others! Is it because they are just easier to discipline and, for lack of a better word, control? If she wants to please her teachers so badly, why does she not want to please me as well?

I try so very hard to accentuate the positive. The other day I told her one time to do something AND SHE DID IT, even saying "Yes ma'am" as she put down what she was doing to go do it. I thanked her for doing it so quickly and told her how happy it made me. The praise did not affect her in the least. She didn't light up like her sister and brother do when they get praised. It's like she doesn't want my approval and praise.

I love her with all that is in me. She makes me laugh like no one else can and can curl up in your lap and love on you like no one else can. She's smart, funny, beautiful and was the child we didn't know we needed until we had her. I never dreamed I would be fighting these battles with her.

I know for a fact I was not like this as a child. My mother has even marveled at how unlike me she is in this respect. Now, the crying, oh yeah, she's my mini-me on that, but I was not a stubborn child. Heck, I'm not even all that stubborn of an adult. You know me and my whole "I hate confrontation, it gives me diarrhea" thing I have goin' on - confrontation and conflict just don't thrill me.

So, now that I am standing emotionally naked and vulnerable as a mother, I'm asking you, Constant Reader, do you have a stubborn child? What do you do? Have you found the trick to peace and harmony with your own mule-child?

And by the way, does anyone know where one can get a few alligators? Cheap?

I'm asking for a friend.


melyssa said...

I soooo remember thinking before I had any children (back when I was The Perfect Mom) that if I NEVER backed down, if I NEVER let them win, I would have wonderfully happy, cheerful, compliant children who would never ever test me.

I get it. I think to myself, "well, Self, if I don't give in, we won't have to fight this battle again." It sure seems good in theory.

And BTW, I was the world's most compliant child, so I really find it unfair!

Amanda from Canada said...

I have followed your blog for years and have never left a comment. This one I need to, my daughter is going to be 4 at the end of February, when she was a baby she was an angel latterly an angel she slept through the night at 2 month I had her off the soother at 5 months off the bottle at 10 months potty trained walking everything never ever did she get into anything and then one day she decided to hate me. She tests my every strength, I never give in and yet every day she tests me just like Kady. This whole post could have been about my daughter other then the age. She to is very emotional yelling at her does nothing she cries and it hurts her feelings and then she cries, but will continue pushing the buttons the whole time. I have never thought about a water bottle. Today I am going to buy a water bottle!! Here is the problem I now see. I thought this was a stage, an age thing, you have crushed my world. LOL!!!

Saska said...

My middle son was like your Kady. They don't outgrow it either! He's now 24...still strong-willed, but the best kid in the world!

Anonymous said...

If you're thinking you're going to have a definite moment when Kady starts being compliant, you'd better count on turning THAT egg timer over a few times 'cuz the only thing that is going to help is age. Hers. She gets to be a Mom herself before you will see one ounce of change. You'll know Kady has finally changed when she gives you a Mother's Day card saying "NOW I understand." Meanwhile, take your vitamins. Tie on your hard hat. Buckle up the safty belt and hold on. It's going to be a long ride. Lucky you!

Sam said...

I'm pretty sure Blogger just ate my carefully typed from my phone comment. Blast!

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