exposing myself as the tyrant I really am
January 23, 2007
Parenting older children is hard. They don’t really have those moments of overwhelming cuteness, the kind where you want to grab them and bite their cheeks, so great is their cuteness. At least with toddlers you have that. That is their survival mechanism; toddlers have evolved to be so cute so that parents won’t throttle them or drop them off in the wilderness.
I was musing on what the survival mechanism of a preteen could be. I came up with the fact that they are now the same size, or larger than you, that alone would make the throttling difficult. And forget about dropping them in the middle of the wilderness. They know how to get back home. Probably before you.
A friend of mine told me once that teenagers behave the way they do so that you won’t be too sad to see them move out.
Yesterday my 3 yr old daughter clutched the tivo remote to her chest and looked up at me with such happiness, the sort I would have if someone told me I won a million dollars and chocolate cake had no calories. “Mommy, tivo loves me.” She had just discovered that tivo had saved a Little Mermaid cartoon unasked by us.
Her joy was the only thing that I stopped me from blurting out, “No, I think tivo hates me.” Her joy is also what stopped me from deleting it after the 50th viewing and saying, “Guess tivo saw you hit your little brother, huh?”
Compare this to the way the encounter would go with a twelve year old. Twelve year olds are more apt to wave the remote control around in the air in front of you while demanding to know what happened to that show. When questioned about what that show is called, they will roll their eyes and something coherent like, “The one I am talking about.”
Finally the encounter will end with much eyerolling (theirs), exasperation (both of you), and confusion (yours).
This past weekend I had to wear my I AM THE MOM hat; the one which co-ordinates perfectly with my BECAUSE I SAID SO t-shirt. I hate wearing those.
My son wanted to buy a huge lego set he saw on ebay. A huge set that had an opening bid of $250 plus another $50 for shipping. A huge set which is comprised of many smaller sets that he already owns. And while, in theory, I generally believe that he can do what he wants with his own money. This one was not one of those times. Much like if he told me he wanted to spend $300 on some crack or for a hooker. This was one of those times that I felt I needed to stand up and say, “No. You may not have this.”
To say he was mad would be an understatement. I tried to be understanding. I was gentle but firm. I sympathized with his plight as a poor sufferring oppressed child. The parenting books would have been proud of me. But after awhile, after hearing the “You can’t tell me what to do” and the “You aren’t the boss of me” and the “It’s my money, not yours” arguments, which oddly did nothing to change my mind. Finally I had to pull out my trump card.
“You aren’t getting it because I SAID SO.” End of the discussion. At least for me. He continued to “discuss” for a long time afterward. And I ignored him.
Give me toddlers any day. They rarely brood for hours over some perceived injustice.
“I can’t believe you washed that drawing off the wall. I worked on it so hard. I loved it. Why do YOU only get to decide how to decorate the walls in this house. It isn’t fair. You’re so mean. It’s my house too, you know.”
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