The other night I went to bed wondering if I was raising assholes. The kids had been fine that day, but it seems like you can’t open up a news site without reading something jerk-ish a kid did. So I started freaking out that I was raising kids who would someday be one of those children written about for their atrocious behavior. How do you know if you are and, more importantly, how do you stop that behavior before it even starts?
The answer came to me yesterday.
My three-year-old has been pushing boundaries and defying my authority for awhile now. It’s been rough. A lot of screaming and long talks and tears. It finally came to a head.
I was roughhousing with her two-year-old brother a bit and she got too close. I asked her to move and she said, “No.” I asked her to move again and she crossed her arms, stone-faced, defiant. I had it.
“Lillian, you’re not listening to me. I need you to go into your room and count to 20 and then you can come out.” It was a simple request. Something she could easily have done. But she chose not to.
For 45 minutes.
During that time she whined and screamed and screamed some more. Every few minutes I would go in, remind her that all she had to do was count to 20 and she could come out. I was met with more screams.
It was really shitty to be honest. It was taking time away from her brother because I couldn’t do much with him as I had to keep an eye on her to ensure she was staying in her room at the very least. I couldn’t start dinner. I couldn’t clean. I couldn’t play with them. I was stuck, waiting and waiting and waiting for her to just count to 20 so we could all go on with our day.
Finally I heard tearful numbers coming from her room and wandered over to hear “Nineteen. Twenty.”
We had a long talk after that. About rules. About obedience. About respecting me and my authority.
It was an exhausting experience and I wish it would never happen again. But it will. Because she’s a strong willed, stubborn little girl who takes after her mom all too much. Because she’s three. That’s the downside of the whole thing is it’s going to happen over and over and over again.
There’s an upside, though. The upside is that I won the power struggle. I stayed strong and held my ground and more or less forced her into obedience and respect. I taught her that she is not in charge, she is no the center of the universe.
I hope that my actions, my maternal strength and desire to raise respectful children will pay off. And she won’t grow up to be an asshole. There’s no guarantees in life and all I can do is my best and hope and pray at night that I’m doing the right thing for her.