06 August 2010


[Before you star reading, admire ada brooks's outfit for the day...]

I have said before that my children are strong willed.

I don't know yet which one is the most that way, but they are all in the running. I didn't think until recently that Collins was in the running. But he's not refusing to admit that the Cat is not a Dog, and it's worrying me...

My mother had three strong willed children. It's just what we do.

A strong will, like many personality traits, can be a vice or a great blessing. It is all in what we do with it. My own strong will got me into many a scrape, but it has also blessed me tremendously - the most notable of these blessings is probably my very strong willed daughter, who I may not have successfully birthed and raised without my very, very strong will.

A well meaning person recently said that she didn't think my kids were strong willed at all.

Perhaps it is because it is a misunderstood term.

It doesn't mean hyper (the most difficult to understand misconception of the term I've yet encountered).

It doesn't mean disobedient (children are disobedient for many, many reasons - all of which basically boil down the fact that they are little sinners like the rest of us - a strong will may be tied up in disobedience, but it ain't the same thing).

[The occasional use of the word ain't is just an amazing literary device for a southerner to use. Much like e.e.cummings felt about punctuation, I feel that I can use whatever words best make my point, even if they aren't correct. You know who was strong willed? e.e.cummings...]

Strong willed doesn't mean emotional. (It's not contrary to emotional, but completely separate from it. You can have a strong willed child who is emotionally driven and one who is not. For example of A, see Ada Brooks. For example of B, see me.)

Strong willed means exactly what it says. That person's will is, in fact, strong. If they want, believe or think something, it is hard to persuade them otherwise. Collins rarely wants something, but when he does, dammit, there is no telling him otherwise. Staples the cat is a dog. I dare you to tell him otherwise. Double Cat Dare you. Good luck.

If you can direct a strong will to only want good things, boy howdy - you've got yourself a weapon. If you let it run wild, well, then bless your little heart and the hearts of those around you.

Eason is a fun loving little person, generally joyful, but breaking his will is like cutting open an acorn squash. Again, good luck.

And Ada Brooks, well, she takes the cake. Going up against her is like, well, the Spartans going up against Persia. You may be smarter, stronger, have better weapons, but in the end, she will win. It is guaranteed.

Now - please, please understand that this does not mean that she gets her way. It means that you cannot change her will. She thinks she should not have to read biographies of people she doesn't find interesting. I can make her read them, but I cannot make her think she should. She doesn't like hot dogs. I can make her eat them (although that seems a bit ridiculous), but I cannot make her like them.

Parents often employ trying to change their children's wills. Some do this too little and some too much, but it is an oft-used tactic.

I use it when my children are doing something that is not my taste, but isn't against the rules.

So, if Eason is pouring his milk out onto the table, I don't try to change his will. "Eason - you don't want to do that do you? Pouring milk out on the table doesn't make any sense...."

He does want to do it - that's the point. We've all heard poor mothers who try this tactic. The fact is that it doesn't matter what he wants - he's not allowed to do that. Sorry.

[When Ada Brooks was Eason's age, I worked more than full time doing legal research and witness interviews for my lawyer Dad. She of course in various situations would say, "But Mama I want...." And i taught her that what she wants, while it does matter and is often interesting, it is rarely dispositive. Look it up. It's a great legal term that should be applied to parenting more often.]

But when Ada wants to be a cat for halloween, I'm not going to tell her "nope - not allowed" - I try to have good reasons for disallowing certain things, and my own prejudice that cats are tacky is not quite a good reason. But I try to change her will. "You don't really want to be a cat, do you? What about something a little more fun. A bat, perhaps?"

Or when Eason says he's afraid of the water, well, fighting against him wasn't working, so I had to gradually direct his will in a different way.

This morning, we've had a perfect example of Ada Brooks's brick wall of a will.

Yesterday, we had a big rain storm. And it sprinkled for a few hours afterward. Well, Miss Bee asked if she could go out and look at leaves. Sure...why not. Not my idea of fun, but, do as you please, little one.

So, she did.... for over an hour... And made a pretty circle.

And this morning she asked, first thing, "Can I go outside and collect more leaves?"

At this point, I made my fatal mistake. There is nothing wrong, per se, with her collecting leaves. Why should I even interfere.... she's six. How long could this whim of hers last? But, they were cluttering up my side porch and it seems silly, and I need to learn to keep my mouth shut, I know...

I said, "Hey bee - why are you collecting leaves?"

She said, "Why not?" [Smart little bugger]

I said, "Well, it's just that you're collecting oak leaves, and while they may be a rarity in some of our unfortunate suburbs, here in 80 some odd year old fondren, we have a plethora of oak leaves."
see tree in our back yard below....

[Side conversation about the meaning of plethora]

She said, "I just like them. I like collecting them."

Me, "What ya going to do with them?"

Her, "Craft..."

And round and round we went. And I lost. She is Persia. She has a million men. There is no point. So, unless I'm going to disallow leaf collecting in a classic Betty Draper move, I should probably just hush.

Really. Or, I'll be like those idiotic Greeks who knew they were going to die... just go home, people, just go home.

Occasionally, retreat is honorable.

No comments:

Post a Comment