(Photo credits: Photo Pin)
I am pretty sure that if you looked up the word defiant in the dictionary, Cailin would be glaring right at you in lieu of a definition. Don’t get me wrong; she’s normally a very sweet, polite, well-behaved girl, but man – when she doesn’t want to do something that is IT. She is all angry eyes, crossed arms, stomped feet, and rude voice.
I know, I know – this is typical of most six year olds. And she doesn’t normally cross the line. I have only feared for her life once, which is pretty good, all things considered.
Normally, when she back talks me, I send her to the stairs after telling her (ok, maybe yelling at her…) that whatever she just did was totally inappropriate to do to her mom/sister/daddy/stuff/whatever she had just yelled at or attacked. My husband is usually more patient with her – I think because he spends less time with her and has more patience in general. He will sit her down, have a conversation, blah blah blah. I’m lucky if I manage to get out why I’m angry before she’s on the stairs.
But then… Caleb had a bad day at work, and Cailin had been fighting me all day. He could tell I was mad when he got home, so he was helping with Cailin. After dinner, he brought out dessert. We finished, and Cailin asked to get up. Caleb said sure, just take the plates in. So she grabbed her plate and went to the kitchen. Caleb said, no, get mine and Mommy’s.
And she looked him right in the eye and said, ‘No, Daddy. That’s your job. You take your own dishes in.’
This is when I got nervous. I looked at him and could see him getting angry. This is when I was scared I was about to lose a daughter. Caleb just looked at her and asked her to repeat herself. She did, almost verbatim. Then she added, ‘You do your work and I’ll do mine.’
That’s where she went wrong.
Caleb told her that was fine and to go make sure she was ready for school the next day. I sat there silently, trying to figure out what was going to happen next.
She seemed quite pleased with herself, like she’d gotten one over on dad, until about an hour later when the dryer went off. Guess whose clothes were inside?
She tried to tell Daddy that laundry was Mommy’s job, but he wouldn’t hear of it. If HER dishes were HER job, and HIS dishes were HIS job, then HER clothes were HER job. She started with the angry face but he’s far more intimidating than I am. She trudged out to the dryer, opened it, and immediately started complaining.
“There are too many clothes.”
“They are so hot!”
“I don’t know how to fold!”
Oh kid. If only you had the capacity to think about things you say. I couldn’t help but laugh. Not only was she figuring out a good lesson, I didn’t have to fold laundry. Win!
It took her about an hour to ‘fold’ all her clothes. She complained the whole time, but it was so very worth it when she finally finished and looked at Caleb and said, ok, Daddy. Let’s share jobs. They, of course, had another long conversation about how family helps out, we share chores, etc., etc.
I keep going back and forth on how I really feel about her attitude. On the one hand, it drives me crazy. On the other, the kid sure knows how to stand up for herself. But on the third (yes, third hand. Go with it.), IT DRIVES ME CRAZY.
I think right now my big issue is that I just don’t know what to do with it. I have no idea how to handle such a crazy attitude. I know everyone says this, but I was NOT like that as a kid. I’ve asked my mom and she has confirmed. And honestly, I think it’s because I was terrified of my mother. And you know what? I was spanked twice. I wish I knew her secret! I have repeatedly asked for her advice, and I’ll try it, and Cailin just gives me that look – you know the one. ‘Mom, you are SO stupid.’ It’s defeating, especially from a six year old.
Of course, not ten minutes after her meltdown, she’ll come up to snuggle with me, or bring me a picture she drew of us doing something fun. And then it’s forgotten – my sweet girl is back, laughing, making up stories, begging to hold the baby.
At least until she gets told to clean up her room.