Friday, July 13, 2012

Making The Cut

 Today has been emotional.

First up I made a terrible online faux pas. My daughter asked me what throbbing meant. Her toe was acheing so I told her it might throb every now and again, and if it keeps doing to let me know. She wanted to  know what that word meant. So I told her. Total blank face. Then I remembered the Jerry Seinfeld stand-up bit where he talks about the tube and the circle in medicine commercials (for my British friends - you NEVER get used to the weirdness of a commercial telling you to take anti-psychotics simply because you might get headaches sometimes) Which made me think that someone online must have made a handy dandy picture of a thumb red and throbbing. So I typed it in the search box and hit images. Go on - do it yourself. But not if you;re at work. Because DEAR LORDS MY EYES ARE DYING. I understand that each person's Google results are somewhat different based upon an algorithm calculated by prior searches and personal data. But frankly I don't want to know why that first image comes up at all. And I don't want to spend any time figuring out if what gender that person is. My daughter thankfully gave the blank face some more and then fell for the, "look a flying banana!" (probably not the best thing to yell at that point, based upon the images displayed) as I made her look away as I closed the browser window.

Then a little while later I genuinely had to comfort my daughter after she sneeze-tooted. That's never happened to her before. She initially thought it was hilarious. I explained what it was - and even ventured a cuddly, cutesy definition of the word "sharted" (without the actual name or the word "fart" - which my daughter amazingly doesn't even know yet). Then she sneezed again and she didn't toot. Which made her strangely upset. Not because she felt cheated but because she then realized she had no control over when that happens. So she told me that she was afraid that if she sneezed in a swimming pool that she might accidentally toot. Or worse. "I want to poo when I want to Daddy..." she trembled. Then she worried that everyone would tell her she wasn't allowed to swim anymore if she can't control it. And what if other people do that too? Everyone could be sneezing because of, 'cat-dust" (her term) and then the water would be dirty. How did a tiny little chuff-sneeze snowball into an appalling nightmare scenario where twenty children are accidentally shitting in a swimming pool? I'm pretty sure she must have considered that some mean person was traveling the area making people sneeze on the off chance that the brown-mayhem would ensue. So I ended up genuinely cuddling my daughter on the couch and reassuring her that she can poo whenever she wants to.Weirdest cuddle ever, I can assure you.

I had a weird epiphany yesterday. After a week and a half of poor behavior by my daughter I tried to nip it in the bud. My daughter has completely uncharacteristically behaved in a way that she hasn't ever done so. As in she took a swing at her mother, me and shoved her brother over like Bill Romanowski yesterday. Completely unlike her. I know parents are often blind to their kids imperfections. I like to think I'm realistic about it. But honestly - my daughter is strangely conducive to rules and behaving the correct way in certain situations. She is thought of as perfectly behaved at her school. Even her swimming teacher - someone who has met her 4 or 5 times - has remarked that she's not only polite but strange in the sense that she never does anything without permission first. While all about her kids are fighting, scraping and shoving my daughter is puzzled as to why everyone is doing so.

So much so that stood in line to go into the pool on Wednesday she cut in front of someone. Being four she knows this is wrong in her classroom - but seems to think it's some sort of cheeky but innocent game in this instance. The person behind her grabbed her bag to drag her back.Another bigger girl got right in her face and todl her that you don't cut in. I almost expected it to get a little cheesy (in that good David Lynch dialogue kind of way) and have the girl say, "if you cut you get cut....." before waving a switchblade around. I could have interevened right away - and my protective parental instincts were to do that. But the other kids weren't bullying or anything liek that. They were reinforcing a hard-and-fast societal rule for kids. That being you can run to the line but once people are in front you do not cut in front of someone. My daughter looked confused but not frightened - more like it was just new information. She glanced up at me and the kid behind her who had grabbed her back asked me, "is she yours?" I said yes and she and the other kid instantly said they were sorry. Not in a manner that suggested they'd been caught doign something very wrong. More in a, 'sorry you had to see that" kind of way. It was strange. Then they immediately behaved in a friendly way to my daughter - asking her name, age and where she lived. It was entirely genuine. Then the older girl (just turned 6 apparently) behind her did that weird thing they do in prison movies - where the long-timer tells the newbie the rule ("you can never cut in - okay..?") in a soft, helpful way. Then she held her hand and they walked in together.

That was Wednesday. I didn't dawn on me at the time what this might mean. Instead I'd been concentrating very hard on any desire to stop any bullying by older and bigger kids to my daughter. This was mostly based on seeing a classmate of my daughter being twatted pretty hard by a kid three years older than him on the playground the Monday before this. Only then did I notice that this mixing of age groups seemed to have become a human microcosm of a chimpanzee documentary - with the bigger chimps reenforcing their alpha status and the younger chimps taking their lumps btu still unaware of when they are violating half the rules they are being told they are breaking. I had the initial instant reaction. If any kid so much as touches my daughter I'll scare the living shit out of them so that they don't dare think about doing it again. I don't mean that in an awful mean parent kind of way. It's more an echo of knowing what it's like to be bullied (at an older age) and not wanting anything like that to happen to my kids. But then I quickly understood that a lot of this stuff is just push and shove "know your place" sort of stuff. And really - my daughter tends to stick with kids her own age and doesn't do anything overly stupid. 

But yesterday around 2pm my daughter ran across the living room and knocked her brother over. She knocked him clear off his feet too. She can be overly aggressive with him sometimes - but only in the sense that she is just bigger and stronger than him. It's not mean - it's just physical difference. But this past 10 days or so she's done that sort of thing a couple of times. Before my son started wailing I sat my daughter down in the blue chair (the one you have to sit in when Dad is not happy) and demanded she tell me what on earth she was doing. Normally she responds well to this sort of thing but not this time. She started yelling and so I told her to go upstairs. Me not wanting to be with her is a punishment she doesn't like at all. She said no. After a few more angry screams she got it all wrong (hopefully anyway...) with, "Daddy. You have to listen to me because I'm the only one that likes you." Which reminded me of the excellent Tommy Tiernan sketch where he talks about how his girlfriend angrily yelled at him, "You mother hates you. She pays me money to look after you." Hours later the wife got home when were both still very much annoyed with each other.

I'd pretty much laid the fault of her sour mood these last 10 days down to a few concrete things. One being the nasty, arseholish behavior of a child I don't like my daughter associating with (happens every damn time too). The other the weather. Yes I am well aware of the nature/nuture blog from a few days ago about how parents come up with excuses for their children being twunts. I was doing that myself right there. But after the kid's mother got home I went for a long run to get rid of built up annoyance.

Then and only then did the epiphany hit me. My daughter is 5. Kids apparently don't really know right from wrong, altruism from selfishness and justifiable from unjustifiable until they are at least 7. And they have to learn that somehow. Is this how? Do they need to basically be told - in that semi-aggressive way - by slightly older kids that they are violating kid's rules? Do they need to endure being tugged, slapped and pushed about a bit? Is it just part of being five? Is that what makes you stronger and wiser? Because that makes me somewhat sad at the idea of it.But having witnessed kids tussle and scrap a bit - and then instantly come to a friendly understanding then maybe that's just what being five is like. I need to go find out!

Which is why I hope no-one shoves her hard enough that she poos on them. Because once you've earned the name Princess Shit-Pants it's hard to recover.

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