My daughter fights me on everything. She is almost five-years-old and nothing is easy in our house. I know logically she can’t read yet, but it feels like she has studied The Art of War.
She argues with me about the basics. Yes, you need to wash your hands. Yes, you need to brush your teeth. No, you cannot go to the “chocolate store,” and eat a chocolate bar for breakfast.
She argues with me about physics. It may be impossible for this and that to fit together, but it’s likely she won’t believe me. There is nothing more disappointing for her than when the Lego tower she built doesn’t do what she wants it to do.
She argues with me about gender roles. A kid at school has been telling her some “boys do this, girls do that”-nonsense. She’s been repeating it constantly, leading my husband and me into the depths of a modern parenting depression. Our daughter dons a tutu while wearing a Darth Vader mask and building things at her workbench. Yet, we still have to hear about this boy-girl B.S.
I never knew that four-year-olds were like mini-teenagers. “I’m not talking to you about it, mom!” “Leave me alone, mom!” “I want the iPad, mom!” These are all things I expect to hear ad nauseam in ten years as well.
My husband and I read somewhere in a parenting book that it’s important to let kids win on occasion, and we’ve taken that to heart. When it’s not detrimental to her safety, development, or our sanity, we let her win the argument. Not the gender role one though, my feminist soul can’t handle that.
At this point as a parent, I just want her to say please and thank you. She claims that she knows to say it at school. We’re working on it at home. Really, as long as she’s not being an a-hole to other people out in the world, I’ll consider that a win.
Coping post-tantrum often involves whisky or Netflix binges. Or both. Coincidentally, I’ve been using the same methodology in regards to our current political climate.
My newest way of coping with my spirited daughter is imagining her as a fully-grown protester. I have determined that we are simply raising a hell-raiser. The resisting of vegetables will eventually lead to the resisting of inequalities. The smashing of her blocks when frustrated will someday lead to the smashing of the patriarchy.
Perhaps her reluctance to use the potty in the morning is just her exerting agency over her own body. It’s not long before she’ll be joining me on the front lines shouting, “My body, my choice!” When she persists to fight me over screen time, I will think to myself, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
In all seriousness, I’m happy that she’s independent. I am relieved that she’s not a follower or a pushover. I do not want to tamp down on this amazing spirit. But sometimes I just want to leave the house without the constant arguments, whining, distractions, and feet stomping.
If at the end of the day, we’ve raised a daughter who will eventually use these skills to fight for her rights and those of others, these bedtime debates will have all been worth it. In the meantime, I’ll go back to sipping my drink and binge-watching Stranger Things.