My two daughters run my house. My wife and I have big plans for both of them. My oldest is the straight-and-narrow kid, who is going to get straight A’s and follow all the rules. My youngest is the firecracker, the spitfire, the evil genius, the wild card, who is also going to get straight A’s but sneak out on a school night to go meet her friends at the frozen yogurt place across the street until waaaaay after curfew, which will be 4:15 P.M. And when we catch her in the act, she’s going to do what she does now: flash us that smile that says, “Who, me? Noooo! You’re being silly, dad! I’ve been here the whole time! Ok, maybe not the whole time, but the whole time you thought I was here physically, I was home in my heart…and yours.”
I am not looking forward to the junior high or high school years.
Part of what makes my youngest daughter, who is now five, such a wild card, is her persistence. Some might call it stubbornness. It just depends on who you ask or when. So there are times she digs in, and, if it is not something too serious, we’ll give in. Those times are mildly inconvenient or not preferred, but they are not too problematic to give in to. Most of the time, though, we try and diffuse the problem and help her get to more of a compromise. We’re not always successful and she slides down the metaphorical hill that results in a temper tantrum. And it’s not too surprising considering both my wife and I were stubborn, according to our respective parents. Our daughter is just following in our footsteps-the apple of my eye.
I’d like to call it persistence, though, because, as much as I want my kids to be respectful of me, other kids, and authority figures, I do want them to stand up for themselves. I don’t want them to be walked all over, and I don’t want them to just say “Ok” to whatever it is and harbor resentment and bitterness against someone else for the rest of their lives. Ya know, like I have.
It is about balance. It is about knowing when to push, when to pull back. To know when to hold ‘em, and to know when to fold ‘em.
Well, this persistence played out a while back. I didn’t see it first hand, but I have seen other examples of it. I was at my older daughter’s hockey game, and my wife took my younger daughter to a family baby shower where her two cousins were also in attendance. Usually once a week my in laws have my two kids and the two cousins over to spend the night for the four of them to play. That week they didn’t get their weekend together, so after the baby shower my daughter asked my wife if her cousins could come and spend the night at our house. My wife was totally caught off guard, tried to deflect and make up reasons to prevent it from happening more for my sake since I don’t like change, but, in the end, she didn’t have a good reason. And my daughter was starting to step and slip down Tantrum Hill. At every turn my wife said, “No,” my daughter would just say, “Yes!” and jump and down and say it again, and again. And again. Having witnessed this before, I know it just continues until someone gives.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
So I got a call as I was leaving the hockey game. You know the kind of call, because you probably have made that call yourself in your life at least once, or were on the receiving end of such call.
“Hi, Honey! So…how are you? Ah huh, yeah, that’s good. So…guess what? We’re having guests over tonight!”
Now, I’m not opposed to guests in my house. I’m just an introvert that likes my free time, my personal space, peace and quiet, and no changes to be made anytime ever for any reason. So my wife asks her sister if it’s ok if her boys spend the night, and, of course, she says yes, because what parent wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a kid-free night? I know I would if one was offered to me. My daughter got her wish: Her cousins came over, they played and had fun and got their usual weekend of family bonding in. And that, actually, worked out: since the kids were occupied it gave my wife and I time to chat and catch up. And drink wine.
Persistence pays off.
Both of my daughters are going to be a handful, namely for me since I am not great at change or conflict resolution. I need a new strategy since “My way or the highway!” isn’t very effective most of the time. I need to ask myself, “Do I want my daughters to stand up for themselves? Do I want them to, respectfully, defend their ideas and discuss solutions in the boardroom to the boss? Or do I want them to be ‘Yes’ people that fold to the power of the position that is facing them? Do I want them to shrink back?” I know I want them to stand up to bullies, or other physical confrontations. In an incredible time as now of the #MeToo movement that started late last year, the year of the Women’s March that for two years in a row had record numbers of people marching in the street, and a record number of women engaging politically running for public office, I want my girls to be women of power, too. Not necessarily to be CEO’s, politicians, or women as the face of a movement, but women standing up and not backing down in the face of opposition.
Part of persistence is pressing on, not giving up. Some people should give up on their goals. I always think of the early rounds of American Idol contestants that believe in their hearts that they are born to be stars but can’t hold a note, or they are too pitchy, dog. Some people, though, shouldn’t give up.
I also want to encourage them and to know it is ok to stand up for others. Speaking up for the voiceless, helping those in need, and serving others are actions that Jesus preached His followers to do. I pray they follow in His footsteps.