Monday, October 11, 2004

Voices, I Hear Voices

We post-moderns suffer from critical lack of self-esteem in certain vital areas. In areas where it doesn’t matter, such as academics, American self-esteem is at an all-time high. In some of the most important areas, such as parenting, we are paralyzed by self-doubt.

I see it in myself. Every time I discipline my toddler there is a little voice that tells me that I am crippling her creativity and inquisitiveness. Yes, I know that it is really my job to keep her from pulling the food processor down on top of her head, but I still feel like such an ogre when I keep her from killing herself in a new and imaginative way. Interestingly enough, my toddler tends to agree with this little voice.

Still, I am learning that she is much more resilient than I give her credit for being. The other day I told her to stop banging on the screen door (or was it to stop trying to pull out the bread machine cord?). Most of the time she responds to a simple verbal command, “No,” or “Don’t touch.” This time I picked her up and moved her away from the really fun death game, and put her near me while I washed dishes. She was not happy with this.

My daughter is really good at crying. Instilled with a seeming Protestant work ethic in regard to crying, she seems to view it as a virtue. She is the cutest thing I have ever seen when she is really angry. I know that I am going to see a really adorable fit when she has to hold her breath to work up to a loud bellow of protest. I can tell how good the crying fit is going to be by counting the number of seconds between the first appearance of her flushed, scrunched-up face and the wail of chagrin.

This fit was going to be a good one, judging by the silence that greeted my plopping her next to me on the kitchen floor. I thought at first she wasn’t upset when she quietly waddled away from me, across the long kitchen floor into the living room. But no-- she was so upset that she needed to throw herself onto the floor to express her disappointment via kicking and screaming. However, she had the foresight to eschew the hard linoleum for soft carpet. It was then that I realized that, far from being the delicate flower of my fantasies, this child had more understanding of life than I had even begun to give her credit for.

I haven’t heard from that little voice since.

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