Call it whatever you’d like. “Strong willed.” “Challenging.” Terrible two. Threenager. I prefer rebel because of the kind of person it brings to mind. Joan of Arc. Ariel in Footloose. Moana. Someone who doesn’t follow the rules and evokes both a little bit of fear and a ton of admiration. All parents of children described by these labels have memories of the moment we realized we were dealing with a next-level little maniac.
My moment was when my perfectly hair-bowed and uniform-ironed (once a year, friends) 2-year old refused school pictures at her preschool. When the picture proofs came back, I emailed the school letting them know that our daughter’s shots were missing. And I quote, “She didn’t want to sit for a picture and we tried to talk her into it, but we didn’t want to make her mad.” Two. Years. Old. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t force her and I felt inappropriately vindicated that her refusals strike fear in school officials as well as me, but WOW. And even though I’m exhausted and constantly worried I’m parenting this little spitfire in all the wrong ways, I keep at it because I know these qualities that currently bend my wine budget will no doubt result in a strong, independent and amazing woman.
So, little rebel, you have to start following directions and listening (let’s shoot for 50% of the time to start?) and it would be awesome if getting dressed everyday wasn’t an Olympic event, but please don’t ever change.
You will probably stay rear-facing in your car set until you are 5, not only because it’s the safest, but because I fear your radio station wrath, which will undoubtedly get worse once you can boss me around face to face. “No! No like that song! TURN IT!” you scream at a volume equal to the actual radio. But you know what? You have great taste in music and usually choose songs we both love. I hope this means when it’s time for you to swoon over your generation’s NKOTB you don’t forget how much you love Lady Gaga, the Beatles, and Bob Marley. Your opinions are strong and unwavering (where ever did this trait come from?) but if indulging your music demands in the car means you will never settle for less than what you really want, then I’m all in. Don’t ever change, my opinionated one.
Not going to lie, one of my least favorite things is your refusal to hug/kiss/hold my hand when requested. I’ve learned quickly that forcing you will only make both of us miserable and also probably cause a huge kidnapper-esque scene in the Trader Joe’s parking lot. But you know what? Nothing would make me happier than to see you in 10 years refusing an unwanted kiss from a classmate or throwing yourself on the ground because someone tried to hold your hand without permission. Your body is your own and nobody else’s (even Mommy’s…and that’s hard for me), so thanks for reminding me. Don’t ever change, my defiant one.
As much as you love to scream and answer “no” to every one of my requests, you very rarely receive or accept “no” as a directive. To you, “no” is merely a jumping off point for negotiation. You already know that the path to a “yes” is often cluttered with nos. I’ve seen you work a room of strangers until you find someone who will follow you to the pantry/hold your baby doll/turn on the TV. This skill (clearly gifted from your other mom) makes steam come out of my ears on the daily. But you know what? I also picture you protesting a grade on a paper or making your case for a raise, and I smile. I will gladly
waste spend 10 minutes trying to talk you into a puzzle with less pieces if it means you are better prepared to only accept the answer you want. Don’t ever change, my little negotiator.
My rebel girl, I’ve spent way too much time wondering if our clashes are “normal” or if you are pushing my buttons on purpose. I’ve never once used the word “obedient” or “rule follower” and I’m constantly trying to put a positive spin on “bossy,” but I’m almost at acceptance. And to hear that you “struggle with following directions” at your parent/teacher conference, I feel confident that it’s not me, it’s definitely you. And I mean that as a compliment, my love, so please don’t ever change.