Toddlerhood is a time full of annoying habits, like talking back and disobeying. I think my wonderful Chickie must be preparing herself for a testing-related career, whether it's testing product testing, pharmaceutical trials, or writing achievement tests for schools. And I can tell you she'll thrive in that career, because she is already very good at testing my rules and my patience.
Recently Chickie has become alarmingly adept at whining and talking back to me. I suppose some of it's funny. ("Chickie, sit in time out." "No, you sit in time out!") But it's also frustrating, and it something I don't have much tolerance for. I really don't want a kindergartener who is known for being a fantastic whiner.
But as I work with her on this, I've had to work just as much on myself. You see, as I hear Chickie talking to me in a rude, disrespectful tone, I hear myself in her voice.
When she says, "Mommy, do such-and-such right now!" I remember telling her, "Chickie, put on your pants right now!"
When she impatiently says, "Mommy, NO!" I recall using that same tone of voice in reprimanding her.
Now, I am the mommy, and it's just fine for me to boss my child around and to reprimand her. But I'm really, really trying to talk to her in a calm, non-angry tone, even when I'm correcting her. Because it's become very clear recently just how much she's learning from me. Hearing rude things coming out of her mouth makes me realize that those words and tones of voice are rude when they come out of my mouth, too.
It's a lot easier to raise my voice so that I'm both showing her that I'm serious, and venting out my frustration. But the result of that habit--the viscious cycle of mother-daughter disrespect--is not worth it.
I thought I was grown up before I had kids, but now, as I seek to change my childish habits so that I won't pass them along, I realize how immature I can still be. I'm thankful to my kids for challenging and maturing me.
I guess that means I'm thankful that they can be so darn annoying.