Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I'm the BOSS.
So, Abi. Sweet little Abi. From the time she could utter sounds that even SOUNDED like words, she was bossin'. (WHERE DOES SHE GET THIS STUFF FROM??????)
I stayed at home with Abi. And when I wasn't at home, I was working with her under my feet, day in and day out, in my office at church. Stay-at-home-moms, you are not forgotten. Your days turn into endless stretches of time where you don't go to the bathroom alone, you don't eat anything but sandwich crusts, and you forget that there is a world out there where not every conversation contains the word poop.
I knew when Abi looked me in the eye and popped me in the nose with her foot at six months old because I made her get in her car seat that we were in for a wild ride. (Yes, she did it on purpose. A mom knows.) And day after day of staying home with my little charge, not only was I trying to establish my authority in her life, but she was also trying to establish HER authority in ANYTHING. If I said it was time for lunch, she wasn't hungry. If I wanted her to get dressed, she would insist that she was wearing her bathing suit and not the dress I picked out. If I wanted to sit and read a book, she demanded outside time. Finally, one day, I summoned my mommy powers and stopped it.
Dead in its tracks.
I got down on the floor and sat eye to eye with her. Those green eyes looking into mine. Those sweet little chubby cheeks needing me to pinch them... Oh sorry, I'm getting lost. Back to the point. I looked at her and I said, "Abi, let me make this clear to you. You are not in charge of me. I do not have to do anything you say. And I will not to ANYTHING you demand. You are not the boss of me and you never will be."
She sat. She thought. And with all the sincerity she could summon, she said, (with a quivering chin) "Mom, I just want to be the boss of SOMETHING."
I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I saw myself in her so much at that moment. I remember the feeling of thinking I was born to rule the world. It was one of those "God, give me wisdom" moments. Because, this was not playing out like I thought it would. I had stupidly imagined she would say ok and go on her merry way. Nope.
But somehow, I found these words. "Abi, you can be the boss of your attitude."
With no further explanation needed, she stood up, jumped up and down, and exclaimed, "I'm the boss of my attitude! I'm the boss of my attitude!!!! I can't believe it!!"
Fast forward three years. On a daily basis, I remind her of her responsibility to choose her attitude. Because, fact is, I'm in charge of her. I can make her brush her teeth, get dressed, do her homework, come inside, and eat her dinner. But I cannot make her do it with a good attitude. Almost every single day as I see her heels beginning to dig in on a subject, Rod or I will remind her... "Choose a good attitude, Abi. Because you do NOT have a choice in doing what I asked. You CAN choose which attitude you'll do it with." Sometimes she chooses a good one. Other times we aren't so lucky.
But the fact remains, she knows this is an area that she and ONLY she can control.
When she was three, not long after the conversation I had with her on the living room floor, we were at lunch with a young married couple who didn't have children yet. To show off our awesome parenting skills (ha), I said, "Abi, tell them what you're in charge of!" Abi stands up in the booth, throws both arms out, and yells, "I'M THE BOSS OF MY ATTITUDE AND MY PRIVATES!"
Thank you, Abi, for announcing that to all three million of Sonny's BBQ patrons.
Hey, at least she got it. And apparantly, she saved us a few steps in the future. ;-)
I added this after the fact as a disclaimer... Be sure it's clear to them that each attitude they can choose has side effects!