Who's the boss, anyway?


"Mom, let Buddy in!" Katie bellowed from the bathroom -- the bathtub, to be exact.

She's well attuned to the dog's need to come and go. I'm not sure why. She's not really that fond of the dog, but she monitors his movements closely.

She usually is the one who races to the door, catering to the dog's constant dissatisfaction with his current conditions.

In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

She has the energy to keep up and is young enough not to question the absurdity of his needs. His brain may be the size of a pea, but I'm sure his bladder is not.

Anyway, evidently Katie is in tune, even from the bathtub.

That's disconcerting enough, but her tone was what really put me over the edge.

I put on 25 pounds of baby weight and lost it where I wanted it to stay and kept it where I needed it to go. My favorite knickknacks are dust, there are red marker pictures on my walls, I used my vacation fund to buy diapers, there are Crayons in my purse and I get a full night's sleep twice a year.

In exchange, and at the very least, I should be in charge!

My 4-year-old should not think -- even think for a second -- that she is the boss.

I have to tell her -- often -- "you're not in charge."

Of course, she pretends not to understand what I'm talking about, but when I tell her to do something, she responds by telling me, "You're not in charge."

Yes, we have a few things to discuss.

What is it about children. How can they -- so small and so new -- also be so audacious?

Nikki's the best at it. Three years old and just heading into her terrible twos, she's discovered the word "no" and uses it with impunity.

Why is it, with so many delicious words to learn, so many ideas to express, that children get stuck on "no?"

It's not even a fun word -- the kind that says so much and rolls though your mouth before popping off your tongue.

Psychologists might say it gives children a feeling of power and fulfills a need to have some control over their lives and environments.

I think they just like to see that particular expression and unique shade of red on an adult's face. You know, the expression you make when you're halfway between anger and laughter?

My grandfather tells a story of chasing down his son, no thoughts other than a massive clobbering. Suddenly, his son turned around, started dancing and singing, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"

Laughter automatically dissipates all those murderous urges parents are sometimes stricken with, but never admit to.

Despite my frustration with Katie's presumption that she could make me let the dog in, that's where I was, too.

Her audacity drove me to laughter.

And to the door.

I'm aware that wasn't the greatest example for my "you're not in charge" argument. Consistent parenting isn't always realistic.

The dog has to come inside at some point.

Doesn't he?

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