I don't know if it's a phase or a personality trait (they say these things skip a generation), but my daughter Katie and I seem to be constantly at odds.
I can't imagine where she came across the genes for stubbornness and argumentativeness.
It's belittling to be facing a 6-year-old in a battle for control. Even worse when I can't actually say that I'm winning.
It seems that we're always arguing about something, whether it be dinner, homework or medicine.
Last night was the straw that didn't break mom's back, but did make her realize that something's got to be done, and be done, before Katie becomes a teenager, prone to emotional fits.
It started with dinner. I told Katie not to save her vegetables until last, and I warned her not to drink all of her juice before she was finished.
But she plowed ahead. After all, what does mom know?
Soon, there was nothing on her plate but vegetables and not even a drop of juice remained in her cup.
Then came the debate.
The vegetables were too cold. She wasn't hungry. They don't taste good. I need more juice. If I had anything else left to eat, I could combine it with the vegetables to drown out the taste.
And on and on and on.
The battle of wills began. Would she cave in order to get play time or would she outwait mom, who had to go to bed sometime?
As she sat stubbornly at the table, eyes staring stonily into the air, I seriously doubted that the outcome would be in my favor.
I didn't think I'd waver, but I did believe she might have the power to outwait me.
Finally, with 36 minutes until bedtime and a bath still needed, I said, "Katie, would you eat them if I fed them to you?"
She, for God knows what reason, said yes.
So, I picked up her fork, folded over a green bean and put it in her mouth.
I thought my head would blow clean off my shoulders when she looked at me and said, "mmmm, that's good."
Just thinking about it increases my blood pressure all over again.
So, when it came time to put drops in her ears, Katie (who's prone to overreacting anyway), didn't even have a shot at getting the least bit of sympathy from her mother.
Let me mention here that Katie absolutely freaks out at the thought of having something in her ears.
She screams, cries, rolls back and forth and covers her ears with her hands. Logic, bribes, calm discussion have no effect on this reaction.
Katie failed her hearing test (seriously, I tell people my children are basically deaf only to discover they actually are ... oops) and the nurse is hoping the failure is attributable to waxy build-up. So, the drops really aren't optional.
We stare each other down, each speculating which direction the other will dart so we can react accordingly. I manage to catch Katie, use my chin to pin her into a headlock, wrap my leg around to trap her arms and use one arm to hold her head and the other to hold the eardrops.
Meanwhile, Katie's struggling and screaming and her sister jumps in to help, which means she's more than likely going to get kicked in the chin, so I have to use my other foot to keep her a safe distance away.
Seriously, anyone interested in a career as a contortionist needs to come and practice on Katie. She pretty much reacts the same way with certain medicines and all topical creams.
With drops administered and cotton balls plugging her ears, Katie looks at me in wonder and says, "That tickled."
I think a blood vessel popped in my brain.
Even worse, that's the exact same thing she said the last time we wrestled over ear drops.
I have a lot of faith in my ability to match anyone for stubbornness and argumentativeness (OK, maybe it didn't skip a generation), but I may have just met my match.
Meanwhile, it seems like the more trouble Katie's in, the sweeter her 5-year-old sister is. I don't know if it's deliberate, but the slower Katie eats, the faster Nikki eats. The more Katie fights about medicine, the calmer Nikki is about taking it. I don't know if Nikki would love homework nearly as much if Katie didn't despise it.
I don't know if Nikki is driven by fear, is naturally that sweet or is naturally that devious, and only does it because she knows it makes her sister look worse.
In any case, I'm grateful that's one battle I don't have to fight twice. I may be older and wiser, but they certainly have me beaten when it comes to stamina.