But for young children for whom identity is not yet chiseled into the
may be all there is.
There are times any
will attest to when children drive you cr-a-a-a-zy. It doesn't
matter what you say. It doesn't matter whether you're right or wrong.
There are times when their job in the world is to disagree with you -
whether you agree with them or not.
"I agree with you.". "No you don't.". "OK, you're right. I don't.".
"Yes you do.".
You can't win.
Frankly I was thrilled. And I wondered what would happen next. I could
share something potent from what each of my children experienced.
Instead I've chosen something
experienced to represent what all three of them experienced. Here's
* * *
her as manipulating. I began to speak with her about it. I began to
reason with her about it. Nothing I said worked.
I agree with you.". "No you don't.". "OK, you're right. I don't.". "Yes
you do." ... you know, she had it on automatic.
I was going nowhere fast.
Then, almost as an afterthought, I turned on my heel, walked away, and
left her alone with whatever was going on with her. It was actually
hard for me not to stay entangled with her - I love her that much. The
love between a father and
is something fierce. Even entanglement may be worth being in when it's
Yet now she was a
so I bit my tongue and walked away from her. But not too far away. I
walked into the living room where I could still hear her and, out of
the corner of my eye, I could still see her ... even if I pretended I
couldn't. This is what I heard and saw.
* * *
She had her arms tightly crossed over her chest. She was in what I call
a sulk. Her lips were pouted. Her brow was furrowed. She was talking to
herself. This is what she was saying:
"This is not working for me. Whenever I get like this, I think I'll
get something out of it but I never do. I don't know why I stay in this
mood. I want him to notice me. Yet even if he does notice me when I get
like this I'm still not happy. This doesn't work. This doesn't work
for me. It should. But it doesn't.".
She went on and on and on talking to herself, posing scenarios,
responding to herself, always coming up with the same conclusion: she
expected a certain result which was just not happening.
literally spellbound, pretending I didn't hear or see.
Had she been an older woman, you may have heard her adding: "Damn it!".
But she is a child so she said it in a way a child says it.
And then in front of my amazed eyes, she uncrossed her arms, lit up her
face with a smile like all the neon in Las Vegas suddenly came on all
at once, and she literally danced and skipped away from the corner of
the wall against which she had held herself captive. She smiled and she
danced and she skipped and she smiled and she danced and she skipped.
She barely noticed me standing there. Almost as an afterthought she
looked over at me and ... smiling and dancing and skipping ... said
offhandedly: "Oh, Hi Daddy!".
Was the result of
in my children's lives short lived? Was it just once
got off it like that? No. It's ongoing. Do my children get on it after
Of course they do. They are, after all, human beings. Whenever they get
they are on it, they have the choice to get off it. When they get it
they get it. When they don't get it they don't get it. And as soon as
they get they don't get it, they have the choice to get it again.