My four-year-old daughter has very strong personality. From the birth she had a serious look, and she never showed us an angelic and innocent infant's smile throughout her first year. She seemed to analyze everything around her, study things how they work, her eyes were busy to follow people around her. My husband and I called her Miss.Serious.
She developed her motor skills quite early as she started to walk by 10 month. Her language was also developed earlier than average in the language development charts. As well as her feisty attitude came along earlier than I would have expected.
One time my close friend nicknamed my daughter, Tazmanian devil from Looney tunes. I had to agree with her. My little girl wore me out just by looking at her.
Time passes in a speed of light, good times and bad times eventually turn around, and here we are now in 2012. My daughter is soon to be five. She's my only child and she's going to be only child for a while. But her extreme social character demanded me to enroll classes after classes. She wanted to play with her age group.
Yesterday she wanted to stay longer with her friends playing soccer in the gymnasium. I explained we need to go home, eat lunch, and get ready for her school in the afternoon. She got sulky and reluctantly followed me in the car. While she was having snack and juice on our way home, she complained why I picked her up early so that she couldn't play with other friends. She made all blame that it was my fault that she couldn't enjoy her time with her gangs. When I parked the car in front of our house, she finally yelled at me with wide open eyes, "you are a bad mom!"
I couldn't believe what I just heard. Did she just scream I am a bad mom? I bit my lips, and stared at her straight, "let's talk in the house. Get in right now!"
There wasn't any argument. My angry voice and snappy narration hollered at the entrance in the house. "I am your mom," I shrieked, "you are only 4 years old. You never talk to your mom like that. Do you wanna know what bad mom is? You go in your room. Stay there until you realize what you have said!"
I didn't want to hear her fake crying, her belated apology, and exaggerated tantrum. She got in her room, and I poured cold water in the glass. A deep sigh, and again, and again, I tried to change my mind but I couldn't slip this away. Mother's day was only two days ago, and she was all happy to tell me I'm the best mom in the world. I guess I'm not anymore.
Half an hour later, her room door slowly opened. Her face peeked out from the tiny gap between the door and the wall. I heard her quiet foot step toward the kitchen table, where I sat entire time thinking and listening her movement. I felt a little stroke on my waist. On the corner of my eyes, I saw her "I-am-so-sorry" face. "Mom," she said, "I was wrong. I'm not gonna say such things again. You are my good mama."
During my contemplation, I thought a lot about my reactions toward her. Was there any other way to teach her the lesson? Was I supposed to talk differently? How should I make this issue clear so that she doesn't forget? The big problems usually start with small ones, and I had to make it clear from the beginning. My brain activity accelerated as I narrow down to the bullet point the key issues. As I clear my mind, I started feel calm and knew what to say.
"Listen very carefully." I spoke quietly but firmly, "first of all, you need to respect your parents. I'm here to guide you to make the right choice. You simply complained because you didn't get what you wanted without much consideration. The way you talked to me in the car is unacceptable. You keep forgetting although I gave you enough warning. There's always bad consequences if you don't think properly. You need to learn from your own mistake, you got it? That's life."
Whether she understood it or not, I needed it verbalized. It was a message to myself as well. To be fair, I should watch myself to be a good example for her. My head and shoulder felt heavy.