Had one of those conversations with N this morning on the way to school. Where she didn’t like my answer to a question, so she kept talking at me in a snarky way. I finally pulled rank and said, “I’m your mother. When I say no, that’s it. You can think whatever you like, but sometimes, in life, it’s best to keep it to yourself and keep your mouth shut. Now is one of those times – you don’t get to have the last word here.”
She was furious. Muttered some – which I pointed out was the same thing as talking back – and reminded her that the last word was mine. Then we were at school and she was climbing out of the car, looking miserable because I had “won” and the whole interchange felt yucky and she wanted to stay mad and hate me, but still loves me, and I can relate. The whole interchange felt yucky to me too. But she’s nine and I can’t let her treat me that way or she’ll grow up to be a prima donna jerk who’s unemployable.
Being a mom is much, much harder than getting a PhD or teaching or writing.
On the short drive home, I thought about the messages about power she gets in school and the one I had tried to send this morning – that sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut and your thoughts to yourself – and I wondered if power messages are one of the things wrong with our schools and our democracy.
Then again, I was trying to teach her about respect – about treating other people with respect and not ventilating emotionally at them whenever one feels like it. Our society could use a bit more of that basic civility – online and in lines and on the air and everywhere.