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My Daughter, the button pusher

November 27, 2013

I always heard about how kids are experts at pushing their parents buttons.  I guess they hone in on what agitates parents the most in order to hold some power over them. “You didn’t give me a cookie yesterday, even when I said please, so yes I looked right at you while purposely spilling my juice on the floor.”  Jack, our eldest, never really went out of his way to piss us off.  He might do something he shouldn’t, but it wasn’t out of malice.

My 2.5 year old daughter on the other hand is extremely good at it.  She can send my wife from mildly annoyed to full blown fury with one prissy bat of her eyes.  I fear, like seriously, FEAR the teenage years in my house.

       Poor Jack

My poor son is hopelessly outmatched.  She knows EXACTLY how to piss him off.  She’ll be sitting next to him while he plays his tablet, the perfect picture of the sweet little sister.  Then…completely out of the blue, she will pop up and smack his screen.  If he ignores her, she does it again.  If he reacts with a whine, she smacks it a bunch of time real fast, yells at him, and then starts laughing.

He will be happily playing with his trains and again she’ll just sit there and watch or even play along when, unprovoked, she will just sliiiiiide her foot over just enough to knock the train off the track.  This instantly turns him into a whining mess, then she’ll look at me and , no kidding, will put on a look of innocence and say “Jack crynin.”  I wonder why.

The sad reality is, he never pushes her buttons.  His only beef is when he wants to play by himself and she interrupts that.  He never goes out of his way to get a rise out of her.


Girl’s got attitude!

      Only one is immune

Her button pushing ways don’t really work that well on  me.  Sure, she gets me fired up, but its more over general toddler behavior, not because her “attitude” as it were.  Her eye rolling usually cracks me up.  She gives me a nasty “NNNOO!” while looking sideways, doing her best to be a total shit and I have to hold back a laugh.  When she purposefully misbehaves, I don’t reward it with anger.

She does have one weapon that she is always improving upon.  Like the velociraptor in Jurassic Park, she’s always trying different angles.  She hones it.  She fine tunes it.  Sometimes, she finds a chink in my armor and files that away for future reference.  She is on her way to perfecting that daddy-daughter super-weapon…Cuteness and Sweetness.

      She’ll have you wrapped around her finger

I’ve heard it since the day she was born, how “that little girl will have you wrapped around her finger!” I’ll admit, I’ve gotten woven around there a few times, but I owe it to her to not be the dad that always gives in.  I don’t want a daughter who is so spoiled by her daddy that she expects life to be handed to her on a silver platter.  She needs to make mistakes, even painful ones, so she can grow into a strong, confident, and brilliant woman.  I want her to know that she can tackle anything in life on her own.  The hard part is striking the right balance between building independence and letting her know that, no matter what, I will be here for her.

Another reason I strive for that balance is respect.  Shortly after Kaylee as born we were at a store and there was a ~19 yr old girl working at the register.  We were buying some small shovels for the kids and mentioned to the girl that “yeah, these would even be good to keep in the car in case it snows.”  This girl says “I don’t really need it, I’ll just call my dad and make him shovel me out.”  At first I thought “sounds like a really good dad.”  But after we left it started nagging at me.  I want to be there to help my daughter, if she hurt her ankle and needed to get out to a job interview, I’d be over in a second to dig her out.  But, I really don’t want her first thought to be “I’ll just make my dad do it.”  I want her to appreciate me, not take advantage of me.  I want her first thought to be how she’d take care of it herself, then look to my help if she needs it.

So far I’ve managed to be in control of my faculties, only letting her extreme cuteness win the day when I want it to (mostly that is). It’s getting trickier all the time.   She’s learning the posture: the angled head, sweet smile, bright eyes and the slight back and forth twirl.  And she’s learning the talk: the falsetto “Petty Peeeeease daddy, I have it?”  Honestly, even if she didn’t “pour it on” I would still struggle as my children’s happiness is by and far the most important thin in my life.

I fear the day is not far in which she gets something out of me I had not planned on giving in on.  I will continue the good fight and I hope that she will only win when I want her to.


“Ok, I guess you can jump in the puddle”

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