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13. My daughter is not a people-pleaser.

November 7, 2011

Carpooling on the way school this morning, she began to emit a series of sharp, angry grunts. These quickly escalated into shrill, staccato screams. My usual response to this would be: “Oh delicate-flower-petal of mine, if you are upset, use your words.” But in this case, I knew what the problem was. I have forbidden her to say “I hate you,” or “I hate Huckleberry,” when Huck is in the car. Huckleberry* has the massive grin of a 5-year old, Disney-version of his namesake. He has tousled blond hair. Whenever I pick him up in the morning, or see him at school, his giant blue eyes sparkle, he waves at me and calls out my name. Adorable. My fragile blossom hates him. If she were a little older, I’d say she had a crush on him. As it is…. I don’t know… jealousy? Irritation? Just perpetual crankiness and some serious scapegoating? This morning, in defiance of me, she replaced the screams with vehement words. Not only “I hate Huckleberry,” but “I hate everyone who is not mom or my brother,” thus implicating our other carpooling buddy – usually an innocent bystander.

“Oh sweet-blooming-flower, who perfumes the day and night with your tender fragrances,” I said, “If you are mean to people, they won’t like you and won’t want to be your friend. Can you please be a little nicer?”

“Yeah,” said Huck.

“Yeah,” said Innocent Bystander.

She wasn’t having any of it. And frankly, here I’m a little stumped. Because, unlike my daughter, I am a people-pleaser. I am not, as a rule, mean to people. More, I often try to be nice. Double more, I find myself saying “nice” things to people, just so that they will be my friend. I am a nice girl, a good girl – so please please please like me? As a rule, in my life, this has not served me.

I want my daughter to be tough and strong and occasionally bad-ass. And I also want her to be kind and compassionate and to have a great capacity for friendship and intimacy. So that’s my challenge for today: how to help her (and myself) find the balance between the rose and its thorns.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And, as my friend pointed out, he really does look like Huck Finn.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 2:58 am

    I wonder why she doesn’t like Huck? Curious if you asked her if she’d have a reason why?
    I just learned after nearly 35 years of living, it is okay to not like someone. . . however I still want to love them as a fellow child of God. Usually I find I don’t like those who remind me of the qualities I dislike in myself; all the more reason to love them – to better find ways of loving me!

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