I never thought the day would come. I never thought that we would be on the same page together. The day when we would agree. The day the eye rolling would stop or even decrease was a pipe dream. Pixie Stick and I have not agreed on anything since she was….before she was born. Since she was a preemie, I like to say she didn’t agree with my uterus. I believe it started there.
I used to joke with people about this. Pixie Stick would argue that the sky was orange just because I said it was blue. I am not kidding, that was an actual argument when she was three. I would try to help her with her homework. I was always wrong. Math was impossible (when I could teach the math). In her mind 1 + 1 = 3. Only because I said it equaled two. I could give you a million things that she would claim the opposite, it went on forever.
I am also not kidding when I say that if I had something important that we disagreed on, with regard to her safety or health, I would ask her teachers at school to please discuss it with her. She believed them. She would come home and tell me how Ms. SoAndSo told her that running in the street was dangerous and she should never do that. She would no longer dart away from me into the street, or in public places from that point on. Doesn’t matter that I told her the same thing a million times, I didn’t know anything. True story.
The irony of all of this is that I was an elementary school teacher for the first ten years of her life. Her older sister, Red, would always tell her (screaming as that is the level we would be at by the time Red felt she should intervene) “Mommy is a teacher, she knows this stuff! GEEEEZE!” Another true story.
I always taught my kids that I would never lie to them, and I never did. With the exception of the Easter Bunny and Santa, we can argue that point at a later time, I told them the truth. I taught them that if I didn’t have the answer, I would find out myself or find someone who did. Didn’t matter. Pixie Stick, for some reason, always thought my source was suspect. Maybe it WAS the imaginary beings that I pushed on her. The Tooth Fairy might have pushed her too far, but it started long before that.
So trust me when I say the teenage years have been … interesting to say the least. Lot’s of fights, arguments, and disagreements. The snotty teenage stuff that many parents experience, times ten. I have been the victim of eye rolling since she was in the womb. If I had access to the video sonograms I’m sure we would have seen one. It didn’t improve through the teenage years.
I have often been surprised that the eye rolls did not affect her vision in someway. I thought on more than one occasion that we would need to see a doctor to get them back to normal.
I will (grudgingly) admit that she comes by it honestly. On a scale of 1-10 of willful stubbornness I would probably rate a good 8. Definitely a 10 when I was her age. I have mellowed with time, but not much. I was raised in New Jersey, and Jersey girls don’t back down. She lived in New Jersey until she was seventeen. So I taught her all I know, and she was a hell of a student.
Then, one day, like magic, she started to listen to me. I don’t know exactly when it happened. I don’t know the exact date I became believable. I wish I did, because it would be recorded for all time. I might have even made a poster and had it framed and displayed in my foyer for all to see had I thought of it.
Sometime during her senior year in high school she started to value what I had to say. Looking for colleges, planning her path to becoming a nutritionist, helping her with applications, and asking questions about choices she was making. It all just started to flow in a direction of positivity. She not only listened. She would take my advice. I am still in shock.
I did approach each situation with careful apprehension. Sort of like a hiker coming across a bear on a path. Move slowly, don’t startle. Sometimes play dead. Any sudden moves could bring about an attack.
I will say it is not perfect. We still find plenty of reasons to disagree, but it is much less than ever before. We both are even getting pretty good at apologizing when we do. It may take a day or two, but we get there. I no longer worry about the permanent impact to her vision.
I look forward to talking, shopping, cooking, and just being together. I know the odds of it ending in an argumentative stubborn-fest are less than about 5% now. Compared to the 50% of the time it was before, I’ll take this as a true sign she is maturing and we are developing a healthy relationship.
There Is Hope
I am proud of Pixie Stick. I know that her tenacious grip on things can be a great asset to her in the future. It can also be a detriment if she doesn’t learn to control this super power. I know she is learning to discern and she researches things thoroughly. I hope I have taught her to find the truth and be careful of the source. If she is thoughtful her backbone will serve her well. She won’t be walked on, and that is good thing if used with a bit of common sense and fairness. Learning tact is still something she needs to work on, but it is coming along.
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The cure was not instantaneous and fast. It has been seventeen to eighteen years of giving the treatment of parenthood without losing my mind.
For those of you with children, who like Pixie Stick, have what you believe to be a permanent case of “eye roll” there is hope. It appears to be a condition that they grow out of. It takes a medicine of love, patience, time, as well as firm boundaries. Don’t give up, don’t give in, there is light at the end of the teenage tunnel. I am thrilled to have finally reached it’s glow.
How many of you have strong willed children who have developed into lovely young adults? How many of you are struggling? Who can offer a bit of advice on surviving the eye roll epidemic?