I know some of you perhaps have a better understanding than others of what having a strong-willed child is like. For the rest of you, here’s a small taste of what parenting this kid is like.
I got a call the other day from the wife, letting me know that our daughter had been suspended from school. She has been having a running conflict with a boy in her class, and it had apparently escalated.
Things took a nasty turn in the morning, when he picked up her bookmark from the floor near her desk, crumpled it up in front of her, and threw it away. She insists he knew it was hers, he insists he thought it was garbage. She apparently popped him in the face, and was sent to the office to cool down.
Later that day, with tempers running high, the two of them ran into each other during gym class. The gym teacher believes the collision was a genuine accident on his part, but of course given their history my daughter believed it was deliberate. She whipped him in the face with her coat, and at some point scratched his face with her fingernails. She was chasing him around the gym when the teacher had to step in and separate them.
So, long story short, she was suspended from school for a day and a half. Needless to say, this cannot happen again. She was grounded, and she lost the privilege to grow her fingernails out. And her mother wanted her to write letters of apology to the boy, the boy’s mother, and the gym teacher.
She’s been pretty quiet about the whole episode. She knows she screwed up. But her real opinion on the whole episode only became apparent when she was writing her apology notes.
To the mother:
“Dear Mrs. [XXXX], I’m sorry I hurt [the boy]. But you have to realize that he’s been seariously grinding on my nerves all week. I’m very sorry.”
So she was sent back to try again. Another of her efforts wasn’t much better:
Dear Mrs. [XXXX], I’m sorry about hurting [the boy]. I didn’t mean to hurt him that much. I’m very sorry.”
Sigh. Although she has been compliant and fairly meek (for her), it’s clear that deep in her heart, she knows he deserved it. And she isn’t going to back down from that easily.
And although I have to be sternly disapproving, a tiny little part of me applauds her. I would much rather have a daughter with fire in her heart, and a strong sense of justice, than a delicate flower that bends whichever way the wind blows. She can’t go on beating on people that tick her off, but I do want her to grow up committed to fairness. We just need to expand that sense of fairness and justice to include other people.
As said other person with understanding, I applaud your keeping on top of her about her behavior.
What’s worked for us in regard to this is that my child only takes it out on adults. And rarely on kids, which he has a little more patience for. I think my son thinks he’s a 14 year old trapped in a 7-year-old’s body. And that he should be able to make 14-year-old decisions. And gets angry when teachers or others in ‘power positions’ deny him that.
I took people’s shit until I was 14. Then if they pushed me, I pushed back harder. It got me detention once. The other time I got detention, I wrote a note about a bitch teacher I had and she found it, oops.
What shaped up my attitude? I was told it was one thing to screw up in the 7th and 8th grade, but if I did that in the 9th grade, it would go on my permanent record and it may affect weather or not I could go to college. I was never in any trouble after that…tho the attitude still lingers!