Day by Night

Dear J-

figgy has been watching folks play Minecraft on YouTube (the current object of her obsession is a fellow who calls himself Stampy Longnose, which may be an obsession she shares with other kids in the school, as we parents come together and commiserate about how the computer is tied up) and having what I’d term an angry attitude about stopping. The sass infuriates me so yesterday instead of pushing her away from the computer I turned it completely off instead, which set off a long tantrum of shoving, pinching, slamming and crying. Yeah, she’s seven. She’s also my daughter, which bears some explanation, I suppose.

I might have remarked in the past on how she is me, wrapped up in a little girl suit, which makes a kind of strange sense if you think about it: same inflated sense of confidence (which persists to this day, so be wary!), good sense of direction (hey, you missed your turn), explosive, conspirative temperament (nothing will ever be the same, you don’t understand). It’s that last that I ended up having to conquer over long hours of self-imposed service: hey, if you don’t like kids to play with your stuff, you should encourage them to play with your stuff so that you can get over it; similarly, learn to be more patient and accepting already, wouldja? These are skills to be led by example, and demonstrated competence, which I didn’t show when I turned off that computer in frustration.

There is a difference between action and reaction, after all. There is a significant chasm; mind the gap, that’s what I’m saying. I know it can be hard, which is why I have to remember where I was thirty years ago and project that forward in turn, to extend the same patient courtesies that helped me develop into this now. She will learn to control her temper before it masters her, as I did before her, as my parents must have done before me. The ebb and flow of anger is not always rational, but we are smarter than it, and we can get by. It was after the storm had passed yesterday — the forced cheeriness — that I finally realized what mirrors we create, how our reflections in these small people writ large echo who we were. It’s another chance.

Mike

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