Tuesday, August 16, 2005

With raising a child, it seems like there's always the Problem Du Jour. They're usually less tasty than soup, but sometimes just as ephemeral.

In the past I've written about some of my parenting issues, like when my daughter refused to poop, or when I feared she was becoming a social outcast (still in progress), or when she developed a fondness for puking on me.

(Apologies to anyone who followed that last link. Apparently I never wrote about her fondness for puking on me, but symmetry demanded a link going somewhere....)

Today's issue is that Daisy, at the tender age of 6, is turning out to be a not-so-nice child. I mean, she says her Pleases and Thank-yous with regularity, but when she's interacting with her peers, her tone and manner can border on mean-spirited. This is a rather unpleasant turn in the development of our child.

I know, I know. It's hardly headline news that Mike, the surly curmudgeon, is raising an eye-rolling and sarcastic child, but I'm honestly surprised. I will admit to being a somewhat gruff father, and I'm more than willing to accept the lion's share of blame here, but it's still disappointing to hear the tone of voice she uses with her playmates.

Regardless, we have now embarked upon a niceness campaign in the house. We've suspended Daisy's playdates until she demonstrates to us that she's capable of removing the edge from her otherwise sweet little six year-old voice. Truth be told, we're not quite sure how to encourage niceness. Most of the time that she interacts with her peers, we're not around to monitor it (summer camp, school, etc), so it's hard to tell if we're succeeding here. However, we're doing our best to persuade her that being nice is an imperative part of having friends (even if the mere existence of my friends proves otherwise).

On a lighter and unrelated note, here's something that amused me.

My wife prepared Daisy's lunch yesterday, including zucchini sticks and some dip. Daisy doesn't really care for zucchini, so my wife called her over to test and see if the dip made the zucchini experience more palatable. Daisy carefully dipped the zucchini and gingerly chewed a bit of it.

"Hey!" she said, raising her eyebrows with surprise, "Not baaaad!" She nodded her head approvingly while my wife and I happily looked on with nutritional glee.

"Oh," she continued, "I still have my gum in my mouth," bringing instant clarity to the situation. She spat out her green apple gum and then found that the zucchini was then slightly less pleasing. It was, however, still acceptable.

The moral of the story is to wrap your vegetables in gum.


Colby said...

If you think your daughter's bad at this age, wait until middle school. I'm currently having to deal with the monster of a little sister that I created -- by the time she's my age, she may be the first person to kill someone with words alone.

Mike said...

I've heard plenty of bad things about kids in middle school. At this point I'm just assuming that if its as bad as everyone says, we'll still be able to put her up for adoption at that point.

Tasty said...

Can we chat about "nice"? Fair, or even-tempered may be better. I could type for DAYS about the crappy things that happen to women who only know how to be "nice".

Mike said...

Tasty, I see what you're saying. Clearly I don't want my daughter to be a doormat who is trained to be nice in all occasions. Hopefully, however, there is a reasonable middle ground between that and where she is now. I'd like her to treat her peers with respect and to treat her friends with kindness. She's welcome to kick the ass of people who mistreat her.

Elmo Oxygen said...

Nose army. I went through a very brief mean and rebellious stage when I was 11 or 12. It wasn't intentional, but I was just developing some bad social habits, like shooting my BB gun at neighbors' houses. Anyway my parents had a talk with me, basically saying, "We think you've been kinda mean and nasty recently, which is so unlike the real Elmo we know and love. Why do you think that is?" That made me think a lot more consciously about my behavior, and was one of those early shocks when you learn that you can actually have an impact on the world around you, for better or worse.

Obviously Daisy is at a different stage and different level of wickedness, but she seems to be way smarter than I ever was, so maybe an analogous talk would help.

Also, try being slightly less surly and curmudgeonly around her. From previous posts about her, I get the impression that she idolizes you. Maybe she is trying to emulate your sarcasm but just doesn't have that whole irony thing down yet. You know, when you're around strangers, you usually tone down the sarcasm. Try assuming that she is a stranger to sarcasm.

Just some ideas. Past results are no guarantee of future performance. YMMV. Smell sign.

Mike said...

Elmo, despite the odd tags around your message, your suggestions are pretty much the changes that we're trying to implement here. My wife vigilantly watches my sarcasm output and we're encouraging Daisy to show everyone the sweet nice Daisy that she usually shows us blah blah blah.

I imagine that the parenting problems just get more complex and harder from here on out. I think I'll start stunting her physical growth with cigarettes and postponing the onset of puberty with tons of enforced exercise.

dulciana said...

The tons of enforced exercise seem to be working wonders with our preschooler, so I highly recommend it! Don't know what effect it might eventually have on puberty, but that's a long way off, so I won't worry about it. She can add it to the list of things to blame me for later. Thanks for the gum/zucchini tip.

Mike said...

Rumor around the watercooler is that kids hit puberty WAAAAY too damn early. I'm getting an early jumpstart on my paranoia.

Tasty said...

I have every confidence that you'll handle the situation well! Thanks for replying to my comment, which, when I reread it, actually came out a bit more snippy than I had intended! :-)

Mike said...

Tasty, one of the good/horrible/handy/annoying things about me is that I'm fairly oblivious to subtext. So, if you ever do decide to be snippy, please be obvious about it.