My girl child is too much like me sometimes. She has a bit too much of the “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” in her. Having that attitude got myself in trouble quite a bit when I was younger…..less now, thankfully. It also made me work harder to get to where I needed (and usually wanted) to go, to avoid doing what was expected or required of me. Because, I don’t want to do something just because someone tells me to do it. She is the same way.

She has a problem with her teacher who she says “is such a stickler” for her procedures and rules. Rules… bleh. I feel her pain. I do. But we are trying to learn the ways of public school and not get in too much trouble, so we have to follow the rules. She had an incident at school and I was helping her think of coping strategies and finally I was honest with her.

“Sometimes, when people tell me to do something I don’t want to do but I know I have to do, this is what I do. I look at them and calmly say, ‘OK!’ But in my head I say, “FUCK YOU!!!!”

Her eyes got wide.

“But Mommy,” she said holding her hands to her face, “I sometimes already do that.”

“I know. Because you do it to me all the time.”

“What?! How do you know?”

“Because I made you and I can read your mind sometimes.”

She was impressed.

“Listen,” I told her. “Being stubborn and strong and wanting to do things the way YOU know is best for you is a good thing. But, it doesn’t work well in school, or in the world, all the time. You have to remember that you have this power and use it for good when you are older.”

I have always known that there was something inside of me that was contrary. I have known that there were times when someone told me to do something, something that I knew was good for me, or was the right thing to do, and I would not do it, just to spite them. I would let myself be harmed just because I would NOT do whatever it was I was told to do. Because I don’t want to obey. I want to do things my way and if I know what is right, then DON’T TELL ME what to do, just let me do it. This is a hard thing to train out of yourself, especially when you like that trait in yourself. It has taken me my whole life so far to come to this conclusion, which is: being contrary and wanting to do things your own way is a certain kind of brilliance, but you have to use this power not only for the good of the world, but for the good of yourself. Otherwise, it’s a problem.

Now, how do I teach her that when I had to learn it the hard way?