I admire her spirit, as I tear out my hair

by Veronica on April 26, 2012

in Amy, Gotta Laugh

“You may not speak to me like that, I’m your mother, not one of your school friends.”

I cringed inside as I snapped that sentence at Amy, remembering my mother saying exactly the same thing to me when I got too mouthy or talked back once too often. It was the right time to say it however, as Amy gulped and apologised.

Five is full of mouthiness and opinions and arguments. It’s also full of discussion, interesting conversations and some amazing creativity, but those aren’t the bits making me tear my hair out.

You don’t get to speak to me like that seems to be my catchphrase of the moment; the only thing I’ve got in the face of increasing rudeness and screams. It’s not that she isn’t allowed to disagree with me, it’s that she isn’t allowed to do it in quite that tone.

You know the tone, the you’re so much stupider than I am right now.

I’m sorry kid, I’m not stupid and you need to go and sit in your bedroom until you can speak nicely.

TIME OUT is my other weapon in my ever decreasing arsenal, as she shouts at me that she WILL NOT GO and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME and YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

I respond with you don’t get to speak to me like that, you can come out when you’re ready to speak nicely, NO, you CANNOT hit me and I swear to God child, you can stay in there until dinner is ready if you try that again and no, I don’t care that you kicked the wall, it wasn’t very sensible and ACTIONS EQUAL CONSEQUENCES. You hurt your OWN foot.

It’s frustrating and admirable how defiant she is in the face of two parents staring her down. Even as I march her to time out, with, if I’m being honest, the help of her ear because there was no other option short of bodily lifting her, I am proud of her spirit and of her anger, and her ability to decide what she wants and aim for it no matter what.

I don’t want to destroy that.

I also don’t want her hitting – me or anyone else, or thinking that it’s okay to shout I WANT and expecting me to capitulate simply because she wants something.

Five is tough, and extraordinary.

Five is where the influence of her peers starts to war with the influence we can provide and I’m left explaining that X is not the boss of you and you can play with other kids if X is being mean.

I suspect that X is a sassy little so-and-so at school – but I can’t blame my daughter’s behaviour on them.


Five is amazing, however I’m not sure I’m going to get through it with all of my hair follicles intact. Amy shouts and screams and throws objects and gets marched to her bedroom to think about why she needs to speak nicely over and over again. It doesn’t seem to make any difference, except that she’s learned the value of a good apology (spoken 5 seconds into the time-out, with expectation that she is free and clear because of a sorry) and I’ve learned that she responds poorly to being told that Sorry can’t fix everything and you need to think about why I’m unhappy with you.

It was easier, when she was smaller. She was more contrite, less mouthy and if nothing worked, at least she was small enough to be lifted bodily without causing any damage. Now, flung elbows are like little sharp javelins that you’ve got to dodge for the sake of your nose.

It’s hard and amazing, to watch your child grow into herself.

Now excuse me, I need a hot drink and a good lie down.

Danielle April 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Oh I know where your coming from I have a fiery miss 6, with all the attitude, eye rolling, feet stomping abilities there is.
Some days I marval at her individualism and try to embrace who she is and trying to become but other days I struggle as she is still my baby an so impressionable, and I see those bad influences marching, and back chatting there way through my home. Parenting sucks

Marylin April 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Ohh I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve used the “you don’t speak to me like that, mister” line with Zack. He’s a back chatting, cheeky, articulate lil grrrrrrr when he wants to be!
Amazing and annoying at the same time, eh? At least you’ve got extra hair with the pregnancy and all! 😉 xx

Deb April 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

That’s exactly where we are. ‘Tone’ and ‘Attitude’ are the two most common warnings in our house at the moment.
We had an enormous breakthrough the other day when she managed to shut up long enough to calm down rather than escalating. It involved yelling at everyone else to be quiet, but it’s still a step forward.

jen April 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

On my son’s second day at school he was dragged out of the classroom by the principal because of his defiance and he’s been defiant aside from that as well. He has calmed down a lot since then at school and thankfully for me, but I know exactly what you mean (he’s nearly 11 now). I don’t want to crush his spirit but he’s gotta learn some respect too. He still talks like a smartarse to me and I told him just this morning not to expect any playdates this weekend. There’s gotta be some consequences. I just hope his best friend asks him so I can say no and he feels those consequences! Although sometimes his punishment is mine also. Damn, it’s hard.

Ames April 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

I get what you mean about their spirit, if they didn’t have that we’d worry. At the time it doesn’t help though when they’re in the midst of a tantrum. I’m not looking forward to the future tantrums especially when they hit the tween years. I think a lot of trips to the grannies will be happening!

kathy April 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Hey you guys! I’m not a mum but I think your children are all very LUCKY!

jess@diaryofasahm April 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I blogged something very similar the other day! Our almost six year old is shocking! Today when told know she just screamed at me in pure defiance!
I really hope that you get it sorted soon; I completely understand your exhaustion.

river April 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Ha! The schoolyard influence. I remember it, although it seemed fairly mild because my kids weren’t much on screaming. There was a bit of schoolbag throwing (not at me) and door slamming…
I suppose a “that sort of language/behaviour isn’t allowed in this house” doesn’t help?
What about asking “how do you feel when I scream at you? Make you go to your room?” Then telling Amy that you feel just as bad when she screams at you.
After she’s apologised and come out, of course, there’s no use saying this when she’s screaming.

Mary @ Parenthood April 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm

My daughter isn’t there yet but niece just turned six, so I definitely understand what you mean about five! Tricky, tricky age. All this focus on two is mind boggling to me. At two you can at least pick them up if necessary.

Anyway, sounds like you are doing an amazing job! Hang in there :) You didn’t ask for advice, but we love “What your Explosive Child is trying to tell you” by Douglas Riley so much I feel compelled to recommend it! Found the suggestions useful even for the non-five year olds in my life.

One Too Many April 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Aaaah, I have been having those exact conversations in my house.
She is 10….it doesn’t get any better!!!
It seems to happen earlier in girls – my youngest boy – 8 – is just starting with the “tude” …Enjoy, I was told once that children who can do this at an early age are highly intelligent. Not sure if it’s exactly true – but I’m OK with that!

Corey Feldman April 28, 2012 at 3:36 am

My oldest is 5 and we are seeing some push back/testing boundaries. But they are amazing at that age.

Marita May 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I say the same thing to Annie, often. She is very strong willed, it is challenging.

On Tuesday last week she was yelling at me and kicking me, in the school office, principal, secretary, teachers all watching as my child treated me with such contempt. I was proud of myself for keeping my calm and removing her to the car but by god I wanted to yell and scream.

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