My beautiful little daughter, Zee, is four going on fourteen–an especially cranky version of fourteen. A version of fourteen that can’t be reasoned with, refuses to put on shoes, has completely forgotten how to say “please”, and runs about, peremptorily making demands as though she is a queen and I her lowly scullery maid.
“Mommy, you work for me now,” she informed me this morning. I would have laughed, but she was perfectly serious, and apparently took for granted that my answer would be: “Sure thing, your Highness. How may I serve you?”. We had a little discussion which began with me explaining that I was the mother and therefore the boss, culminated in her screaming that I would do her bidding, and ended with my threatening to put her remaining toys in the attic. Three fourths of them are already up there. Time-outs don’t always work, spankings (though rarely employed) only succeed in making her vengeful, but incarceration of the dollies is proving a pretty darn effective tool.
When Zee isn’t planning a household coup, she is lovely to be around. She has this way of giving hugs where she just melts into you. She cries in sympathy when one of her little friends skins a knee. She puts on plays with her dolls that are full of mayhem and gore, but always end with air kisses and apologies. She chases her brother around and squeezes the breath out of him when he gets tired of running. She grabs my hand and invites me to dance with her. She tells me: “Your eyes are like stars and your lips are like roses and I love your heart”. She creeps up behind me, jumps on my back, and kisses me. She is the world’s best cuddler. She draws pictures of people with spidery eyelashes and makes up exciting stories about them. She wants to hug all the Disney princesses “’cause then they will be happy”. She sings sweetly to the flowers as she waters them.
Then she orders the brightly shining sun to go behind a cloud, and is shocked when it doesn’t obey. She finds a way to blame her brother for the light glaring in her eyes, and orders him to make the sun obey her. He laughs at her, and she quivers with rage.
Never have I met a child with such a relentless drive to be in control. It’s pretty clear that she was born to rule. It’s just my job to help her become a leader instead of a dictator.