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Friday, March 03, 2006


Last night Megan and I had another argument. On the surface it was about celery, but really it was about respect and the fact that I don’t feel my nine-year-old gives me enough of it. Of course, Megan thought it was because I wasn’t giving her celery.

The usual spark that ignites my rage is her tone of voice; condescension, disdain, or sassiness can all work me into quite a state. It feels very important to me that we don’t allow disrespectful backtalk, though I encourage the children to disagree with me in civil tones. The problem is that sassiness is more difficult to enforce than other types of discipline infractions. Tone of voice is subject to interpretation and sometimes in the ear of the listener. When I am tired, my threshold is lower. When Megan is tired, her pitch is higher. When we’re both tired, it’s bad news.

As always, we made up afterwards. She explained how she felt misunderstood. I explained how I felt disrespected. We usually feel closer after a fight, but there is part of me that just feels wary now that this battle over how she speaks to me is only going to intensify during the coming years. She’s feeling her power, in a way, her ability to be independent. But then she feels her dependence too and how much she needs me. During the night she tossed and turned, spoke out in her sleep a few times like she was distressed about something. I went in, kissed her head, wrapped the comforter back around her, and remembered that she’s still a child.


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