When Missy started to talk, it certainly opened up Pandora’s box. It was fantastic, I thought. This was the opportunity for me to tell her what to do… But in reality it was merely a more efficient way for her to tell me what to do. She started out doing this, with the minimum of effort, “eat” “water” “sit” and her personal favourite – “no”.
Suddenly I found myself with a child that could express herself forcefully and verbally. You’d think that would be good news, no more guessing what’s wrong. Yet it seemed to throw up a new problem: Missy expressed herself forcefully and verbally. If she didn’t want something, (and this seemed to be popular), she told me. She even occasionally pouted, and angrily crossed her arms when demanding this or that. (I had no idea that was a genetic female trait). But that shouldn’t be a problem because I am the boss after all, and the boss is always right…right?
Well, I like to think I am in charge, but when Missy demands rice and rejects couscous, would the boss meekly go and make her a bowl? Then 5 minutes later when the couscous is rejected and rice demanded, it doesn’t look like the man in charge is asserting his authority when back he goes to get rice.
Missy’s talking does make for some testing times. In playgrounds all over Hong Kong, my daughter plays with the firm rule “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours in mine” It seems that sharing is not an inherent trait in humans. She understands it now, reluctantly, but for ages, she was firmly in the camp of “everything belongs to me”. This included, and still includes, her mother. If I go to kiss and/or hug my wife, a small but firm hand comes between us, and a firm “no” sends me on my way.
This newfound skill opened all kinds of doors for her. When she wanted a toy or an object, she pointed and cried out “this! this!” rather than just crying and wildly flailing her arms about. Hmmm, come to think of it…why is that better?
My wife and I are currently teaching her to say “please” when she wants something. But at her age, the downside is she thought for quite a time, “please”, would get her whatever she wanted. She didn’t understand that no amount of ‘please’ will give her access to the carving knives. It actually must be quite confusing at her age. I understand (but don’t agree), why I can’t have a 108” LCD TV, despite the rugby and cricket seasons overlapping, but for Missy, why she can’t catch the bus by herself when she said please is beyond her.
But it’s not all bad; she has taken to greeting my wife in the morning with a smile, hug, and a “pretty mummy”. On the other hand, Missy greets me in the morning with “water please”, and on delivery, “bye bye,” as she toddles off to Mum. I think most fathers of girls get this for a while, anyway. Mum is just the centre of their universe. I am sure a time will come when I will get a go, as long as it’s not during the rugby, of course.