Monday, July 09, 2007

what's the price and who's paying?

I'm listening to S bathing P. It's been a nightly ritual since she was about 1. when he stopped worrying about drowning or breaking her. It's incredible what he lets her get away with. she was late getting in the bath because she was messing around in her room and wouldn't come to the bathroom. he negotiates too much with her. lets her speak to him in a really rude tone. "I've. told. you. before. I'm coming. in. a. minute" she messed around instead of getting undressed. refused to brush her teeth or let him brush them. continued to be rude. he cajoles and proposes terms. she continues to bark at him. and all the while it's getting later and later, she's getting more and more tired. until any little things makes her scream and cry. too many bubbles. not enough bubbles. some toy not floating upside down. some bubbles on her ducks. she shouts and squawks and defies him. calls him names. "banana brain, "silly," accuses him of not listening when she barks instructions. throws bath toys. splashes him aggressively.

anyone who has met her, people who have spent huge amounts of time with her, our closest friends, have never heard her behave like this. not to another child and definitely not to an adult. she is, for the most part, as far as three year olds can be, thoughtful, polite and respectful. this behaviour is reserved specially for daddy.

most nights there are periods of hysterical laughter, as he invents some great new game with the assortment of toys. but it always ends the same way.

I've often tried to avoid the situation by suggesting that mummy give her her bath tonight, but she always protests that daddy should do it. it's horrible. like those kids in school who can sniff out the most likely victims of their bullying. She knows that S is so desperate to avoid confrontation, so eager to be the one she chooses, that he'll endure any amount of abuse from her.

I've intervened once or twice, but he resents it. feels it undermines him. i've never suggested to him that perhaps this particular horse has already bolted and the stable door is well and truly slammed on his fingers.


At 8:13 pm, July 09, 2007, Anonymous Jenny said...

Kids see those chinks in our armor and take advantage of them. It's a hard thing though, to give them the structure that they need.

At 1:59 am, July 10, 2007, Blogger Slackermommy said...

Your hubby is just like mine. It drives me crazy that he lets our kids manipulate him. He has gotten a little better about it though. It has to be exhausting. I keep reminding him that he is the parent and they are the child.

At 9:08 am, July 10, 2007, Blogger HerImperialMajesty said...

wow. if i'd ever tried that with my dad, he would've whipped me out the water and tanned my hide (an event that i must stress only occurred very infrequently but lived large in memory).

My psychiatrist mate says that we teach people how to treat us: ie i taught an ex to take me for granted and he did.

the more this goes on, the worse it will get

and she is SO not like that

although the bubbles thing does freak her pretty easy.

i am defo taking her swimming next time i come, if you're OK with it. you have all been warned.
no bubbles in that water...

incidentally, does he let the puppy boss him around too?

At 8:22 pm, July 10, 2007, Blogger nonlineargirl said...

The hard part for me would be the interaction with my husband. For the most part we agree on how to respond to our gal, but once in a while we disagree and have to tread carefully to work it out.

At 8:08 pm, July 11, 2007, Blogger lildb said...

wow wow wow wow wow.


it's like I just read about my own life, only with some actual insight and perspective involved.

also, it makes me want to cry and simultaneously gnaw through my fingers.

can you please call me soon so you can explain how it is that you understand this so much fucking better than I do?



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