One Indignant Girl

Our eight-year-old girl’s latest thing: Indignant, hurt outrage.

In fact, one of her key phrases now if we mention that, for example, she has some attitude and isn’t doing what she should because she’s obviously still stewing about that special something that we have to delay a few days, she’ll cry out: “You’re accusing me!”

Dear God, I thought I had until 12 or 13 before I started getting that.

Several days ago, at a restaurant, we told her something she didn’t like. I don’t remember what it was, but I think it was a change in some plans we had originally made for the coming days and activities for her. In any case, she had this poopy face that was really annoying, and totally out of proportion to what was going on. I mean, whatever we had changed, it only meant a wait of a couple days, as I recall. So I told her to stop looking so miserable and downtrodden, since it wasn’t like we had canceled whatever the hell it was.

“What do you want me to do? Pretend to be happy?! Put on a fake smile?!”

“No,” I tell the little goddess. “I’m just asking you not to so loudly and clearly advertise how much you don’t like one of our decisions, especially when you’re still going to get to do what you want soon.”

“I feel like you aren’t letting me express myself!”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t want fake smiles. It’s just that I also don’t want overblown, dramatic sad faces so that you can try to guilt us into doing what you want or make us feel awful for having to change plans.”

She remained unconvinced.

Then, just the other day, she asked that I remove some care tags from inside one of her shirts, because they were bothering her. I did, but pointed out that the washing and drying directions were on those tags, and I hoped I wouldn’t forget these directions and shrink up her shirt so that she couldn’t wear it.

She then tried to convince me she should hold on to the tags so we’d have the instructions. I declined to let her keep trash that would just end up littering her room, and told her that the shirt would probably be fine.

Massive poopy face, broadcasting her grief so much that I could feel it even when I wasn’t looking at her.

“Look,” I told her, “cut that out. It’s a shirt. You’ve had lots of shirts. You’ll outgrow it soon enough anyway. There are other cute shirts in the world. Stop looking so miserable.”

“I feel like this is the other night when you and mommy wouldn’t let me express myself!”

“You’re welcome to express yourself, as long as you don’t overdo it. What I’m bothered by is the way you obsess about things that aren’t that big a deal and act like it’s the end of the world. I don’t like that you get sad over things that haven’t even happened yet and probably won’t. I don’t want you to be finding ways to make yourself sad or upset when the world will hand you so many better reasons to feel that way already. Express, yes. Obsess, no.”

Again, her steely-eyed, Samuel L. Jackson-style glare told me that I’m going to be in for a long, bumpy ride even before puberty hits.

Hold me. I’m scared.

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