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May 19, 2003

Stubborn Kid

The picture at right serves two functions. First, for all the people who noted that I looked fairly scowly since I got the new haircut, it is proof that I am still capable of smiling, and not appearing as if I'm 12 hours in to a weekend prison furlough. Second, the picture captures a certain fundamental orneriness inherent in Athena. Also her desire to ham it up for the cameras. But mostly orneriness.

Which generally speaking (and you must never tell her this) I approve of highly. Stubbornness can be overdone, but at the same time I like the idea that my kid, even at a very early age, is confident enough of her own opinions that she's willing to get stompy about it. I don't like it so much when it's bedtime and I have to keep myself from smothering the dear sweet child with a pillow because she won't settle down. But most of the rest of the time it's not so bad.

There's very little doubt that Athena gets a substantial amount of her stubbornness from me, since while my level-headedness and general apathy combine for a mostly-agreeable "whatever" attitude from me on many things, I am rather notoriously stubborn about the things I decide to be stubborn about (I pick my fights carefully these days). But I'm not the only stubborn adult in the family. Krissy's stubborn dynamic is different than mine, a righteous steamroller to my passive-aggressive stalled truck, but it's there.

Be that as it may, last night while watching Athena stubbornly do something (or more to the point, not do something), Krissy commented that she wasn't actually stubborn as a child -- that her stubbornness only really manifested itself as an adult. Well, you know, I found that hard to believe, so I got on the phone with my mother-in-law, who laughed uproariously at the idea of Krissy not being a stubborn kid. She related a story in which the young Krissy, when told to pick up something, would drop her hand until it was about a millimeter away from the surface of the thing she was supposed to pick up, and let it hang there, as if to say, see how close I am to doing what you want? And yet, I'm NOT doing it. Nyah nyah nyah.

Which made me laugh, because that's one of Athena's signature moves, that and its flip-side variation of hovering her hand over something she's been told not to touch, on the reasoning that if she's not touching it, she can't be punished, but she can annoy you by almost-but-not-really touching it. This typically ends badly for her, by the way, since as a four-year old her motor control is not it all it can be, and she inevitably ends up touching the thing by accident. But she keeps at it. Hope spring eternal.

This news from Krissy's childhood made me feel more affection for both my child and my wife, if that's possible. In many respects, physically and mentally, it's pretty obvious that Athena is my kid. She resembles Krissy no less than she resembles me, but those resemblances tend to be more subtle; this is an example of that. But I love finding things about both of them in each other, and I love seeing how what was part of Krissy and what was part of me come together to become wholly and originally something of our daughter's. Stubborn is a family trait, but Athena's variation is a delight to behold.

Except when it's not. But for those times, there's always the pillow. And the smothering.

Posted by john at May 19, 2003 08:58 AM

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Comments

_Jon | May 19, 2003 09:50 AM


Yep, you look 'satiated'.

She looks like a predator caught at an unsuspecting moment when her next victim is about to become victimized.

Maybe 'satiated' comes from the drug injected before the attack is finalized, but the camera caught the 'in-between'.

Maybe this is just one still frame from a high-speed camera documentary of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".


Dude, that artery looks verrry vulnerable. LOL

Tripp | May 19, 2003 09:55 AM

John,
I can understand. I was kind of glad the first word my daughter learned was "No!"

I'm kind of curious where you stand on the nature/nurture thing.

John Scalzi | May 19, 2003 10:33 AM

Tripp asks:

"I'm kind of curious where you stand on the nature/nurture thing."

Well, I think there are elements of both, of course. My older brother, who my mom put up for adoption (it was that whole "16-year-old-mom-in-1965" thing) shares a remarkable number of personality traits the me and my sister, so that says something about nature. But at the same time, how you raise your kids will also have a tremendous impact on how they turn out.

In this particular case, as it relates to stubbornness, Athena has it doubly reinforced, since it's probably genetic in some way, and she's being raised by stubborn people. Hopefully, we'll also teach her there's often a point where stubbornness passes into stupidity and that she should learn to recognize where that point is. We'll have to see.

diddidit | May 19, 2003 10:35 AM

My two-year-old kid is even more laid back than I am, which I didn't think was possible without medical science being involved. As for settling down, at the end of a long, napless day, he'll stand at the bottom of the stairs with tears in his eyes saying "bed bed bed".

I've learned to keep my big mouth shut around other bleary-eyed parents when they describe their bedtime procedures...

did

Brian | May 19, 2003 11:15 AM

Thanx John
I needed that....

My Mr. 4 sounds to be the male version of your Miss 4.

I have strategically placed pillows around the house much in the same way that St. Bernard owners stash slobber rags.

Cause you know those traits can come out at a moments notice with no time to search frantically for the pillow, or the slobber rag....

Brian

Brian | May 19, 2003 09:07 PM

John,

What is up with the ghost lamp behind your head? It looks a bit eerie. I can see through it. Is there really a lamp there in your room? If not maybe it is a week code in the matrix?

Brian

John Scalzi | May 19, 2003 09:53 PM

It's a digital camera thing. I've got this one picture of Athena where you can see right through her hand. It's kind of creepy.

Brian | May 19, 2003 11:08 PM

That is creepy....

RON | May 20, 2003 02:16 AM

You look like my neighbor. No, he's not a bad ass. In fact, he's Arinold Fleischer, who just resigned to pursue among other things, climbing Mt. Baldy. The soldiers, still stationed in Iraq appreciate your hair cut which must have been done as a tribute to them. Anyway, Athena could beat any character in the Matrix.