Have you ever seen two mountain goats on the same rock? One has claimed that territory for themselves and along comes another with the same idea. Next thing you know, the goats are butting heads. Real head to head, horns locked, no holds bard stubborn action. That is what having a strong-willed daughter feels like. Mom and daughter become two stubborn goats, occupying the same space, neither one willing to give up or give in to the other.
Now, toss in a mandatory shelter-in-place order and that head-strong goat morphs into a full-grown charging bull. My daughter is the bull. Strong-willed. Stubborn. Undeterred. And I, her mother who loves her more than life, have become her matador. With a great respect for the bull, I inadvertently manage to wave the red flags before her, spurring on her temper. I spend my time drawing her attention all the while trying to avoid impalement by her pointed temper.
Our family is currently safely at home in 2,400 square feet. Many would think that is plenty of room for four people to remain relatively sane while the world battles the pandemic. On a typical day, this is indeed plenty of room for my family to function while not driving each other to within inches of their sanity. Then, there are those days. Those days where my ten-year-old daughter decides she has to fit no less than a million words in the fourteen-hour span between waking and sleep. Those days where her ponytail just won’t come out right thereby ruining her entire day. Those days where her brother, a sometimes purposefully annoying fifteen-year-old, will do everything imaginable to irritate her. It is those days that 2,400 square feet might as well be 400 square feet.
As the mom of a spirited pre-teen girl, I find myself facing each day with a curiosity befitting most scientist. I never know exactly which side of my little girl I will be graced with each morning I flip on the light. I find myself cautiously approaching, as one approaches a freshly released bull, as she enjoys her morning protein shake on the couch. I’m gauging the brightness of her eyes, tone of voice, body position, before launching into the plan for the day. I’ve pulled the red cape from behind my back. I give it a gentle flick as I go over what I’d like her to accomplish after breakfast. Typically, it is relatively simply tasks like make her bed, put on real clothes, brush her teeth and brush the crazy cacophony of bed hair atop her head. Then, I wait. Will she charge?
I sigh in relief when she smiles and happily agrees, but I know we’ve only just begun. Like any child with the attention span of a gnat, I find myself gently reminding her that her bed looks like she fought wolves in it all night and still needs to be made. The red cape is flying again, and she often edges toward it. I barely miss the horns as her bed is hastily made and she makes her way into her classroom, more cheerfully know as our dining room, for the day’s lessons. While schooling at home as not evoked many strong emotions, the social butterfly within her is going through withdrawals from lack of human contact outside our family. The red cape is waved again as I remind her to look at each class carefully and to read all of the directions. Her cute little nostrils flair and I see that look spring into her eyes.
“Moooom, I know what to do,” leaves her lips in a high annoyed whine and I quickly leave before she escalates. I’ve dodged the horns again. Whew! I keep a close ear out as I go about my mom duties. I’m not the only one with a red flag out now. School work and frustrations that accompany it wave red flags like banners on Chinese New Year. It only takes one to set her off. And watch out when it does. That charging bull gets a hold of one red cape and suddenly all she sees is red.