I recently had a clash with my seventeen year old daughter over her grades and behavior; nothing any parent has not gone through. But, I became enraged, and grabbed her by the arms, and slammed her against the wall. Then I raised my fist. Her arms went into a defensive position. She was not fighting back, or backing down.
The shame that followed overwhelmed me, for days.
But, it too made me reflect and remember an almost similar incident with my son when he was about the same age. Though for different reasons, both occasions were the result of a disagreement with me and their standing firm on their beliefs. Translation: dad, this is what I think and I don’t have to change my mind because you say so.
I always taught my daughter about being independent-minded, do what she believed was right, not to yield to pressure, what I myself have believed all my life. That day she only did what I taught her to do. Although now it was me the one she stood against. Dad was no longer the all-knowing god she used to worship, I realized. I have flaws,-she knows now-and she will point them out. And will argue with me if she has to, and will not be intimidated, or back down, even under the threat of harm. She is becoming her own self, strong-willed, growing independent by the minute, slipping away from me just like his brother before her. And I can’t do anything about it.
Her sister is still fourteen and is already showing the same early signs of self-sufficiency she did at that age. However, I’m still daddy, not dad, and continue to be her go-to person when in need. But, going by experience, I know is a matter of time too. She will rebel, challenge me, and hold her ground. I’ll take less important roles in her life and my opinions won’t be sought out as they used to be.
All of them will go.
But one day, possibly during a special celebration dinner, my daughter will call me aside to complain about the difficulty she is having with her daughter. She’ll complain about her hard-headed, tenaciously-determined daughter, who won’t listen to her anymore. And I’ll hug her, kiss her, and say to her: good.
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