My eldest is awesome. She really is. She's funny, clever and loving. The day she was born was one of the best in my life, and I still get the same buzz every time I look at her. I cannot imagine my life without her, I really, really can't.
But my god, she's bloody hard work.
For every day that I could burst with pride, there's a day I'd like to put her in a straitjacket in the corner whilst I drown myself in gin.
It's all my fault. I was determined upon the arrival of said daughter that as she grew up, I would be straight talking and honest with her, and in return would teach her to be honest and open. I wanted her to make her own mind up about things and I didn't want her to grow up arrogantly thinking that everything she does or will ever do is perfect. I didn't want her ever to be afraid of asking questions or to question the world around her. I didn't want her to grow up in a world where she feels that she needs to accept something even if she thinks its wrong, just because someone told her so.
I've created a monster.
I take it all back. I do want her to accept things because I TOLD HER SO. I do want her to keep her mouth shut when people ask her opinion on things. I do wish she would be more fearful of asking questions. WHAT WAS I THINKING???
I bet Emmeline Pankhurst was a pain in the arse as a child.
I bet that when her mother told her it was time to go for the bath, she too faced a million well-reasoned points as to why she didn't need to go in the bath. I bet when she was told to get in to her school uniform, she protested that her uniform was demoralising and that what she really wanted to wear was her tiny suffragettes outfit. I wonder if strangers told her mother "Oh you've got a feisty one there!" (read: why is your daughter such an argumentative little git?). I wonder if her mother's friends reassured her that little Emmeline was 'just strong-willed'?
And I reckon, if she were alive today, she would have told her aunty that no, she wasn't going to wear some pretty ballet shoes when she was the bridesmaid at her wedding, because those shoes are girly and rubbish and she was instead going to wear green Converse. Or wellies.
The latter is just one of the ways my tiny little independent woman has asserted her authority over our household. She argues with everything. No, I mean, everything. You give her something she doesn't want. She argues about it. You give her something she wants. She argues about it. I need to explain myself over every request to her. Only once she is satisfied with my answer will she consider doing it. In addition, even the stuff she does do, I get an answer for. I'm not kidding.
This conversation actually happened recently:
Me: "Darling, don't scoot too close to the road!"
Sprog 1: "Why?"
Me: "Because you might get run over. I want you to be safe."
Sprog 1: "Oh Mummy. Why are you so obsessed with me being safe all the time? You're holding me back in life! It's ridiculous..."
My husband came home from work one night to be told that she had had a "really stressful day", because "Mummy is being completely unreasonable, and expecting [her] to be a SLAVE." I explained that telling her to tidy up her own mess is not slavery, and that maybe she could explain to Daddy why all of her belongings were now on her bedroom floor. Without saying a word to me, she looked at my husband, nodded her head in my direction and said, "You see Daddy. She's been like this all day."
She has so much confidence it's terrifying. She is not afraid to talk to anyone about anything, or question anyone about anything.
I recently gave birth to our youngest daughter. The run up to her birth was far from smooth, and unfortunately I suffered bleeding right up until she was eventually delivered at 35 weeks. You can read about that here if you'd like. More unfortunately, my daughter had to witness this on a few occasions. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm really pleased that doesn't appear to have traumatised her for life. I'm glad that she can talk about it with people without being fearful. I truly am. but I could really have done without her telling the POSTMAN that Mummy had been in hospital because she was bleeding out her bum all over daddy's new car.
Yes, I've been very successful in creating a fearless and totally honest young lady.
The honesty has been a problem. Again, I taught her this. But honesty needs to go only far really, doesn't it? I mean, I don't want her to lie. But... When we go to a restaurant, and the chef comes out and asks how the food was, I wish I didn't have to clench my bum cheeks and lower my head as I hear my daughter tell him, "It was ok, thank you. The gravy and vegetables were good, but the meat was a little bit dry and Daddy's roast potatoes are a bit nicer."
I could go on. I could go on for the next fifty blog entries about the situations my daughter has gotten us into inside six years. Yes, only six years. Two of which she couldn't even talk. I wouldn't be surprised if by time she reaches adulthood I am in an institution.
The big problem is, every time I think I really need to reign her in, she does something to prove why I wanted her to be like it in the first place. In school, the children love her because she will stand up for anyone. If someone has been left out, or is being picked on, she will be the first one to speak out. She doesn't care if she will get in trouble, she will not see anyone overlooked unfairly. She will speak out against children twice her age if they're being mean to her or to anyone else. I'm told by her teacher that when she saw a year six boy steal a ball from one of the other reception children, she went right up to the boy and would not give in until he returned the ball back to its owner: who was crying in the corner of the playground. I love that she is strong enough to do that.
I imagine a young Emmeline Pankhurst's Mum despaired over her tiny daughter's strong-willed determination at everything. I wonder if some days she wondered if she could handle another debate over the simplest of things. I wonder if there were days when she considered trying to get Emmeline to just being so opinionated.
But then, if she hadn't, perhaps we wouldn't have the vote. Perhaps if she had reigned in her daughter then she wouldn't have been one of the most influential women of the last century.
I know her disposition will help my daughter to become a successful adult. I know it will mean that she will stand out from the crowd, and she will be determined to follow things through. I know, without any reasonable doubt, that what makes her a difficult child will make her an amazing, honest and successful adult.
Let's just hope we both survive until then.