2.21.2013

Nature v. Nurture? Nature, Most Certainly

What do you get when you cross a Team Guy Polack with a Mick-Kraut Southerner?

Exhibit A:
When I met my husband, it never occurred to me that many of the characteristics that attracted me to him would be traits that, when they manifested themselves in our offspring, would drive me completely insane.

For one thing, my husband is incredibly willful. When he puts his mind to accomplish something, he will not quit until the task is complete. I'm sure his tenacity was instrumental in completing BUD/s, which I applaud him for. It has, however, also been instrumental in the nearly daily stand offs I have with our 2 1/2 year old when he decides to flat out refuse a directive. It's not uncommon for the child to furrow his brow, in exactly the same manner as his father, set his jaw, and dare me with his eyes to try and make him.

Yesterday, a simple request to put on his shoes resulted in a high pitched shriek and right jab (both originating from him, not me). Because we are trying the "choices" disciplinary method in our house, he was given the choice of apologizing for assaulting me or going to his room. He chose his room.

What did I think would happen? I figured if I gave him about three minutes, I could go in there and give him the choice again, and this time he'd just say, "Sorry, Mama," so we could leave for the frickin' mall. I'm beginning to learn, when it comes to our little man, making a prediction is futile.

I approached him and offered the choices. He sat on the edge of his bed, quite calm, and looked out the window. He completely refused to acknowledge me, even when I knelt down in front of him and firmly (ok, at a yell) repeated his choices. I felt not a little like an idiot, on my knees screaming repeatedly "Do you want to say sorry or stay in here?" at a 38 pound stoic.

Because the longer he ignored me, the stronger the urge to solve the problem physically became, I told him that if he wouldn't pick, I'd pick for him: he'd stay in his room. Resolutely, I strode across the room to the door, which I shut firmly behind me. Generally, he hates having his door shut, and when I detected the scamper of little feet approaching, I assumed he was giving in. A smirk of triumph was spreading across my face when I heard the "click" of his door being locked - from the inside.

He knows he's not allowed to lock his door. The manipulative little toddler was sending me a message. I could almost hear his inner monologue: My room is not a punishment. You're not even allowed in it. "Fine," I thought. "I'll have to fight fire with fire." I sat on the couch, iPhone at the ready, and found a video of my son. I played it at full volume, which drew him out of his retreat and quickly coaxed an apology from him.

Phew. I managed to win that one, but barely. The kid is not even three and he's as stubborn as, well, his father and I. In fact, he may be as stubborn as the two of us put together, which should probably set some kind of a record. I fear for us in about 12 years.

Everybody warned me marrying a SEAL wouldn't be easy. I guess I figured most of the hard stuff was over when he got out of the Teams. I never thought to consider the point is who he is, not what he is. The what isn't genetic. The who is. And while I'm sure persistence, calculation, and sometimes even ruthlessness will serve our son well in BUD/s class 300-something, it can make playtime in the sandbox tiring for Mama.

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