You not the boss of me!” she scowled, tiny forehead pinched, pouty angry face glaring our way.
“Oh, yes I am!”
Where had she gotten that? What made our adorable three year old defiantly stomp her itty bitty foot and say such a thing while pointing angrily at her parents? We exchanged puzzled glances.
“ No! Of course not!”
“Then where did she get it?”
We shrugged helplessly at each other. Where indeed! This was the beginning of many defiant years with a daughter who refused to acknowledge accountability to anyone, until recently that is. She was recently heard saying something about her boss. We snapped our heads around.
“Did you say someone was your boss? Is someone finally the boss of you?”
She laughed and sighed, “Yes. Someone is the boss of me. I have no options left. I have to acknowledge it or lose my job.”
These were words we never thought we’d hear. Even as young as three years old she was determined to be her own boss, to stretch mind and limb for independence.
One day, when Patrick and I were a young married couple, we’d spent a Saturday afternoon setting up our new stereo system. We stood back, listening to the music, admiring our up-dated equipment, a proud improvement from the poor quality stereo of our college days.
She stood between us, our cherished three year old, unruly curls sticking out every which way, as defiant and independent as her mind. She wore tiny denim overalls over a pink t-shirt and pink socks.
“Erin, don’t touch that,” her father warned with a stern shake of his head.
She stepped forward, eyes shifting from him to the black shiny knobs just barely within her reach. They must have been chocolates in her eyes, truffles perhaps.
“Erin, no baby. Don’t touch that,” he told her sternly as she took a step closer and slowly reached her fingers toward the knobs. Her eyes shot up to her father then back to the delicious chocolate knobs on the new stereo her parents had struggled to save for. Did this new equipment smell irresistible to her? Was there something in the packaging that drew her willingly into the line of fire? Was she hypnotized by something only a three year old can be hypnotized by?
She was close now, unable to take her eyes off the knobs she knew were off-limits. Her arm reached out and her fingers grasped the irresistible knob. We begged her to stop, shouting a warning that was more of a plea than an order.
Yet her eyes squinted in stern concentration. She grabbed on tight and turned the knob. The volume shot up to a deafening decibel. Patrick picked her up, marched upstairs and deposited our little angel in her room shutting the door firmly on his way out.
His footsteps were heavy as he marched down the steps and faced me with a look of horror.
“How can she, at three years old, be so defiant? Is this the way it’s going to be with her?”
“It’s not my fault,” I defended myself. “She didn’t get those stubborn genes from me!”
And so it began.
Maybe it wasn’t all about not wanting to be told what to do. Maybe it was a combination of that and getting attention. You know what they say, negative attention is better than no attention, at least to some.
She had been the only child for a mere twenty one months before her brother was born. It’s possible she didn’t get enough baby time of her own before being replaced by another. Maybe sharing our attention with him was one thing, but sharing it with that noisy black box was another and she wasn’t about to stand for it.
Regardless of the reason, it was simply the way it was until…well, it still is. On April 16th she will turn thirty three years old and the day will be celebrated exactly as she wants it to be. That much we know for sure!
Happy Birthday Erin!