Friday, February 8, 2008

Power Tripping

Admittedly, there are many aspects of Maya’s life I cannot control. I cannot (and should not) force her to sleep, to eat, or to use the potty. These are all things I’m teaching her to do.

However, my power over other parts of her life is absolute.

This week, as we traveled to play group, to the Eagles Nest, and even simply to the supermarket in an effort to stave off cabin fever, NPR’s election analysis inspired a new game:

“What’s that guy talking about mommy?” she asked so sincerely.

“The lady that is going to be our president,” I answered in a happy tone.

“Oh, I like the lady. She should be the boss.” She concluded. Does this sound like something she came up with on her own? Probably not.

Then later. “Is that guy talking about the boss-lady?” She asked.

“No honey, he’s talking about a guy named McCain. He wants to be president instead,” I said with a dark, someone’s-about-to-get-a-timeout tone.

“Oh, I don’t like McCain. He’s stinky.” She said darkly. Stinky is her nearly universal adjective to describe something horrible.

If I had overheard these little conversations between a different parent and child, touting the reverse political sentiment, I probably would have been horrified and self-righteous. “I am teaching my child independent thinking,” I would say snobbishly in my own head “kids aren’t billboards…” blah, blah, blah.

But this is my daughter, parroting my views in such adorable toddler-ese. I can’t help but love it, and of course, encourage her to repeat it to everyone we know!

The obvious problem with power tripping as a parent, is that it always comes back to bite you. Within a week, I’m guessing that she’ll reverse her position on these two candidates for "boss" simply to test my reaction. If I correct her at all, she will be so pleased with herself that she will be a McCain supporter for life. Just another young, attractive, female republican ignoring the ongoing misogynistic values intrinsic in the party and congratulating herself on refusing to be her mother’s puppet.

So I forced myself to shut down the computer before I could complete my purchase of a Hilary onesie for Elliot and a Hill-Raisers t-shirt for Maya (oh but if she wins the primary can I resist!?). Of course she’ll pick up on my views anyway, listening to Joe and I loudly rant about the crazy state of the world over dinner, maybe someday volunteering with us around the metro, but that’s different. Forcing her to eat peas will make her hate them. Teaching her how to grow them in our garden, how to clean them, how to cook them, and then offering them without a word positive or otherwise, will inspire her to enjoy them.

She’ll learn her values the way I learned mine. Not with lectures, but by example.

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