Throwdown on First Grade Street

Posted on Oct 25, 2011 at 8:16 AM in Livia, Parenting

Everyone says strong-willed kids make great adults, that their strong wills serve them well in the future. So today, as my child made Livia’s Last Stand prior to walking in the school door, I’m trying to envision what her future will look like. Will there be that After School Special moment on the empty football field where some druggie offers 15 year old Livia a joint and she, in all her strong-willedness, just says no? Will she be a future Condoleeza or Hillary and stand eye-to-eye with a communist general, declaring, again in her strong-willedness, that for the sake of her country she will not back down? Will she, in that future world that fundamentalist Christians like to imagine, declare that she will not denounce her faith in Christ before a judge and jury of her peers? People, one of these scenarios had better play out or else I’m telling you that this strong-willed kid stuff is for the birds!

There are some stinky, dirty, slinky cats that live near Livia’s school. In the beginning of the school year I broke my “no petting cats without collars” rule and let Livia caress and hug and do her Cat Whisperer thing with these felines. I had met their owners and had seen how all the school kids adore the cats and against my better judgment I opened the door to a routine that would eventually torture me.

However, because I am a 33 year old woman and thereby wiser than my child, I started to avoid the sidewalks by the cat house and thus avoided the time required for cat coaxing and cat petting prior to the school day. So guess who forgot to be wise this morning? And guess who made her Last Stand on the corner of the cat house?

Scene: School bell rings, school children enter the building. One adorably-dressed little girl is stubbornly standing on the corner. One woman, looking like she’s rolled out of bed and is wearing the same clothes for three days straight, seeks to regain control.

Bus driver looks on from his perch inside the yellow bus. Para-educators nearby offer small smiles as the duo eventually walks past. Well, the walking is questionable. It is stop-and-go there for awhile; stubborn child demanding to pet cats while haggard mom says no repeatedly. A little arguing takes place. Stubborn child refuses her mother’s hand. Stubborn child eventually has to go to the office for a tardy slip. Mother’s eyes start to do the crazy dance, and the hand-off, an apologetic one to teacher in the classroom door, takes place.

Control. Where was it and who had it?

Though I felt like I lost the battle this morning, I actually won it. No one died on the corner by the cat house. No one yelled, no one pulled, no one cried (though I kind of felt like it after our war of wills was complete). My strong-willed first grader not only did not get to pet the [smelly] cats this morning, she will have to earn the opportunity to do so again.

Oh my friends, parenthood is far more challenging than I ever imagined. It offers up the most ridiculous moments and challenges. I write so I won’t forget these absurd times—and so I can remind Livia to stay strong when she’s dealing with her own strong-willed child someday. We’re going to laugh about this, right? Right?


  1. Mrs. Witt Oct 25, 2011 8:30 AM

    Moral of the story: just get Liv her own smelly cat.

  2. Rebecca Oct 25, 2011 8:43 AM


  3. Karma Larsen Oct 25, 2011 8:47 AM

    You’re writing about it and we’re nodding our heads and laughing, Rebecca–beauty from ashes!

  4. Jen Oct 25, 2011 8:56 AM

    Yes, we are. I can already laugh while still in the midst of it. Sometimes.
    I have noticed the level of my frustrations are exceeded by the level of my love and joy in my strong-willed child(ren).

  5. happygirl Oct 25, 2011 9:15 AM

    Oh the joy of parenthood. I just blogged about my wisdom from further up the road. My boy is 24. I’d love for you to look. :)

  6. Rebecca Oct 25, 2011 9:20 AM

    Ah, happygirl! Thank you for that gem of a post. I think I’ll make some cookies with my girl today. :)

  7. tara Oct 25, 2011 10:00 AM

    right! we totally will ;) oh friend, just know you are not alone, and that many a parent shares in both your frustrations AND joys. :)

  8. Lindsey Oct 25, 2011 10:11 AM

    At the risk of provoking the wrath of the “you don’t have children so you couldn’t possibly understand” crowd, this really made me laugh and reflect on incidents in my childhood of my poor mother having to wrangle her extremely verbose, strong-willed children. On the flipside, I often have my own strong-willedness to contemplate when the thought of “I WILL OUTLAST YOU” enters my mind when I’m dealing with a stubborn child.

    For what it’s worth, I totally agree that strong-willed children make for confident, not-easily-persuaded adults. :)

  9. Kerri Oct 25, 2011 10:18 AM

    As one of the “everyone”s mentioned in the first sentence of this post, I have to chime in. :) I still believe in that strongly, that the things that sometimes drive you nuts in your kid, what you may perceive as being a thorn in your side, may turn out to be very positive attributes in the full-grown adult (strong-willed=resistant to peer pressure). I also believe (and know to be true through experience) that God is also using the trials of parenthood to refine the parent. So even if your kid fails to “refuse the joint” at some point down the line, it doesn’t mean that all of the struggles you had with them up to that point were in vain. God is working in US, the parents, even as he is working in THEM, the children. And it is all working out for good, even amidst the brokenness and frustrations of the day-to-day.
    Now, as happy girl recommends: go forth and make cookies. :)

  10. andy Oct 25, 2011 2:06 PM

    Love it. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. kayla joy Oct 25, 2011 9:05 PM

    My mom used to tell a hilarious story about me – 2 years old- pulling my pigtails out three times in a row (between consecutive spankings that followed said hair-rearranging), refusing to let “pigtails” be the style of the day. I HATED PIGTAILS. And I certainly let my mother know it! She said I finally crumpled on the floor crying after the 4th spanking. Poor momma – she was just doing the ONLY hairstyle she knew how to do!! :)

    Loved your story. Can’t wait to have some of my own to share!

  12. floreksa Oct 27, 2011 11:13 AM

    Oh how I have had those moments with Ally. Lots and lots of those moments. And I keep telling myself that this is a trait I WANT her to have. LOL One day we will see the rewards of these challenging times.

  13. jamie Nov 8, 2011 9:51 PM

    once again, i’m late in reading your posts, but I LOVE THIS. oh my goodness, i love this. yes, parenting is far more difficult and requires much more of me than i ever thought — we will laugh someday! and we will cry, too, wishing the days had gone slower! (can you believe that now? i can’t really…)

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