Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"I'm a Rule Changer"

When I first got my license, I was told that I was not allowed to cross Harlem, a major road that divided Oak Park from other Chicago suburbs.  I didn't have a problem with this rule mostly because I didn't have much interest in driving west.  However, what my parents neglected to tell me I couldn't do was drive east, as in, on the Eisenhower towards Chicago.  And so, that is what I did.  I am sure I knew that if they didn't want me driving on Harlem, they probably weren't too comfortable with their new driver daughter toodling towards the Sears tower, and they probably assumed that was a given.  This did not register with me, and I don't remember thinking at the time, "This is not something that they would want me to do."  I was too excited to see the city.

I have been thinking about this event in my life in my dealings with Hadley recently.  She is very busy constructing her own world right now, and often it conflicts with what the rest of us are trying to do.  I take it personally, like she's trying to drive me insane on purpose.  But then I think about my accidentally-on-purpose rule breaking when I got my license, and I realize that it's not really a lack of respect or wanting to be bad.  It's simply a kid doing her thing with no regard for anybody else.  I still get mad, but it doesn't make me love Hadley any less.  Just like I know she doesn't love me any less when she chooses not to do whatever it is I want her to do.

It's just hard to keep up with her sometimes. 
For example:
Yesterday afternoon, Hadley and I were playing with puzzles together.  When we got to this puzzle,
Hadley decided that we should take all the pieces and put them in a pile.  Then, whoever gets the most pieces, gets to be the first person to start the puzzle.  I agreed, and started grabbing pieces. 

"No, no, no, Mama.  You just take one piece at a time." 

"OK."  I started to take one piece at a time.  Then Hadley started to take more than one piece, so I said,

"Hey!  What are you doing?  You just told me I can only take one piece!"

"Yes, that is what I said.  But it is easier to do it this way."

"You keep changing the rules on me."  I told her.

"Well, Mama, I'm a rule changer."

Here's another incident that happened recently:

One afternoon Hadley and Harper were fighting about something, and Hadley pushed Harper.  When I went over to see what happened, Hadley told me that Harper had fallen off a chair.  I would've believed her except that Harper was nowhere near a chair.  Also, Harper said, "Hadwee pushed me!"  When I asked Hadley if that was true, Hadley said that it was.  I told Hadley that we don't push people, and we definetely don't lie about it.  Hadley's punishment was that she was not allowed to play computer games that night.

A few hours later, I'm checking my email at the time Hadley is usually playing computer games.  She comes up behind me and says, "Mama?  I have to tell you something."


"When someone asks you to do something that is reeeeally special, you have to let them do it."  She informs me.

"OK." I say.

"I would like to play computer games."

"You're not playing computer games, and you know why."

"I know, Mama.  I know I'm not playing compter games because I pushed Harper and lied about it.  But you're not listening to me.  I'm telling you when someone asks to do something special, then you have to let them do it."

"You're not playing computer games, Hadley."

On and on this went until I said/yelled "I'm the mother!  You're not playing computer games!"

I see what's going on though.  Hadley's interested in testing out what she can do with her life.  She wants to experience things, figure things out for herself.  I understand.  Everytime I see the Chicago skyline I understand.  I think my parents understood, too.  Because when someone wants to do something reeeally special, you have to let them do it.


Katie said...

Good one, Callie. Having the same sorts of issues with Erin. The lying especially gets to me. How do you make a 4-year-old understand about trust and reputation? She cut her pants in preschool the other day and told me "Pablo did it." Yeah right. Ugh.

Valerie said...

You know, Hadley never spoke a statement that was more true. All the rules change when you have kids!

She should have grown up with my sister Emily. They could have changed the rules until they drove each other crazy. As a rule follower, I did not deal well with a rule changer. :)