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Scared: My 8-Year-Old Daughter Gave Me the Look of a 15-Year-Old

addie4I saw that look again on Addie’s face; the one that strikes fear into my very soul. It’s the look that lets me know she’s on the verge of discovering how powerless I really am when it comes to discipline. It’s the look that many teenagers have given their parents, and it’s scary.

Addie doesn’t give us much grief as parents. She does things that drive us crazy like answering the front door when an adult is nowhere nearby, leaving the house without telling us where she’s going, sneaking food into the loft, stuffing wrappers under the couch, and leaving her bike out in the yard. While some of those things drive us crazy and make us worry for her safety, none of them are very serious.

For the most part Addie doesn’t get in trouble very often. I know we’re pretty blessed with how she’s turned out so far. The result has to be more about Addie being the special person she is than any kind of parenting we’ve done. But every once in a while, I wonder if karma or the law of balances is going to reverse all of this good fortune and leave us with a teenager who fights our every move.

The other day Addie hung out at my office after school. She sat in my office and quietly watched a movie and I even forgot she was there at one point. Then we got home and the whole story changed.

Casey had made a gnocchi pasta dish that smelled amazing. It had squash, Parmesan cheese, and nuts mixed in with the gnocchi. Addie usually likes gnocchi and eats so much of it whenever it is made that I can’t have seconds. Because this gnocchi dish looked different than the type Casey usually makes, Addie decided she didn’t like the food well before she ever tried it.

Addie took two bites of the gnocchi and then took her dish over to the sink and asked if she could have something else. If I had done that when I was her age, I’m not sure my mom would have let me live much longer. Casey was furious and she told Addie that if she threw her gnocchi away she couldn’t have anything else. Addie was alright with that punishment. I was not.

I told Addie to take her dish back to the table and start shoveling the stuff into her mouth. I explained to her that sometimes we have to eat things we don’t like and that’s just life. She was not happy.

She tried to sneak her dish back to the sink three or four times and each time I had to order her back to the table and make all kinds of threats involving the loss of Girl Scout Cookies.

By the time the ordeal was over Casey was beyond frustrated. She had had it and I could tell she was on the verge of snapping. I quickly loaded Addie in the car to take her to gymnastics and on our drive there we had a little talk. And that’s when Addie pulled out that look like she knows that ultimately I’m powerless.

It was a look that scared me and makes me worry about Addie’s teenage years.

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