Lately, Linnea has been getting in trouble at school.
She pushes, or pulls hair, or scratches. I find this troubling, because it’s behavior she learned from watching the other children at school. She doesn’t see this behavior modeled at home. It’s something she learned there–and part of me gets a little annoyed at the teachers for coming down on her for a behavior that she learned while THEY were in charge. Now, realistically and rationally, I know that yes, she learned it there and no, the teachers don’t like that the children do that and yes, they discipline all the children who hit or push or bite or scratch because that sort of behavior can’t be tolerated.
But there’s part of me that wants to point out, “You know, I didn’t GIVE you a pusher/scratcher/hair puller. She became that under YOUR watch. Not mine.” It’s like loaning a new car to someone and finding out they put a ding in your door. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not even worth fussing about, but all the same: your car isn’t as nice anymore.
So, being an inquisitive mother, I asked Teacher Susannah what sort of events were precipitating these outbursts from my generally remarkably laid-back daughter. Turns out, other kids were annoying her–trying to cut in line for the slide, trying to take a toy away before she was done playing with it, or THEY were hitting/pushing/hair pulling/scratching/biting her to begin with. None of the instances of Linnea’s aggression were unprovoked.
And rather than being annoyed, I started to feel stirrings of pride. I LIKE that Linnea doesn’t let herself be pushed around. I LIKE that she fights for what she sees as hers (and right now, that’s freaking everything). I LIKE that she stands up for herself and for her rights, and that when she’s playing by the rules (“Children! Wait your turn in line for the slide!”) and someone decides they are above them she gives them a wallop–they can break the rules on somebody else’s turn. And I like that when somebody attacks her, she doesn’t just sit there and take it, or tell on them. She gets right back in their face and gives it back to ’em, telling them with her actions (and probably verbally as well), “If you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out, azzhole.”
I’ve given birth to this gloriously scrappy young girl, and I couldn’t be prouder. Of course, if she exhibits her aggressive behavior at home we’ll have to say something. She can’t walk around pounding people who do her wrong all her life. It’s just not socially acceptable, and there will come a point where regardless of what started the fight, the fact that Linnea finished it physically will not be well looked-upon. I have to show her ways to channel that scrappiness into more appropriate ways to defend herself and others (granted, she hasn’t showed any interest in defending other yet, but she’s two. Give it time.). I love that it’s there. I’m not too terribly concerned about a toddler who fights back the only way she knows how. I just have to make sure that nobody takes that from her.