I usually enjoy reading James Lileks’ bleat posts. Lileks is clever, funny, insightful, and a truly gifted writer. Even today, the screedy, political, part of his post was wonderful. But this part made me sick:
Gnat was a pill today, but that’s okay. She’s ill. Small cold. The medicine makes her space out, and when it wears off she’s just Miss Peevy 2003. Everything was a battle tonight: sitting in the chair, eating the corn, sampling the beans, saying “may I be excused” before she dismounts from her chair, getting into the bath, getting out of the bath, giving up her Spot (from Rolie Poly Olie, of course) plush doll so he can be dried out, getting into her jammies. I am always the Heavy here. When discipline is required, Daddy is enlisted. Why? I have the deep voice, and I have the will. I am careful to explain why she is being naughty; I always express my understanding of her position, but I am firm: this will not stand. Comply, or at the count of three you’re locked in your room.
It’s a microcosm of international events, really. She tests me: when first I introduce the possibility of consequences, she pretends to agree. But she doesn’t comply. When I make a motion to enforce my decision, she complies – but it’s always a dilatory effort. And this results in Stage Three, where I live up to my word. I hate doing that. I hate taking her up to her room and shutting the door; the cries of “I’ll be good!” or “you’re not my friend any more!” are like picador spears. But it has to be done.
How can anyone who has children be a diplomat? There’s no more instructive example of the basic facts of human nature than the daily life of a three-year old.
I wish he would apply the same critical stance he takes when examining the horrid Islamic treatment of women, for example, to his own horrid conventional attitudes toward parenting. I wish he wasn’t so certain that it’s beyond criticism that he felt comfortable sharing it with the world as unimpeachable wisdom.
His daughter is sick, and yet he proceeds to torture her over eating food and not saying “may I be excused” before she dismounts from her chair!!! What a jerk!
I wish he would take seriously the ideas that make him “hate doing that”, and question the ideas that make him recite “it has to be done”.
I know he thinks he’s doing it for her own good. But he’s wrong and she deserves better.
I was going to add some criticisms of his equating parenting his child to dealing with brutal dictators, but I had trouble imagining a person to whom the horror of that comparison isn’t obvious.
To borrow a concept from the latter section of his post:
He should hope she wins!