The picture at right serves two functions. First, for all the people who noted that I looked fairly scowly since I got the new haircut, it is proof that I am still capable of smiling, and not appearing as if I’m 12 hours in to a weekend prison furlough. Second, the picture captures a certain fundamental orneriness inherent in Athena. Also her desire to ham it up for the cameras. But mostly orneriness.
Which generally speaking (and you must never tell her this) I approve of highly. Stubbornness can be overdone, but at the same time I like the idea that my kid, even at a very early age, is confident enough of her own opinions that she’s willing to get stompy about it. I don’t like it so much when it’s bedtime and I have to keep myself from smothering the dear sweet child with a pillow because she won’t settle down. But most of the rest of the time it’s not so bad.
There’s very little doubt that Athena gets a substantial amount of her stubbornness from me, since while my level-headedness and general apathy combine for a mostly-agreeable “whatever” attitude from me on many things, I am rather notoriously stubborn about the things I decide to be stubborn about (I pick my fights carefully these days). But I’m not the only stubborn adult in the family. Krissy’s stubborn dynamic is different than mine, a righteous steamroller to my passive-aggressive stalled truck, but it’s there.
Be that as it may, last night while watching Athena stubbornly do something (or more to the point, not do something), Krissy commented that she wasn’t actually stubborn as a child — that her stubbornness only really manifested itself as an adult. Well, you know, I found that hard to believe, so I got on the phone with my mother-in-law, who laughed uproariously at the idea of Krissy not being a stubborn kid. She related a story in which the young Krissy, when told to pick up something, would drop her hand until it was about a millimeter away from the surface of the thing she was supposed to pick up, and let it hang there, as if to say, see how close I am to doing what you want? And yet, I’m NOT doing it. Nyah nyah nyah.
Which made me laugh, because that’s one of Athena’s signature moves, that and its flip-side variation of hovering her hand over something she’s been told not to touch, on the reasoning that if she’s not touching it, she can’t be punished, but she can annoy you by almost-but-not-really touching it. This typically ends badly for her, by the way, since as a four-year old her motor control is not it all it can be, and she inevitably ends up touching the thing by accident. But she keeps at it. Hope spring eternal.
This news from Krissy’s childhood made me feel more affection for both my child and my wife, if that’s possible. In many respects, physically and mentally, it’s pretty obvious that Athena is my kid. She resembles Krissy no less than she resembles me, but those resemblances tend to be more subtle; this is an example of that. But I love finding things about both of them in each other, and I love seeing how what was part of Krissy and what was part of me come together to become wholly and originally something of our daughter’s. Stubborn is a family trait, but Athena’s variation is a delight to behold.
Except when it’s not. But for those times, there’s always the pillow. And the smothering.