I keep coming back to this word “nice.” I’m always telling you things like “that’s not nice,” or “nice girls don’t pick their noses,” in an attempt to socialize you into the ever-expanding world you are discovering. I tell you to be nice because I don’t want you to be a bully. I don’t want other kids and adults to avoid you. I don’t want people to judge you.
Honestly. Who am I kidding? Those things can happen. Why do I think I have any sort of control over it?
I was a nice girl. I was a nice teenager. I was nice young adult. Even when I went through (as described in Harold & Kumar) my “post-college rebel bulls***” phase, I was still a nice girl under all the drugs and booze and grime. This nice girl liked to take broken people under her wing. She liked to pretend that she could change them. She thought by letting them walk all over her, she was being a supportive partner. Being nice got her nothing but pain, abandonment and guilt.
So how do I teach you to be nice? Why does that word keep spewing out of my mouth? Can you live by the Golden Rule when your mom doesn’t believe it anymore? I’ve bitterly modified this Karmatic theory into “Be nice to other people, just don’t expect them to be nice to you.”
What kind of advice is that to guide your 3-year-old daughter?
I grew up with my mother’s “I don’t care how the world really is, this is how is SHOULD be, and that’s how I’m going to live it” philosophy. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the self-esteem to pull it off.
Daughter, when you were sad, you used to say, “Mommy you make me cry”. Now you tell me, “Mommy, you killed my feelings.” Your defiant screams have started to cause permanent ringing in my ears. All this “be nice” talk seems to be meaningless to you.
Maybe because its meaningless to me?
I like that you are determined and confident. I like that you are funny and quick to laugh. You are a Gemini: by the time my blood pressure has risen, you have turned off the screams and are hugging me again. You know exactly the moment I’m about to crack, so you switch on the charm; as if your bad behavior never happened. You accusingly tell me I’m “very rude” when you hear something you don’t like.
It’s exhausting. Infuriating. I don’t know how to deal with it, except say those two stupid words.