Having a stubborn kid can be soul crushing. It is mind boggling to stare down at this small person, who is so young, and yet so completely sure about their convictions. I’m not a body language expert, but the arms crossed in front of my son’s chest, with his feet firmly planted on the ground comes in loud and clear, I’m pretty damn sure he isn’t backing down without a fight. The instant recognition of balled up fists of rage are also a clear sign that a storm’s a brewing and I best take cover.
“Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?” I ask him.
He looks me dead in the eye.
“The hard way,” he says, almost daring me to challenge his decision.
And he means it. My son is as stubborn as a fucking ox. Once he has his mind made up about something, that’s it. He will absolutely hold out until he gets what he wants, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Living with him can be exhausting, simply because he has strong opinions about everything and is unyieldingly stubborn.
Here’s the thing: I kind of expected to have a kid with a stubborn streak. His dad is pretty stubborn, and I know what a stubborn jerk I can be. I just hoped he inherited something from me that wouldn’t have me wanting to pull my hair out every day. Sometimes I wish I had a little boy who would do as he was told the first time, not after 10 minutes of arguing back and forth. There can be yelling, crying, and screaming from both of us until either he forgets or I back down and relent. By then, I am completely drained from the entire experience, and left questioning what I can do better.
As a single parent, I’m often overwhelmed by the largeness of how strongly he feels about pretty much everything, and by his willingness to make sure I’m aware he isn’t going to go quietly. I just never get a fucking break. I could be dying, and he’d still be telling me, “no, the Trolls fruit snacks are not the same as the Teen Titans ones,” even though they’re made by the same goddamn company and have the same flavors. With my last breath I would be telling him that they’re the same thing and to just eat whatever is there because hello, can’t you see that I’m dying here?
I can already hear all of you saying that somehow this is my fault. “I tell my kids they’ll do what I say, and they do it.” Well Linda, that’s great for you, but you’re not the one raising my stubborn ass kid; I am. Dealing with a stubborn kid is so much bigger than just “disciplining” them into submission. My son will literally fight me with everything he has to ensure that he wishes are known. We have boundaries and discipline, but this is so much bigger than that.
His stubborn belief in his convictions means there is pretty much nothing he doesn’t have an opinion about. This summer, it was tank tops. We live in Los Angeles, and during a heat wave it can get to be 110 degrees outside. Once he deemed tank tops unwearable, he made it clear that he’d rather sweat to death than wear one. And I knew he was 100 percent serious.
The funny thing is, considering how fucking stubborn he is, he can really read a room when it comes to who he will unleash it on. I asked his teacher how he behaves at school. He may give her lip if he doesn’t want to do something, but he is not obnoxiously stubborn about it. He plays well with his friends, and will be open to how they want to play (a relief since I was such a stubborn kid with my peers.)
His stubbornness is one of the most draining parts of my day. Once he gets an idea in his mind, it has to work, or he is just in a state of total chaos emotionally. When he’s playing, things have to be exactly how he pictures it in his mind; even the slightest deviation from his vision can turn him into a total pile of tears. The constant meltdowns when things don’t work out (because sometimes toys just don’t move the way we want them to) make me literally want to lock myself in the bathroom and not come out.
Having a stubborn kid has taught me a lot about how often I can be stretched to my limit before I totally crack. It’s a lot farther than I thought it was, but there are some days when I really wish I could just disappear. I know that one day when he’s older, his stubborn streak will help him accomplish great things, but right now, it’s exhausting, and I want a fucking break.