Pre-pre-teenage rebellion

by doodaddy on October 5, 2009

In tenth grade, I once saw a cool kid wearing a collared shirt over another collared shirt. Although I was — then as now — completely ignorant of the arcane rules that make an outift fashionable, I could at least decode the two-collar thing, so I dressed like that for months. Every day. Until, in fact, the day the next June when that very same cool kid asked me cruelly, "Why are you wearing two shirts?" The micro-fad had passed, and passed me by, and perhaps I’d even helped kill it.


Don’t tell me nuthin’.

I am a copycat as a parent, too, and it works just about as badly.

Fern had a cough for a while that the doctor thought might need antibiotics, so he gave us some liquid that purportedly tastes like cherries. (Why do they flavor medicine in a way that guarantees our bodies will perceive it as poison? I’ve always wondered.) As he wrote out the prescription, I thought to myself (but was too embarrassed to say out loud), "There’s no frikkin’ way she’s going to take this."

Other parents make their kids do unpleasant things. "Take this medicine and you’ll feel better," they’ll say. Or "Sit still while I brush your hair" or "A babysitter is coming by for a few hours."

And all kids complain about being forced to do stuff. You can give logical reasons until your inductions bleed and never convince a three-year old that you’re right.

But most parents do seem able, when all else fails, to force their kids to do the stuff they don’t want to. So I copy what I see these other parents doing, and it works pretty much never.

I cajole. I give logical explanations. I count to 3. I time-out. I express unconditional love. (Fern’s reply to that was "Stop saying that!") I take away privileges. I offer the earning of rewards. All these tactics, stolen from friends and books, have pretty much failed. I’ve even tried to force feed Fern meds, something I’m accomplished at when the subject is a large and toothy wild animal. With Fern, all I get is a lap full of regurgitated Tylenol.

Like everything else I’m vaguely dissatisfied with, Fern’s stubbornness makes me feel both defeated and a little proud. On the one hand, I’m sure that poor baby husbandry landed us here in the land of You’re-Not-The-Boss-Of-Me. If we’d been more (or less) tough, or more (or less) involved, or more (or less) logical, maybe we’d have a kid now who did as we said.

On the other hand, what we’ve got is a kid who really knows what she does and doesn’t want. Someday, she’ll learn (on her own) that medicine makes her feel better and that it hurts less to brush her her hair when it gets brushed regularly. Someday, she’ll realize (on her own) that when her parents suggest a course of action, it’s usually for the best. And though it’s frustrating that she hasn’t quite cottoned onto that yet, I think that’s a little cool, too.

Of course, by the time she clues in, she’ll be a teenager, and the whole thing will start all over.

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in confusion,failure,pride,Stuff You Feel ·

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

LizP October 5, 2009 at 1:46 pm

I don’t know if this will help but Target will flavor your kid’s medicine in something other than cherry. They’ll even mix and match flavors.



doodaddy October 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm

@LizP – Worth a shot, I guess. Will they flavor them like something non-toxic? Medicine always tastes so fakey.

I’m thinking maybe Zinfandel Tylenol here.


Dan October 5, 2009 at 11:37 pm

“Someday, she’ll realize (on her own) that when her parents suggest a course of action, it’s usually for the best.”

You’re kidding right?


doodaddy October 5, 2009 at 11:40 pm

@Dan – OK, let me rephrase — “…for the best, if she ever wants to watch television, have her friends over, eat ice cream, or otherwise experience the little luxuries we her parents have control over…”


E... October 6, 2009 at 6:58 am

This forcing children to do things they really need to is one of my great stumbling blocks, too. Once threatened to throw my son off the deck after I had failed to get him to take Tylenol. Not my best moment. Instead, we all lost out on going to the library that day, and of course everyone suffered (though not as badly, I guess, as if I had thrown him off the deck). Totally get what you mean about being both proud and debilitated by the stubbornness.


doodaddy October 6, 2009 at 7:01 am

@E… – Yeah, you can never threaten anything you’re not prepared to follow through on. It’s like me and the “I’ll melt down your favorite doll” thing.

Nice to know there are other stubborn kids out there. All of Fern’s friends are sweetness and light. Damn them.


LizP October 6, 2009 at 10:36 am


Here’s the URL for Target … …then click Learn More in the upper left of the Pharmacy Flavors window.

They have chocolate … but no zinfandel 😉

What about sitting with her at the computer and having her choose the flavor???


doodaddy October 6, 2009 at 10:39 am

@LizP – Worth a shot, I guess. Or else teaching her to swallow pills…

Thanks for the advice!


Robert October 6, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Our kids like Danimals drinkable yougurt (no HFCS, artificial colors or flavors [they say]), so we found that we could mix the meds in that and they would drink it down without complaint.
Then we found the bubble-gum flavored Children’s Tylenol. We had to hide that stuff less they bypass the cap and just rip the bottle open with their teeth.


doodaddy October 6, 2009 at 12:10 pm

@Robert – Tylenol we’ve managed now — the antibiotics the pediatrician wanted her to have are another story. Might try that yogurt thing, though…


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