Davy, by nature is a contrarian. Our bedtime rituals usually go like this,
Me: Hey Davo, lets read Olivia
Davy: No I want to read Thomas
Breakfast time is like this:
Me: Loooook Davy new cereal, I think your going to like it (it was Honey Bunches of Oats)
Davy: (touching it with her tongue) “It’s disgusting”
Me: Maybe you should wear your rain boots today, its gonna rain
Davy: No, I am going to wear my flip-flops
I know this is an age thing, but trust me, she is a child raised by contrary parents. We know a fellow contrarian when we spot one. Even when she plays with her dolls, they are contrary to each other.
It’s just who she is, we have figured out ways to trick her into thinking it was her own idea and ways around her contrary personality. We always tell people that when you first meet her, treat her as a semi-feral cat. Don’t look at her in the eyes and don’t’ come off as too needy. You follow those rules you will be fine.
I realize i have made a giant error when this comes to her Ethiopian identify. It’s really really important to us, that she is proud of who she is and where she comes by. I kind of find ways to work Ethiopia into the conversation all the time. I make us go to every Ethiopian event that is available to us, we buy her books and just generally work it into the conversation. It’s on my mind all the time. It’s really not on her mind that often, and i say that, because she is almost four and spends a lot more time thinking about My Little Pony (which is what she should be thinking about).
This weekend we went to an Ethiopian dance class. It was great class, but it totally freaked her out. Mostly, because she gets super overwhelmed by noise and chaos. It some point they were playing a game and she just burst into tears and ran into my arms. It was too too much for her.
It was at the class that I had a kind of epiphany. I realized that I was doing to her, what my dad did to me regarding my Judaism. He took it as a personal affront that I was never that interested in it. I still think he feels that he failed on some level because my brother and I aren’t’ very religious. It was literally shoved down my throat from an early age, and because of my contrary nature, I rebelled. If I am not careful, Davy will do the same.
I need to do a better job listening to my child and honoring her nature. I will still introduce Africa and Ethiopia into her life, but be more neutral about it. Let her come to it in her own time. Last week I bought her three books, Harry the Dirty Dog, This is Ethiopia and another one about monsters. I kept saying “lets read the Ethiopia one first” which, because she is contrary,she didn’t want to do. We read Harry a million times. I think if I just presented her the three books with out any value judgement, she would have eventually picked up the Ethiopia book. Also she hasn’t even gotten to the monster one yet, which is fine. I need to treat the Ethiopia book like the monster book, zero pressure. More neutral in attitude. Not expecting anything from her also separating her version of her African identity from what I feel like she should be experiencing.
Because we all know Davy Beach will get to it, in her own time, on her own terms. After all that is who she is.