The Price of (Dis)Obedience

I went back-to-school shopping this week, clutching the checklist we received in the mail, and getting a little teary-eyed. I opted to go without the kids. I pondered over backpack styles and got a plain pink one for Laurel instead of the My Little Pony one that I know she would have begged for if she was there. The teacher asked for kleenex and clorox wipes, so I threw those into my basket as well, and couldn't help but think of November and cold season and how many boogers there must be in a preK classroom at that time of year.

We had a conference today, my first parent-teacher conference as a parent, and it was weird to sit on that side of the little table, folding myself into the miniature chair, looking at a cubby with Laurel's name on it.

She's wild with me. She stomps. Pouts. Screams so loud I wonder what the neighbors think. And then we talk about it, negotiate, explain, repair. Sometimes I apologize, sometimes she does. Mostly we both do, because when two people have an argument, they are usually both at fault.

She is not obedient. I don't raise her to be that way, and I wonder if I had a son first, if it would be different. But I have this daughter, who will grow up to be a woman, and I like her fiery, stompy ways. Her unwillingness to go along with what she believes is unjust. The way that she is sharpening her questioning skills. I worry if I work too hard to make her obedient to me, then she'll fall into that habit with the rest of the world. Perhaps in her teens, she'll have no reason to rebel against me, and will instead use that endless adolescent sense of outrage to protest true injustices of the world.

We have 6 rules in our house.

Be kind.
No yelling.
Take care of our bodies.
Take care of our things.
Help each other.
No hurting other people.

Laurel and I wrote these rules together one day last year talking about how getting along helped everyone to get to do what they want. "Follow directions" was always a rule in my classroom, but it didn't make the cut here, mainly because it seems redundant if you are following all the other rules. I do worry, though, as Laurel heads off to school that she will not follow all the directions, at least without getting a proper explanation from the teacher and that will be annoying to her teacher and her classmates.

So there is a price for disobedience, I suppose. But also a price for obedience. I wonder sometimes when I hang up the phone without getting exactly what I wanted from customer service, or when I fail to negotiate the raise I deserve, or when I see someone intimidated on the street by someone and do nothing...how much of that is from being discouraged from questioning the status quo. I wish, instead of being told to listen, to respect elders, that I "just had to go along with the system" that I had been taught mediation skills and civil disobedience skills and empowerment skills so that every time I saw something stupid or unjust I would do something about it. Every time, I would speak up. Every homophobic or racist or misogynistic comment. Every politician who behaves poorly. Every time my own contributions are belittled and disrespected.

It feels bold just to imagine myself that way, and I can only really write it because this is a blog and I can't see you. But maybe Laurel will have the confidence that I lack. (If she doesn't get kicked out of PreK for it.)


Anonymous said...

So how was Laurels first day of school?

Aunt Laine

k said...

Tomorrow is the big day. (She's nervous)

k said...

Well, first day and she survived. Came home all wet though. That was weird.