I’m Sorry, Finch

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Only children are their own special creatures. I want to preface this post by saying that some of my favorite adults in the world are only children, and they are awesome and rank right up there with firemen and superheros. And sometimes when Jane is pulling a stunt worthy of juvenile detention, I think of these superhero only child adult friends and think, “There is hope…”

But back to my precious only child.

Here’s the thing.

Only children, no matter how kind or sweet or funny or well behaved, have a different sense of reality than other kids. They don’t have to share their parents time or attention. Sometimes they don’t understand the concept of “give your brother back his toy” or “no, Mommy is busy with your sister so you’ll have to wait.” And sometimes that translates into a fairly demanding kiddo who isn’t super good at waiting or being ignored.

See that? See how I phrased that? “Fairly demanding kiddo” sounds so much nicer than “Bratty Bratterton.” Political speech writing here I come.

When Jane gets on a roll (because she’s three and that’s what threenagers do), I’ll make her look me in the eye and apologize.

Sometimes this goes awry.

Yesterday she accidentally peed on her shoe, which was understandably distressing. I won’t go into the logistics of it, because how exactly it transpired baffles me. But make no mistake, it did happen. Pee dribbled down onto her favorite sandals. She called out for me. I didn’t run fast enough. My only child was greatly displeased with my lack of speedy attention, and she threw said urine soaked shoe at my head.

And yes, there’s part of me that thinks, “Maybe I shouldn’t write about my daughter peeing on her shoe.”

And then I remember the big, loud, sometimes bawdy family she descends from and I think, “Nah, she can roll with it.”

I wiped the pee from my arm (where the shoe splatted), drew a deep breath, took her little chin, made her make eye contact with me, and said, “Say I’m sorry, Mommy.”

Instead of complying, she averted her eyes to the ceiling and said, “I’m sorry, Finch.”

Finch is a character in one of her favorite cartoons.

Averted eyes = You can’t make me old woman.

Use of the name Finch in place of Mommy = Double you can’t make me old woman.

I won’t lie. Her iron will impressed me. Someday my Jane will either run the prison or be an inmate inside it, and I can respect that. The world is a tough place, and people and situations will eat your lunch if you let them. And as I gazed down at Jane with a combination of frustration and respect, I realized she’s nobody’s punching bag.

However, I still had pee on my arm. And my name isn’t Finch.

There’s no over-arching moral to this story. I didn’t figure out the magical code combination of parenting an only child. But I did realize that maybe she needs to learn to wait a little longer when she wants something. That maybe she doesn’t need to watch the cartoon she wants the moment she wants it.

And maybe when she says jump, instead of asking “how high” I’m going to sit back, put my feet up and say, “Nah, Finch and I are tired.”

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14 Comments

  1. jen says:

    Oh I was hoping you had unlocked that particular parenting level and were sharing your secret!

    Mine is six and this sounds all too familiar. He was an only until he was almost five but I think part of it is personality, since he’s not necessarily any better at waiting now that he has a sibling. I would say it gets better as he has aged too but I think it’s more, you learn how to roll with it, as you are.

    Like

  2. Kerri says:

    Children from the age of 18 months until 5 are terrorists. That’s not a value statement. It’s observable fact. It doesn’t matter if they’re an only child or one of 19.
    You cannot negotiate with terrorists. Not because of some moral stance. Because they DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.
    It gets better. That’s the best I got.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janet says:

    Oh. My. They have no clue the person they are demanding instant gratification from has a life of her own and perhaps a little patience is in order. I’m care for my mother (88 yrs) and she is exactly the same, always has been. Save yourself while you can! LOL!

    Like

  4. Stacy says:

    I have three boys and the pee, well, it’s everywhere. Great day. And I’m not sure their patience is any better with all the sharing that is forced on them. Time will tell. 🙂 Love your new space!

    Like

  5. Sizzle says:

    My nephew is an only child. I see this play out a lot from outside of it. As an Aunt I get to set different boundaries when he’s at my house so I don’t necessarily ask how high when he tells me to jump but I can see how that trap is easy to fall into. I think you (& Finch) have the right idea.

    Like

  6. Alison says:

    I’m an only child and have gotten a lot of surprised “I wouldn’t have guessed!” responses when people find out. I’m also an only of divorced parents, who parted when I was two (stepdad arrived at 6). I’ve thought about it and come to the conclusion that only-children of single parents are a different breed, not without similarities, but with some notable differences too.

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  7. stgilbert says:

    Only child of a single parent family chiming in. Mother of an only child, too. They are a special kind of child, the only ones, giving, nurturing, observant, and impatient!

    Like

  8. Heidi says:

    I have a 9 year old like that. 🙂 He was an only child from 0-7 due to infertility issues. I hate to tell you, but he’s just gotten savvier about that stuff. I’m regularly WELL behind my child in realizing what’s going on. And at some point along the way, people used to consider me smart! lol

    Like

  9. Susan S. says:

    Love the new site!!! Congrats. On another note, as a parent of an 8-year-old spit-fire gal and a 5-year-old rough and tumble boy, I can totally relate to your pee-shoe-story. These are the tales that stand the test of time, and as parents, we can only hope that our children will find them as amusing as we do later in life. You are a very talented storyteller, and I look forward to reading about more of your daily adventures in the weeks and years to come. Cheers!

    Like

  10. Emily G says:

    Hahahaha…..as the mother to a 16 year old daughter who is also an only child, I grinned through this entire post. There is just something rewarding when you find out that you aren’t the only one who has endured something 🙂 Like you, the “terribly twos” weren’t terrible at all……but the 3s sure made up for them! Hang in there Liz-you are doing a great job! Thank you for sharing all the little details with us…….I love them!

    Like

  11. Holly says:

    I love this! It gives me hope LOL. I have a seven-month-old whom I intend to be an only child (famous last words?) that I fear is on this same path. My husband and I were both super strong willed children, and adults, so I fear we are in trouble. You give me hope that I will survive raising my daughter.

    I love the new site!

    Like

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