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My four daughters have turned out wonderfully--well educated, professionally successful, happily married, excellent mothers. I wonder what diagnosis they would earn now. Certainly, I worried at least three of them were bipolar, if not spawns of Satan. Only the youngest was perceived as well-adjusted by our schools. As a foursome, they are  frightening, although pictures would delude you into thinking they are sweet. You would have to go to Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience  to see the evidence.

Names are changed to protest the guilty. Emma  (1973) was the Adventurer; Michelle (1975) was the Strategist (a kind word for Machiavelli) and Scientist; Jane (1978) was the Writer and Critic of the Existential Order of Things; Molly (1982) was the gifted CEO/Human Relations Specialist. Here were some diagnostic indicators. Obviously not all applied to all four daughters.


  They were chronically late. No one could get off to school in the morning without substantial maternal help, usually involving driving. It seems miraculous that Emma got herself up and functioning all around the world, and Molly gets up at 6 to get to her high school history job.
    They never picked up their toys. I have stepped on 20,000 lego pieces in the dark. To this day I cannot walk across a dark room without my toes' going on alert.
     Emma and a friend decorated their bedroom with a mixture of desitin and baby power while their grandpa benignly looked on. She painted her entire body purple when I was on the phone with a frantic  new mother. ready to give up breastfeeding. A sister had to have helped, but none confessed.
    Bedtime was a joke. A friend said you could call our house at any time of the night; someone would be sure to be awake and delighted to talk to you about anything for as long as you needed.
    They told their mommy "I hate you" with not an ounce of guilt or remorse. I tolerated it as long as they could elaborate.When I asked Emma why she was acting like a devil child at age five, she explained "Mommy, I used all my goodness up in school." She now uses her goodness working for world peace and international cooperation. At Columbia's School of International Affairs she specialized in transitional justice--what happens after the dictator is topped,the civil war ends, genocide stops.For several years what she wanted for Christmas were books on genocide.
    Jane, the Writer absolutely refused to do the assigned kindergarten homework, writing sentences using a list of words. "Writers use their own words." The teacher had no answer and conceded the battle. We had called her Katie as a baby and toddler. At 20 months she nailed us: "It makes me sad you called me Katie when my name is Katherine." All through Harvard Law School, she made her reputation blogging as Katherine.
   Jane loathed many of her high school teachers and would rant  abut their stupidity most afternoons after school. Her younger sister Molly would just shrug and dismiss  the same teachers as losers. Jane convinced her rigid high school art teacher to allow her to miss class and submit a portfolio. She argued that artists decide what art to make.  "Jane has such integrity," the teacher marveled.
    They almost never lost power battles with their doormat mommy. Emma should have been born with a printout, "You will win exactly five battles with this child. Choose them carefully." I was warned. She repeatedly stuck out her tongue at me on the delivery table.  I did win the important battles, but I only learned their importance by losing the rest. By the time her sisters came along, I was so demoralized that I didn't fight battles that I could easily have won:)
    At various ages the Writer melted down because the pretty blue rental car had vanished; her aunt and uncle didn't have a second child her age; she was not attending a school that closed three years previously; there wasn't enough snow; election day would be a day before her 18th birthday four years from now (her daughter will have the same problem). She was a lovely, sensitive child, eager to please when she wasn't battling the existential order of things. She is now a human rights lawyer and writer, heroically battling the existential order of things. If you google Katherine and torture, she is the first hit. Try googling Katherine and "Obsidian Wings." I can't connect you to her Supreme Court briefs without revealing her name. Befor she was 30, s researched, wrote, and edited much of Jane Mayer's The Dark Side and Joseph Margulies's Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power.
    Michelle, the Strategist, only ran fevers, thereby missing school, on the three school days without the gifted program pullout. I conducted ad hoc home schooling for bored students who could cough convincingly. Although the charges were dismissed, the school reported us for child abuse because we allowed them to miss so much school. The school social worker explained, "They miss so much school and still are  the top students." The always studied and learned productively at home. Once Emma and Michelle stood at our huge blackboard, and in one hour Emma taught Michelle, 2 years younger, all the math she knew.
    Watching her older sister Emma's  confrontations with us, Michelle decided charm was the better strategy. She would precede any request with glowing appreciation. We wanted to succumb to her will. She is now the director of strategic planning for Biogen. When she was 13, she observed my arguing with their dad and observed, "Mom, you need to wear more perfume."
     Just 3, Michelle refused to talk and only whispered when we spent a vacation with my parents, my  brother, and his 3 kids. She had never had to share her grandparents with anyone but Emma. She whispered to my mother, "With my cousins here, when I talk, no one listens. When I whisper, everyone listens." She never slipped up, even if she woke in the middle of the night. In the water, she would only make sounds that weren't words.
    Emma  pulled the hair and dumped sand over the heads of playmates whose mommies would reliably go round the twist. (She has traveled to over 75 countries, and has lived in Niger, Rwanda and Kosovo.) She ended her three-year sand eating on the day our doctor looked her in the eye and said he would recommend all his patients eat sand for their good health. For old-times sake, she would occasionally revert to the diet when babysat by a hysteric mommy. A good friend confessed to me that she thought Emma would be in jail by the time she was 16 because she was so defiant, very unempressed by what people thought. Her perceptive kindergarten teacher observed that "Emma knows my limits and will  go right up to the top of them, but never over. She bosts she never has had to bribe anyone in her world travels.
    At age 2 the Strategist  magic markered $2000 painting. To be fair, artist was able to fix the picture. The same culprit destroyed another family's audiotapes of their kids when babies and toddlers. She could find things that had been lost for months.
    Notice I omitted my baby Molly,  the CEO. The most mature, disguised as the youngest, was perfectly sane from birth and struggled valiantly to contain, organize, and direct her crazy family. This is a lifetime job. All my difficult communications with her sisters and their husbands are best filtered through the CEO. She was the only one who liked school and went willingly.  Molly  idolized Madonna when she was 3. She memorized all Madonna's songs, danced around with her grandma's rosary beads around her neck, proclaiming she was a material girl and wanted to be on TV. If only You Tube had been around then!
    There is much worse I cannot mention because they might be reading this blog.

I questioned my sanity again and again throughout their childhoods. But I am very proud that I could cherish their intelligence, creativity, and individuality and was never tempted to drug their uniqueness, no matter how it disrupted our lives. They insisted they are going to emphasize order more and creativity less with their own kids. I am ecstatic watching my 5 grandchildren outwit their parents.My 3 grandaughters will be in the same school year and presumably will  be unleashed on the world at the same time.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

    by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 06:25:36 AM PDT

  •  That last sentence: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I assume the word "under" is a hold over from the draft and needs to be deleted.  Otherwise, I'm scratching my head.

    Fantastic story.

    "I'm not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions. I'm not interested in debating them. I want to stop them." - Steve Gilliard

    by grog on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 07:05:13 AM PDT

  •  I only had one (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grog, myboo, Catte Nappe, LinSea

    I only had one of these, but she combined many of the characteristics of your four. Some of my friends were sure she was going to wind up maladjusted, and in an institution.

    At 45, she's a Ph.D. board certified biochemist, living and working in Europe, and spending her spare time doing large camera photography (think tripod and black cloth drape over the head) of Roman ruins. When she's not visiting Scotland to dance with the locals, that is. She's smart, successful, outgoing, connected -- everything I could have hoped for. I wonder, sometimes, about the perfectly adjusted kiddies of the above mentioned "friends." What are they doing with all that good adjustment.  

    Hurray for being "different."

    •  Your Daughter Sounds Wonderful (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Renee, MaryinHammondsport

      Some kids find that childhood cramps their wings. Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. My daughter Emma says that in Niger 5 year olds carry around and supervise their baby siblings. I know that Michelle at 7 would have been happy to take over most of her baby sister Molly's care. I watch her with her 1 year old and 3 year old and see the same tender, loving expressions on her face.

      Emma's and Molly's development has been more consistent than that of my two shy, sensitive  middle children who only started to enjoy school and make good friends when they went to Yale.  

      My five brothers and I weren't particularly well adjusted either. We didn't have that many friends and were each other's best friends.  If you are perfect adjusted to child-unfriendly US, you will never be an agent for change.

      Grog, thanks for the correction. Now I have to find it.

      Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

      by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 07:29:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I homeschool my kids, and after lots of years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        watching the way they and their friends have developed I think the same thing. Perfect kids aren't spending their childhoods discovering their passions and power and joy. In my opinion we demand too much conformity of our children.

        Poverty = politics.

        by Renee on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:34:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oppositional Defiant Disorder (4+ / 0-)

    That was the diagnosis for our oldest daughter. She didn't listen to us at all. Was in to everything -- once I had to tie our kitchen chairs to the table to keep her from climbing into the cabinets to explore. When the terrible twos turned into the terrible threes, I enrolled her in a "behavior management" program at the recommendation of her pediatrician. It was a program based on operant conditioning which had absolutely no impact on her, so she basically flunked the program.

    I read everything I could find in search of strategies, and the most important advice I found was that these kids tend to turn out just fine, that the characteristics that make them so difficult to parents make them very successful adults.

    Today my daughter is a well-adjusted professional. She graduated from college with honors, getting a double degree in both statistics and business. She still can be incredibly stubborn, but she is the strongest person I know.

    Loved reading your diary. Tipped and rec'd.

    " a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy." Matt Taibbi

    by Getreal1246 on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 08:00:45 AM PDT

    •  Congratulations to you for making it through. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaryinHammondsport, Getreal1246

      I have found it difficult for the parents who allow our kids to be themselves when it clashes with … I guess I'll call them norms.

      Poverty = politics.

      by Renee on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:38:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Each Daughter Has a Daughter (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I admit I prayed for each pregnant daughter to have a daughter, and my prayers were answered. Two are lucky enough to have sons as well. My reward for making it through is watching their children pose similar problems for them as they did for me. One three year old insists she is a grownup, but "you are just a mommy, not a teacher."

        She announced yesterday morning that she was gettng a nose ring when she was 11. Knowing her, my daughter is lucky she didn't insist on one next week.

        Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

        by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:48:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  When my daughter was two she looked at me (0+ / 0-)

          directly in the eyes and announced, "You are the bus. I am the boss."

          My son used the stern adult voice on my all the way through his toddlerhood.

          I wouldn't trade any of the experiences for anything.

          Poverty = politics.

          by Renee on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 10:14:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Laughing Out Loud (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Renee, well, at least she warned you. My charmer bamboozled us into thinking she was so much easier than her confrontational sister.

             My mother was in and out of the hospital in her last three years. Watching Michelle's iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove approach to doctors and nurses was awe-inspiring.

            I was studying child development when my two older daughters were young, and we had to write lots of papers on children we were working with. I wrote about them, and they love to read what I wrote. Sometimes we all laugh ourselves into breathlessness.

            In my blogger blog I share entries from the trenches of motherhood. I kept journals sporadically. They have to give any new parents hope that we all survived. I too wouldn't trade any of those experiences for anything.

            Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

            by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 10:56:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  She Is the Strongest Person I Know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Your daughter is a very lucky woman. My oldest suffered from oppositional defiant disorder from birth. So did I. From the time of my first confession at age 7 to my last confession at age 18, I  confessed disobedience and talking back to my parents. I couldn't give an accurate count of my sins.

      When my first daughter was born, my brother commented: "Good, you have a daughter to argue with. That will make you very happy." My 5 brothers just went and did their own thing, and my mother was none the wiser. I, like my daughters,was compelled to convince her how I was right and she was wrong.

      Certainly Emma's brave independence has made her  an incredibly resourceful adult. When she was 23 and traveling around the world on business, her boss said, "I am perfectly confident that she can handle anything that comes up anywhere in the world."  At the time she had to tell people, "I am the 16 year old in the lobby." She is the strongest person I know.

      On the delivery table, seconds after birth, I looked into Emma's bright, eager, devouring eyes and thought, "No one told me it was you. I will never be able to keep up with you." Many times she has been the teacher and I the student.

      Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

      by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:44:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I posted in your other diary -- Have you heard of (0+ / 0-)


    It is relatively new thinking about Strep causing brain problems in much the same way that Rheumatic fever causes heart problems.

    Just as Rheumatic fever is not the cause of every heart problem, Strep is not the cause of every brain problem but it is a new way of treatment.  This involves antibiotics as treatment and is still not without danger.  

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 08:43:03 AM PDT

    •  Have I Heard about Pandas? (0+ / 0-)

      I will go read your comment on my other diary. That is very interesting; I hadn't heard of it. Three of them struggle with Strep until we discovered Molly has a healthy carrier. I too struggle with it as a teenager.

      Stop Drugging Children Into Obedience

      by Redstocking on Fri Jul 06, 2012 at 09:51:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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