En route to school this morning my daughter was lamenting that her Dora band-aid fell off and the cut on her finger hurt. I suggested she ask her teacher for a band-aid when we get to school. She then complained that they only have plain band-aids at school. A moment later she said, in singsong, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!”
The inherent contradictions of being a parent with ambitions for my kid, and also being the disciplinarian who frequently says no, came to me all at once. What I felt most keenly, though, was sad for my daughter, and a little indignant.
I figured I risked confusing my four-year-old, but I had to let her know in some small way that accepting whatever you are given is not necessarily the path to fulfillment.
Chiara, it’s sad to me that you’ve said, You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
But my teachers say it to us all the time.
Well, it’s the job of teachers and omas and apas to say that, but it’s your job as a kid to want exactly what you want, to want the best thing you can possibly have, and to cry if you don’t get it. Do you understand? It’s my job to tell you you can’t have some of those things and then, each time, you’ll learn a little bit about what you should cry about not getting and what you can be okay with not getting.
Whether she meant it or not, Chiara said, “OK.” My hunch is if she learned anything it was simply not to repeat that standard teacher’s line.
Our conversation didn’t end there, though.
Now that i’m thinking about it, I said, a plain band-aid is probably not something to get upset about. At least it covers your cut.
And Chiara smiled and said, How about a Princess band-aid? Can I have a box of Sleeping Beauty band-aids?
Um, no. (Yes, I really did say no.)