28 October 2013, by Dannie Cho
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker became the champion of the Light side of the Force, defeating the evil Emperor Palpatine and redeeming his father, Anakin Skywalker, from the Dark side.
However, as canon goes, Luke would eventually join the Dark side about a decade later. It was part of a plan to get close to the reborn Emperor to defeat him for once and for all, but in embracing the Dark, he nearly sacrificed his soul.
Fast forward 50 years – an older, wiser Luke, faced with the prospect of a planet-ful of Sith emerging to take over the galaxy, deliberately manipulated a young girl (herself a Sith) to cause events that would kill off as many Sith as possible.
The difference in these two actions, though rooted in “wrongness”, was the passion and intent behind it. In the first instance, he allowed his passion to rule his actions. In the second, it was a dispassionate strategy to eliminate as much evil as possible before it caused great harm to the inhabitants of the galaxy.
Does that make sense? Maybe yes, maybe no. But these are the stories that went through my mind, as I recently started to take a more active role in disciplining Coco.
It comes out of a desire to instil some good habits in her, like:
1) Speaking courteously and minding her manners
2) Picking up her toys once she was done with them
3) Being a generally obedient girl
The first objective is not really much of an issue. We constantly remind her to greet her elders, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Sometimes she does need a bit of cajoling to eventually comply, but we are generally happy with her response to us.
The second objective is a little tougher. Our living room always looks like a tornado zone within ten minutes after she gets to her toys and books. She would also go to her ball basket and upend it, covering the floor with multi-coloured bits of plastic spheres. Personally, I have always been of the belief that if she wants to move from one toy to another, she should keep the first toy first. Yi Lin disagrees, so I have moved to the fallback position that all items have to be kept before she leaves the house, or goes to bed.
And this is where the manipulative Luke comes out.
“Coco, keep your toys, or I will throw them away.”
I get ignored.
“Coco, keep your toys, please.”
“Coco, final warning. Please keep your toys, or I will throw them away.”
Then I put on an angry face (even though I am feeling rather calm), march to the kitchen to take out a plastic bag and start tossing her stuff into it.
She starts to cry. Panics that her stuff is going to be thrown away, and starts packing them up.
It’s been working well so far, but the father-in-law has since picked up on this trick, and I think he’s been using it too freely. I need to have a word with him about not waving the big guns about.
The third objective, of getting her to be a generally obedient girl, has been disturbing me though. Of late, she’s gotten really whiny on who she wants to bathe her. While she was previously okay to Yi Lin, me or even my mum-in-law bathing her, now it’s a constant call for “mummy, mummy, mummy!”.
This is especially tough for us in the mornings. Yi Lin needs to prepare for work, while the work-from-home dad can easily just throw on a t-shirt and a pair of berms to send Coco to school. The morning rinse-off, face- and teeth-cleaning job automatically falls to me. But the screaming and crying tantrums start coming out.
Trapped in an enclosed bathroom with a screaming, uncooperative kid, running on a tight schedule, with softly-spoken words being utterly ignored, the impassioned Luke makes an appearance.
I manhandle her into position to remove her clothes. I maintain an iron grip on her to stay in the shower area, immobilising her so that she does not try running out and slipping on the wet floor (yet being very conscious that there is a real possibility of dislocating her arm if she decides to struggle too much, or just go limp and drop her weight on the floor). I yell at her to stop struggling, to stop screaming, to stop crying. I would sometimes direct sprays of water directly into her face and mouth in hopes of causing a surprised silence. At times, I even just “give up” completely and walk out, telling her that she can just bathe herself, dress herself, go to school herself. I won’t care about her any more.
And when the ordeal is finally over, soft words are again spoken, asking her to be a good girl and not cause this ruckus any more. and yet the same thing happens again the next day.
And every single time, I feel like a real shithead for being such a bully.
The Dark side obviously does not work in this case. But then again, neither does the Light side. Yells and threats, patience and calm, all goes down the black hole of screaming insanity.
There must be a way to get past this impasse. What. The. Hell. Would Luke Skywalker do? 🙁