This story will not surprise anyone who knows Rollie and me well. Rollie and I? We are just alike in so many ways. We can be a little intense. Focused to the point of obsession about things we enjoy doing. (God forbid you ask us a question while we are reading.) We don’t like to be told what to do. We are brilliant and attractive. (Okay, I just stuck in that last part.) What does this mean?
It means we fight like cats and dogs.
I know it sounds silly that I would argue with a six-year-old, but you haven’t argued until you have argued with Rollie. He really keeps me on my toes. Some days he gets the best of me. Some days he makes me cry. Some days I wonder whether he even loves me.
Last night, though, we got into an argument so absurd that it sent me into a fit of giggles. We were reading a book before bed. One of those Berenstain Bears books from Chick-fil-A. You can say whatever you want about Truett Cathy, but big props to him for not sticking another cheap, crappy plastic toy into the kids’ meals, and instead opting to give kids books. What a novel idea! Get it? Novel? I’ll be here all week, folks.
So, we are sitting on my bed like we do every night. Todd or I will sit in the middle, and Tiller and Rollie sit on either side. We still make a point to read to both of them, even though Rollie can read himself. We figure Tiller needs to get the same amount of reading that Rollie received in his first years. It is surprising how shafted the second child gets sometimes, and the way that the first child will complete tasks, sentences, and answers for the younger one, preventing the younger one from having to learn for themselves. After we read, Rollie will sometimes go into his room and read a chapter book on his own, until we make him turn out his light. (This also is absolutely nothing like me. I swear.) While we are reading with Tiller, though, Rollie will stop us if he doesn’t know a word, and we will define it for him, then continue reading.
So, last night, I was reading along, and came to the word “obstinate.” Rollie stopped me, but instead of asking what it meant, he said, “I already know what obstinate means. It means ‘bossy.’” (It’s always “I already know” with this kid – you can’t tell him anything.)
Me: “That’s great that you know this word, but it actually means ‘stubborn.’”
Rollie: “No, it means, ‘bossy.’ Mrs. Anderson told me so.”
Mrs. Anderson is his teacher, and she is awesome. She is also very smart and I figure that she knows the meaning of obstinate, and Rollie probably just heard her wrong.
Me: “Baby, you are really close to the meaning, but it means ‘stubborn.’”
Rollie: “No, it means ‘bossy’ and I know I am right.”
He got the unshakeable look to his face that he gets. It is a kind of “discussion over, I am not listening to you anymore, finger in my ears, singing loudly” set to his jaw. It kind of scares me. Meanwhile, Tiller is picking up the book that I had set down in my lap and is fingering through it, looking bored with the whole discussion. I realize we might be there all night.
Me: “Okay, well, it means ‘stubborn.’ You just look it up in your dictionary when you get to your room.” (Way to get the last word, Mom, I think to myself.)
Rollie: “I don’t have to look it up, because I know that it means “bossy.””
I am not sure whether the next part is due to my desire to help Rollie learn, or my desire to always be right. Not pretty, but it is probably the latter. I pick up my iPhone and google “obstinate definition.” I click on the Merriam-Webster link that comes up. I show it to Rollie. It reads:
1. Stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action; obdurate.
2. Difficult to manage, control, or subdue; refractory.
3. Difficult to alleviate or cure: an obstinate headache.
Rollie: “Well, that’s wrong. I know it means “bossy.”
Tiller, wailing: “When are we going to finish the book?”
Me: “You’re right Tiller, let’s read.”
I begin to read, thinking about the argument with Rollie, and the fact that it was over the word ‘obstinate,’ and then i get the giggles. I can barely read the words in the book for the giggles, and the kids start giggling too, because how funny is it that Mama can’t stop giggling?
They ask why I am laughing. I tell them, “because it is funny that Mama and Rollie were arguing over whether the word obstinate means bossy or stubborn. Tiller, you can just call Rollie and me Miss Stubborn and Mr. Bossy.”
You can call us that, too. Miss Stubborn and Mr. Bossy.