Meet Mr. Discomfort

Mark down yesterday as the first time my daughter said “I hate you” to me. But both and wife and I were glad she did. True. And I kind of earned it. I’ll explain.

First, my wife is the better parent, as if that needs explaining to anyone reading this blog. She’s up on the parent mags and is loving and caring. I stumble through life and wing it, happy to wake up each morning, which is an instant win in my mind.

And then there is our talented and smart 9 year-old daughter going through a transitional stage and testing the borders of the soon to be teenage years. And though we think our daughter is special, as all parents do of their children, I worry that she lives too comfortable of an existence.

My wife and I are not rich. We both work. Our house is less than 1,900 sq ft, which gives me house envy here in Los Angeles. And as an only child, our daughter gets all of our attention and lives a good life. And though her hardship and defining moment may come at anytime when my lungs fail or I get hit by a moon rock, she leans toward not wanting to break out of her comfort zone, and is a little on the shy side, especially with adults.

That’s where I come in. I’m Mr. Discomfort and my picture should be on a bottle with a really long legal disclaimer, a number for the local poison-control hotline, and the warning: “May cause irritation.” 

It’s my job to shake things up when life stagnates.

I get bothered when my daughter holds her feelings in and doesn’t participate in discussions. So, rather than have the silent young lady at the table sitting it out while life goes by, I push and prod until we have a mild conflict going that leads to emotion and the flexing and testing of communication skills. And most importantly in the end: growth.

So, when the young firecracker’s fuse ran out and she asked us if it was okay to speak exactly what was on her mind, we gave her the green light. We had plenty of burn cream in the kitchen.

And when she said “I really, really hate you right now” I was okay with that. It was a breakthrough of her not holding in her emotions and expressing herself. And more importantly, it resulted in her gaining the confidence to take singing and karate lessons, which is what the conversation was about in the first place – her not trying new things in life and ending up sad about it later as an adult.

When opportunities present themselves, we said, take advantage. Or, the moment may be lost and you’ll regret it.

To my daughter’s credit, she got it. And soon she’ll be kicking the daylights out of a karate bag and singing Lady Gaga songs.

The most touching moment came later that night outside when she asked me if I loved her. Yes, I do love you, I said.

Even though I said I hated you?

Yes, I said. Always. No matter what.

And the night was magical and mile 9 of the marathon continued with me skirting the fine line of “near-disaster” parenting, proving once again, even numskulls get lucky once in awhile.

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12 thoughts on “Meet Mr. Discomfort

  1. I dont think you’re disaterous or irritating…..i parent my girls the same way. Life is not pretty, people are not all fabulous. They need to gain the confidence that they need to succeed at a young age…..it will become habit for them to speak their mind, to try things, to explore life outside of the box and understand the feelings of accomplishment that go along with doing so. I think you’re doing your daughter a great favor. She will too…..one day. much love ~j

    • Juli,

      Good to hear from you. I guess I’m the dark cloud of doom and my wife is the Disney blue sky of hope. I want to prepare my daughter for all of the assholes she will meet in life and give her the skill to take them down. 🙂 She needs to be prepared. Endless tranquility won’t do that. So, my wife and I are a good balance.

      I hope you’re having a great summer.

      UC

  2. I’ve said “I hate you” to my mom exactly one time, ever. I was about six or so, and looked at her and screamed “I HATE YOU!” with a disturbing amount of vitriol. As you no doubt can imagine, I was never the type kid who needed any prodding or encouragement to express myself, ha (though sometimes a little wink and nod to STFU already).

    So anyway, she looked at me and deadpanned, with a very mean face, “I hate you, too!” I was shocked, and was just starting to get really upset when she crouched down and gave me a big hug, and looked me in the eye and said, “when I said I hated you, how did that make you feel?” I responded with some kid version of “it hurt my feelings” or “it made me sad” or whatever. She said, “when you say that to me, or to anyone else, you make them feel the very same way.” Then she gave me a huge hug and reassured me that she did, in fact, love me very much. I think that was one of like, three crazy mind games she played on me, ever, so it was pretty effective and not at all therapy-inducing.

    I have wished people to hell, and called them horrific names, but I have never once said “I hate you” ever since.

    I don’t really know what my point is, now, actually, besides good for your daughter for finding her voice, shaky and unsure though it may be now, and super-kudos to you, dad, for recognizing as much. You and your wife sound like quite the team.

    • Jessica,

      I like it when you share these stories and make them part of the larger record. I’m glad your blow out with your mom didn’t lead to therapy. It’s a touching story. Clearly, you express yourself quite well and could probably coach my daughter.

      I hope you’re doing well. I keep meaning to add your blog back to my blogroll now that you’re writing again.

      UC

    • Josh,

      We’ll see how much I messed her up later in life. I guess we’ll gauge that by the therapy bills.

      Read your blog. Glad to see you back. Have some harsh words for you but I’ll email them to you. 🙂

      UC

  3. My husband calls it “toughening them up”. We sorta push our kids the same way. My daughter has said she hated me many times. It’s usually followed by a slamming door. I think you get father of the year for this being your first time!

    • Stacey,

      He’s right – just a like a piece of cheap steak we have to pound them a bit. We get the slamming doors, too. The FOY award will not be mine, but thanks. Glad you’re doing well.

      UC

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