25 January 2009

“Mrs. Tulliver was what is called a good-tempered person – never cried when she was a baby on any slighter ground than hunger and pins, and from the cradle upwards had been healthy, fair, plump, and dull-witted, in short, the flower of her family for beauty and amiability. But milk and mildness are not the best things for keeping, and when they turn only a little sour they may disagree with young stomachs seriously. I have often wondered whether those early Madonnas of Raphael, with the blond faces and somewhat stupid expression, kept their placidity undisturbed when their strong-limbed strong-willed boys got a little too old to do without clothing. I think they must have been given to feeble remonstrance, getting more and more peevish as it became more and more ineffectual.”

-George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, Chapter 2, pg 62 in the 1979 Penguin edition.

This is the peril of the parent (moi) who has always gotten by by getting along. Your kids don’t care whether you’re amiable (although they do want you to be kind). The result is a parent whose remonstrances are feeble and who can’t understand why Johnny won’t try to get along himself. Growing increasingly frustrated with the ineffectualness of their corrections, they become frustrated and (great word!) peevish.

Peevish. Don’t let that be my epitaph.

(See also, Teaching, frustrations with)

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