We are in the thick of back talk with our kindergartener. Like, whoa. She has an answer for everything and it is so frustrating, I cannot even express it.

Overall, she is a pretty amazing, kind, compassionate, empathetic, patient, generous, and just plain old good girl. But when she is pissed? Look out.

Funny. I can’t imagine where she gets it. See that? It’s me being sarcastic. The bane of my husband’s existence is my sarcasm. It has been an issue between us for several years and while I was initially angry that he wanted to change me (I didn’t even realize that sarcasm was a negative trait. Hand to God.), the anger morphed into fear. I knew how that personality trait developed in me. Straight up defense mechanism beginning in very early childhood. The poor kid with the free lunch ticket, no-name clothes, cockroaches and a parent who frequently ended up in the police report of the local paper? Yikes, right?

The fear was not because of that, though. What scared me was the possibility that maybe – because I’d been this way for as many years as I can remember – maybe I couldn’t change. I tried very hard for a while, but it is so very easy to slip back into that character. To combat that, my husband actually started throwing it right back at me. We were two assholes in love. Happily ever after, right?

Well, not when you have two little parrots just soaking up every single thing you do and say. Every eyeroll. Every mimic, every huff, every dramatic sigh, every dismissal, however joking it may actually be.

Ah, whoops. I know that back talk is a normal developmental milestone and that she’s just learning how to communicate but OMG you guys. I don’t want her to think that THIS IS HOW YOU COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes sarcasm is just funny. I appreciate it so much. I love it. But, I want her to know when and where it’s appropriate (never, but STILL SOMETIMES IT IS.).

My husband has mentioned that maybe she is just trying to make her point. And she will say to me that she isn’t talking back, she’s just talking. Back to me. (I KNOW. If she wasn’t killing me softly, I’d high five her.) I think we have a lot of work to do. And it starts now.

I think we need to sit her down when we’re not in a conflict and explain what kinds of words and tone are acceptable and what’s not. That it is completely okay to be frustrated and disappointed or angry with a situation, but there are ways to deal with it respectfully. And I need to know that sometimes she will lose her shit regardless and understand that. Everyone does.

We need to be firm about the form of discipline we will deliver when she sasses us. And we need to be consistent. We need to show her grace and respect, since we demand it of her.

Perhaps, most importantly, we need to change the way we communicate with each other. And we are. It’s a work in progress, as is everything in life, but we are putting in the work. And showing each other grace and respect. And having tender embraces. (EYE ROLL. SORRY I AM WORKING ON IT.)

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