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My First Lesson in Parenthood: Thou Must Confront

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I hate confrontation. And I’m quite envious of those who don’t. If you’re someone who can describe the act of confrontation as “unpleasant yet do-able,” I’ve just added you to the list of people I highly regard. I stand in awe of the people who actually derive pleasure from a knock-down, drag-out argument. This is because I’m someone who’d much rather walk a mile in four-inch heels on a gravelly road in the dead of winter without so much as the paltry warmth of pantyhose than to confront someone head on…. about almost anything.

How do you survive from day to day, you ask? We, the non-confrontational of this world, actually learn survival skills. We learn to do things like make excuses for people’s bad behavior. It’s a little thing we refer to as “having compassion.” It’s easier to let things slide this way. But when things absolutely have to be dealt with, sometimes we turn to our uberconfrontational husbands whom we know will blow a gasket on our behalf when they learn that the Lube ‘n Go just charged us $95 for an oil change.

We also fret. We grumble. We blog about injustice. What can I say, some people are spider phobes. For others, the idea of a fiery hell is the ultimate hell. Others yet are repulsed by people like me. My name is Catherine Dix, and I am a confrontation phobe.

Little did I know back in my single days that having children would force me to wholly change my attitude about confrontation. Forever. Effective immediately. There are a million and one ways to circumvent confrontation when the one you are defending through confrontation is you. But AALLL the tricks of the trade stashed in the depths of your yellow belly lose their efficacy when the person you’re defending is none other than the fruit of your loins and has tears rolling down those rosy cheeks because Mr. Woobie was just yanked from their chubby little hands by the preschool bully.

From the second you walk out of the hospital with your shiny, new angel baby, you’re suddenly faced with things like having to tell your sneezing sister that she can’t come within fifty feet of the germ-free human you just created. Next thing you know, you’re dealing with the next door neighbor’s kid’s parents and how they need to enforce a no-hitting policy if their children are going to have the privilege of playing with angel baby ever again. Then there’s Aunt Louise. And she wants to give your nine-month-old pixie straws and pop rocks and HAIRCUTS! Issues really get complicated once they reach school age… sparring with teachers who thinks it’s okay to tell your child that Santa Claus doesn’t exist (oh yes she did!) and that Harry Potter is evil (don’t even get me started). You blinked. And suddenly confrontation is just as integral to your daily existence as that morning cup of coffee. For the non-confrontational, this is the stuff low-budget horror films are made of. And yet you’re a mother now. Confrontation is here to stay. And everyone, even your own gut, is telling you that you wouldn’t, couldn’t, SHOULDN’T have it any other way.

They’re all right, by the way. I know this. This doesn’t mean that I hate it any less. I hate it like I hate tonsillectomies and passing 18-wheelers on the interstate. I still fret, grumble and grapple with things like how to tell the teenagers across the street that this neighborhood is Rated G. Or how to deal with a certain customer that can’t hold contact with my eyes for all the looking at my chest he’s doing. But a wise fortune cookie once told me that you should always lead by example. And oh, but there are so many to lead in this family. Four, to be exact. Eight set of eyes and ears watching and listening as I’m confronted with decisions to confront or not. It’s this thought that propels me to stand up on a daily basis, put on those four-inch heels, get on the gravelly road in the dead of winter without the paltry warmth of pantyhose. And walk.


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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson September 12, 2007

    As a “confronter,” it ain’t always what it is cracked up to me. Sadly, it is said that the meek will inherit the earth, not the confronters. 🙂

  • comment avatar Heffalump September 12, 2007

    I am not good at in person confrontations, but behind a letter or an email I do great.

  • comment avatar Annie September 13, 2007

    Parenting isn’t for cowards.