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It starts with mean words
You may be surprised to know that the most verbally abusive person in my life is my three-year-old. Or, perhaps, if you are a parent, you are not surprised.
Aside from disclaiming me as her friend whenever she’s resentful of my authority, Ziya also has suddenly begun to articulate, with American Psycho meets Voldemort darkness, all the ways she can think of maiming me.
‘I will hit you on your head with a tree’, she threatens. ‘I will push you and make you fall down and get hurt’, she promises. ‘I will mash up your face’, she swears, channeling The Godfather. At this point, I began to get concerned.
She was always physically assertive, wrestling me in the nights when she wanted to fall asleep breastfeeding and I was pushing her off, flinging both legs and arms like a Tasmanian Devil in infrequent though full-scale two-year-old tantrums, lashing out when she was vex at her dad or me and then having to apologise for hitting.
That’s average, if annoying. What’s terrifying is when her little brain starts to use her expanding vocabulary to imagine and detail infliction of harm and pain to assert dominance, exact revenge or register resistance.
Stone and I never throw words at each other. In 14 years, he’s never insulted or become angry enough to say mean things to me, and vice versa. We don’t put each other down and we don’t put Ziya down.