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You can tame a stallion, but you can't teach a donkey how to run

“You can tame a stallion, but you can't teach a donkey how to run.” These are the words my uncle used to describe me as a child. He compared me to the stallion, not that donkey. When I was a little girl--I am talking 3-4 years old--I was not exactly the best behaved.

A Defiant Toddler

When my parents bought me my first playpen, they thought they were going to be able to use it as a means of confining me. Yeah, right! I somehow managed to gather all my toys into the corner, climb over them, and jump out. No one was going to keep me in a little box. And I think this was indicator of things to come.

Once, I woke up early while my parents were still sleeping, put on my shoes, and walked out of the house. My parents woke up in a panic looking for me, only to run outside and find me just hanging in my neighbor's garden watching her tend to her flowers. Of course, I got a nice spanking after that, and I got dragged right back into the house. I actually got a lot of nice spankings as a child, but, in my opinion, they never worked. At least not for me, they always made me more aggressive and I always fought back. I mean, in reality, was I really doing anything that bad? I woke up early, was bored, and I was looking for something to do. Is it possible for a child that young to have that type of mindset? I think so. Young children are constantly looking for ways to express their independence; whether that is through speech, freedom of movement, or doing things on their own. When I was constrained, I naturally rebelled, all the time.

Playtime on My Terms

I had a friend over to play at my house, and when her mom said it was time for her to leave, I got sad. I didn't want her to leave. So, I came up with a plan to delay the process. I don't know how my 4 year old brain came up with this, but when no one was looking I grabbed her shoes and hid them. When they finally tried to leave they couldn't find my friend's shoes. So, we continued to play while our parents searched for them. Finally they found the shoes in one of my kitchen sets and realized immediately that it was me. They were not too happy with me. I mean it was wrong what I did, but my intentions were good and, ultimately, I got my way.

My parents weren't even able to find someone to babysit me. One babysitter, in particular, I ended up locking her in the basement and proceeding to paint her shoes. I don't know if I ended up opening the door or she was there until my parent's got home. But, my point is I was 4 years old and I locked my babysitter up. It seems from a young age I didn't like being told what to do. And I somehow always came up with a solution to this problem.

Sitting in Silence

One time I was in church waiting to get communion and I randomly pushed the kid standing in front of me. And the kid's father did not take it lightly, and started to go at it with my dad, in church, for having a bad child. I don't know exactly why I did that, but I would imagine having to sit patiently and quietly in church for hours was something I did not take lightly.

Hanging with the boys

You can tell my dad really wanted a boy as his first born. How do I know this? He would bring me everywhere with him to run errands and hang with his friends. Do you think a 3 year old girl wanted to hang out with old men playing cards? I vividly remember him bringing me along to his friend's convenience store where we would stay for hours. All his friends would gather in the back of the place and play cards. He would bring me along. And what did I do? Cause havoc, that's what I would do. We were in a convenience store, so, naturally, I would try to grab any candy or gum that was in front of me; and then get scolded for it. One time I revolted and ran out of the store down the block, almost getting run over by a car, but, thankfully, my dad ran out in time to save me. As a result, instead of being thankful he made it out on time to save me, I got spanked for leaving the store. But, was I really being bad? Maybe disobedient, but, at the same time: what do you expect from a 3 year old girl getting dragged along to watch her dad play cards with his friends? Things didn't stop there. The older men would try to talk to me, and I would kick them. When I see those men now, 26 years later, they ask me if I still kick people. I don't think I had anything against them, I think I just didn't want to hang out with my dad and his friends and watch them play cards, so I got aggressive to send a message.

The Importance of Understanding

Some of my family, including my parents, stigmatized me as being a “bad” kid when I was young. But, as my uncle says, I wasn't bad, just very active. When my uncle would say “you can tame a stallion, but you can’t make a donkey run,” he was implying the stallion is what you want to be. Donkeys have this stigma of being lazy, and if someone is lazy there’s not much you can do with them. Laziness gets you nowhere in this life. Stallions can be extremely aggressive and hyper, but you can tame them, and when you do they become the best. Although at times its hard to be tame, when it's necessary you can tame me. At the same time though, part of me still remains that crazy child that wants to roam, that is curious about her surroundings, that likes to make friends, and that won't be confined to one little box. And I think it's a good thing.

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