I was a stubborn child. My way or the highway. You could reason with me, you could distract me, you could bribe me, but get into a straight battle of wills and that was it until I got my way.
One of my abiding memories of early childhood is a battle of wills with my father. He was a stubborn man. You could reason with him, you could distract him, you’d better not even think of bribing him, and get into a straight battle of wills and that was it until he got his way.
So what happens when stubborn child meets stubborn adult: immoveable object meets unstoppable force? Something like this.
My father had decided that my sister and I were going to go with him to a church service. This meant that I would miss my favourite cartoon. Now to put this into context, this was Nigeria in the 1970s. There was about one cartoon on a week. And you only got to watch that if there wasn’t a power cut. I loved this cartoon. I looked forward to it. I counted the days until it was on. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I was told that I was going to a church service instead. I was not amused. I point blank refused to go. There were tears, there was screaming, there was shouting. Objects may even have been thrown around the room. And eventually, my father gave way.
“Not fair” cried my sister. “Why does she get to stay at home when I still have to go?”.
“Enough!” said my father. “In the car with you now!”.
“Yes!” I crowed. “I am victorious!”.
I was euphoric. I had triumphed. I ran upstairs to put on the TV. It didn’t work. It wasn’t plugged in. I couldn’t plug it in because the adaptor was missing. I went around the whole house. There was not a single adaptor in it. My father had removed them, one and all, and taken them with him. I was left with two choices: to scream and sulk and weep and wail; or to enjoy an afternoon at home with my other toys. I chose the former.
Apparently, I’m not getting my own way today either. My foot injury has spoken. It will not heal until I give it six weeks of aggressive rest. No running. No unnecessary walking. No barefoot walking full stop. I have two choices: to scream and sulk and weep and wail; or to make the most of the stuff I can do – the cycling, the swimming, the core work – and return fitter and stronger than ever. I choose the latter.
Or at least I will. Just as soon as I stop screaming.