Last night over dinner, we were talking about movies we liked. It was no surprise to me that Namine mentioned Frozen. So Jessica asked, “What’s your favorite part in Frozen?” I thought Namine would mention one of the songs. She’s been singing Do You Want To Build A Snowman quite a bit lately, so that’s what I expected to hear. But Namine’s response alarmed me.

My favorite part is where Elsa freezes Anna’s heart.

Jessica and I were both taken aback. Not only was this response totally of left field, it was alarming. Did she understand — I mean truly understand — that it was not only causing hurt but would have ended (if not for the intervention of an act of love) in death? I’m not sure. At first she couldn’t explain to us why it was her favorite part; it just was. But then she said it was because Elsa was powerful.

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I wouldn’t say that Namine is a mean child, nor would I say she has a mean streak. She’s been grappling lately with the dual nature of being more independent yet still having to obey us. I think it seems a contradiction to her; if she’s such a big girl, able to do so much by herself, then she shouldn’t have to do everything we say. (I’ve got news for you, kid. That’s not what “independent” means.)

Namine's attitude toward Elsa's power reminded me of why Namine likes the Incredible Hulk so much -- because he's so strong, so powerful, no one can make him do anything he doesn't want to do.
Namine’s attitude toward Elsa’s power reminded me of why Namine likes the Incredible Hulk so much — because he’s so strong, so powerful, no one can make him do anything he doesn’t want to do.

We — Namine and I — have had a few talks on the matter, and yesterday she seemed to be over the whole “I do what I want” shtick. But then today she started acting out a bit again; she tore the erasers off several of Jessica’s pencils. After talking to her, all I was able to get from her was that she didn’t like erasers on Jessica’s pencils (but they didn’t bother her on her own), and she doesn’t know why.

Namine knows the difference between nice and mean; behaving and misbehaving. When asked, she insists that she wants to be nice, and to do nice things for people. She sees herself as a good girl, and when asked to examine her bad behavior, she will (most of the time) choose to rectify it. She’s not perfect; she can tantrum with the best of them. But there is problematic behavior here, an attitude that alarms me. And it’s familiar.

Namine’s mood swings lately remind me of myself. I am a clinical depressive. I don’t like to talk about it, even with Jessica. I often experience massive, inexplicable mood swings; awful, invasive thoughts are not uncommon on a depressive downswing. Namine wants to be good, I am sure of it. I am also confident that she’s experiencing mood and attitude swings that she can’t explain to herself or to us. I couldn’t when I was younger, and even now, as an adult, it’s still difficult. It’s a rare thing when I can explain even to my wife why I feel the way I feel when I’m depressed. It’s just the way my brain is wired — or miswired, as the case may be.