Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Epic Battle: Mommy vs. Toddler

Every parent in the world has to choose their battles. I am no different. Life with a toddler can be war. Everyday Lady Baby and I argue over who is in charge, who gets to make the rules, and who is the parent. Nine times out of ten we disagree. What I am interested in is how parents choose what their fights are going to be. Everyone chooses to let some things go when dealing with a two year old. If they didn't then parents would be filling every room in every psychiatric hospital and there would be no room for any one else. Ever. 

I choose to not get upset over Her Highness's eating. Have you ever tried to force food into a person's mouth? It is basically impossible. Especially once they are set on not opening it. Sort of like trying to open a bear trap and shove a piece of broccoli in. Even if you can pry it open, it will snap shut with your finger in there. So I let it go. I choose to not worry about what she is, or is not, eating. Right now she refuses every vegetable and most fruits. She won't touch a piece of meat unless it is a turkeydog (stop judging me). What she does enjoy is a good carb load. She can eat as much pasta as I can. For reals. A whole plate. So I know she does have the ability to eat as much as she wants. Key word here is wants. This is just an example of a pre-meal convo.
Me: Are you hungry?
Her Highness: I fine.
Me: Would you like a cereal bar?
Her Highness: I fine.
Me: Would you like a smoothie?
Her Highness: Ummmmm. No.
Me: Would you like some grapes?
Her Highness: Hmmmmm. How 'bout cookies?
Me: Ummmmm. No. How about a yogurt.
Her Highness: I fine. How bout a smoothie?
Me: I asked you that about 74 choices ago (this type of conversation makes me exaggerate). OK. Smoothie.
Then I unscrew the cap, hand her the smoothie and the cap (because for some reason one must hold the cap at all times while consuming smoothie) and one of two things happens. She either sucks the whole thing down in approximately 7 seconds or she takes one sip, and says "NO" and hands it back to me. Then my head explodes.

I find it very difficult when I am pushed to the edge of sanity and all things reasonable to not get mad at EVERYTHING. When I am to that point, I have go to the zen-mommy spot in my brain. It is very small to be used so often. I take a few hundred deep breathes and remind myself that she is only two. Too small for a straight jacket and too big for a dog kennel. I remind myself that this time is fleeting and soon she will want to argue about the strength of the euro vs the dollar and which is Shakespeare's best sonnet (she is going to very well rounded, obvs).

In the interest of sanity, I focus my efforts on trying to get Lady Baby to act like a decent human being. The way I see it, I can attempt to force feed her all the vegetables in the world, but that is not going to make her a good person. I can let her cry in her crib in the middle of the night, but that is not going to teach her how to listen. I can make her wear the jeans that she hates, but that is not going to help her appreciate others. Instead of worrying over that stuff, I am trying to teach her how to be a good person. My instincts tell me that if I continue to offer her things that are new and different to eat, she will eventually try something. My gut says that when she wakes up in the middle of the night, it is for a reason. Maybe she is constipated, maybe she needs a little extra love. As much as I don't want to be awake in the wee hours, I know it is not forever and I can tough out a few nights here and there. (I may have a different story if you catch me on a day that I have been up since 3am.) I was so worried as brand new mother that I would create bad habits. These days, I am more worried about creating a person that is good, and fair, and smart. I will give her choices for dinner, but I will not tolerate bad manners. I will let her wear what she wants, as long as it fits and is weather appropriate. She can either ride in the cart or walk, but she cannot run through the store screaming. Life is full of choices and I want to start teaching her now that if you can act like you are somebody, then you are allowed to make some choices for yourself. If you act like a cougar who was raised by a Tasmanian devil, then you will sit in time out. A lot. 

I know this is not everyone's parenting style, but it works for us. Lady Baby is so strong willed that giving her some control seems to be a good thing. I am still the parent, I still get veto power and final say. What I say goes and I am not afraid to bring the proverbial pain, if necessary. But I do like to give her choices and allow her some freedom. Because we have so very many battles, I am choosing to fight what I feel are the big ones. Otherwise, I would spend every minute of every day telling my child to sit down and be quiet in time out. Trust me, we already spend enough quality time playing out that scenario as it is. Any more and we would never leave the house.


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