Friday, April 8, 2011

Choosing Your Battles???

As a mother I battle daily with the struggle between choosing the battles I want/need to fight and sending a clear message about who is in charge.  My husband often adopts the earlier view, remarking "What does it matter if Maisy wants to wear her blueberry stained pajamas all day?"  And, to be honest with you, I don't really care if Maisy tromps off to the library lapsit wearing her hand-me-down princess nightgown with dried oatmeal hanging off Sleeping Beauty's face.   Still, at some point I would like my children to do as I say, because I say it.  Ideally I would like them to get dressed when I ask, finish their meals without prompting, and brush their teeth without tantrums.
Sans demons.
This morning Maisy, who is almost two, wanted a second serving of raisin bran when she saw that I had finished her leftovers (yes, my own breakfast often consists of what is leftover from the kids).  I had no problem pouring her another bowl and placing it at the kiddie table.  Maisy, however, had no intention of sitting at the small table in the corner of the kitchen.  She was determined to eat standing up at the kitchen counter (a bad habit that I have allowed because it makes the clean-up process easier).  With a hint of frustration, I placed the bowl on the counter and scooted over a chair for her to stand.

"No," she cried, "this one."  Maisy pointed to the step-stool that I had already cleaned and put away after the first breakfast.

"Maisy, if you want to eat cereal at the counter, you can stand on this chair."

"No, no, no!" Maisy  stomped her feet searching for something to throw.  She then tried to drag the step-stool out of its storage spot behind the refrigerator.  I tried not to laugh as I watched the tiny toddler try to lift something the size of her own body.

At this point I was just annoyed.  I had said no numerous times, but she was unwavering.  We were in a battle of wills, and I was not about to lose.

I left Maisy alone on the kitchen floor, where she preceded to throw a monumental fit of despair.  Lying on her stomach she kicked her kegs, pounded her hands, and screamed as though I was shoving her lambie down the garbage disposal.  Tears streamed down her chubby little face soaking the neckline of her dress and snot poured from her nose like a running faucet.  I went about tidying up the house, all the while worried that she was waking up the elderly Chinese couple across the street.

Maisy's reaction to the situation was obviously ridiculous, we are talking about standing on a chair versus a step-stool.  However, why not concede to her demands- it would take only three seconds to reclean the stool?  Why should all of us, including Elana who was covering her ears and saying "Maisy is too loud!", have to suffer when a simple surrender could make all the demons go away?

On the other hand, if I concede to this, what will that teach her for the next time I say "no"?

In the end, I let her finish her demonic fit, picked her up, kissed her, and settled on the couch to read a few books.  The cereal was never mentioned again.

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