“Time to go upstairs!” I chirped and directed my daughter towards the stairs leading up to our apartment.
“I don’t want to go upstairs!” She shouted and stomped her two little feet, and hunched her back in the full body pout.
“Well, we need to go upstairs because mommy has to go potty,” I started to explain. Then I stopped myself. Why in the world am I trying to reason with a two year old? Really why am I trying to reason at all? She doesn’t really get a vote right now, we’re going upstairs because that is what we are doing now. The next thought I had was, ‘if I start giving her reasons for everything all the time what in the world am I going to do when she is sixteen and can actually reason back?’
While mommy was taking that potty break Emma dumped the crackers out of her snack container. From my throne I told her to pick them up and she did. She then ran out of the bathroom carrying her snack container. By the time I waddled out into the living room the crackers were back on the floor. I insisted that she put them back in, she stalled, she refused…two time outs, and a potty break later I just put her down for her nap. No books or nothing, just diaper and crib. Twenty minutes of crying later she was quiet. I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere, but I didn’t want to give up because if I can’t get her to pick up crackers when she’s two what is this going to look like when she is sixteen? As I looked at the pile of crackers that were still on the floor I thought I would leave them for her later. An hour later the pile of snack still sat on the carpet, I began to rethink this. Is she too young? Is that just cruel? She definitely didn’t get what she wanted. What would plunking her down again and insisting she pick that up really look like? I have heard horror stories about children getting the same plate of food over and over again until they ate it.
So I picked it up.
I can’t tell you why, it just felt like it was the right thing to do.
Scott and I are somewhere between the kid is the center of the family and kid joins the family and needs to subvert their needs for the good of the family. There are times for both. Children are tiny and don’t understand the world so at times we need to make sure that their needs are met over other’s to ensure that they aren’t going to grow up to be insecure, fearing that no one cares about them. Other times our needs are more important, for example while driving my need to not rear end the person in front of me is more important than her need for juice. So she can wait until we are home.
Now I am not talking about saying ‘because I said so.’ I think to be able to do that I need to go back to the beginning. I don’t think you should break your child’s back with your authority. Authority laid down with a heavy hand leads to rebellion. I need to be here now. With my two year old. She needs to trust me. Trust that I love her. Trust that I will not punish her unjustly. Trust that I have her best interest in mind.
Then I need to trust myself. I need to lay down the fights that we go through, not re-hash them over and over again, wondering if I have done the right thing. Trust that our relationship won’t be broken in half over one altercation. Trust my instincts. Trust that all my hugs and kisses mean something. Trust that I have laid the groundwork in her heart to trust me.