July 28, 2008


Why did I think that having a 2 year old was so bad? When she was 2, Ladybug was generally cheerful, endlessly articulate, delightful to be around, entertaining and amusing, and seldom disobedient. Oh wait. There was the week where she decided that she was going to climb out of her crib seventeen times during her nap, but that was easily remedied by me standing outside her door, watching her, and disciplining her every time she tried to climb out. And there have been the issues connected with learning to share her parents’ (and grandparents’ attention) with an intruder, otherwise known as her brother. So I guess it hasn’t all been easy. She’s not near perfect, but she’s pretty good. No tantrums, no sleep issues, no major contentions with her brother, no big disobedience battles.

I guess it just wasn’t as easy as when she was one. Or when there WAS just one.

But then again, that’s when I was working full-time and then some, and I saw her in the morning for an hour, and then saw her in the evening for a couple hours, and we did fun things like play, and have bath time, and read stories, and then she was in bed and that was it.

So ok, parenting is hard. Every stage and every age has its delights and its downfalls. And full-time stay-at-home motherhood is difficult. It is constant and unrelenting, really, and maybe that’s the toughest part.

And yes, there are tensions in our house right now that have nothing to do with raising little kids. So maybe I should cut myself, and my kids, some slack.

But the whining.

And the crying over everything. EVERYTHING.

And she’s not over-tired. She’s not hungry. She’s not under or over-stimulated. She’s not anything. She’s just THREE. And she can’t get her doll’s arm in the clothes. Or she can’t keep the blanket over the doll. Or the ball didn’t roll toward HER. Or she didn’t get pushed high enough in the swing. Or she needs a Kleenex. Tears. Instant and copious amounts of tears.

So I thought, hey, I’ve tried correction, I’ve tried discipline, I’ve tried threats, I’ve tried it all – maybe I should give it a last ditch effort and try reasoning with her. So I scooped her up, and went into her bedroom where we snuggled on the bed for a few minutes until she calmed down (and I calmed down too). And then we talked. About when it’s ok to cry, and when it isn’t ok to cry. It’s ok to cry if you’re sad. It’s ok to cry if you’re hurt. It’s ok to cry if you miss someone. It’s ok to cry if you’re scared. But it’s not ok to cry if you’re frustrated. Or if Mama tells you no. Or if you don’t get a Kleenex right away.

Then we practiced. I asked her, “Ladybug, is it ok to cry if you fall off the slide?” and in her cute answer-everything-in-full-sentences way, she said “Why, of course it is.” “What about if I tell you that you may not watch Finding Nemo tonight, is it ok to cry then?” “No, I don’t think it’s ok to cry then.” “Is it ok to cry if you have a sliver?” “Yes, it certainly is ok to cry if I have a sliver.” Et cetera.

I totally know that there are some readers who are thinking “Reason with a 3 year old? Yeah right.” And I agree, it wasn’t my first plan of attack. I don’t think it would work for Wild Thing. (It’s true what the experts say about having to parent each child differently. What a challenge!)

So anyway, we finished our conversation and she picked out some books to read, and after we read them she wanted to play with her kitchen. When I told her that it was time to go to bed, (I love how, at this age, their feelings and thoughts are so transparent on their faces!) her face started to crumple into the telltale teary mask, and then she caught herself, and said to me with a little quaver in her voice, “Oh, I won’t cry about that.”

I was pleased. And so proud. And feeling like the smartest mother in the whole world. I am so totally patting myself on the back now. We’ll probably start over again from square one tomorrow. But she’s in bed now, and I can savor this for the whole night. TWELVE. WHOLE. HOURS. It’s almost enough to keep me from sleeping, just so I can enjoy the feeling… Almost.

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