Now that my daughter is what we call a toddler, having moved from the so-called baby stage so quickly that I swear it happened over night, we have run up against the period of time designated as "The Terrible Twos" which for convenience sake we'll shorten to the TTs. Wait a second, the kid's only 16 months old! Surely she hasn't hit her TTs yet....so what's my excuse for the recent bursts of emotions ranging from frustrated to sad to mad? Ummmm, guess I don't have one. In the last week or two our little walker has discovered something....something called willpower. Something that I thought was oh so cute and amazing when she wouldn't give up, when she refused to take no for an answer, has turned around and bitten me in the behind.
After all, this Marin Mama was planning on raising a power daughter, someone who will take on the world, all the while rockin' her 5 inch stilettos. It never occurred to me that my power daughter and I would begin having a power struggle at such a tender age. Thank goodness I'm attempting to be objective in raising my child, and thank goodness my husband approaches child rearing in the same manner. We believe in rules and respect but we can be lax about bedtimes and snacks in between meals. She seems to do well with Dad but lately she's been difficult with me and I've had to thumb my way through my favorite child-rearing book to get some ideas as to why this might be. After a couple of days I think I might have found some answers.
I am a very laughable person. I have a cheery disposition and being firm and serious is not of my nature. That being said, having to discipline is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I'm having to push aside all my own emotions when dealing with a breakdown. Even though sometimes I want to laugh because her little fit is so cute, I simply cannot. I have to be serious, consistent and firm. Is it possible that she knows this? It feels like this could be the truth because she has begun to test my limits, test my patience, test the very thing she's using to cement her position, willpower.
Looking at this behavior from my daughter's point of view might be more productive. She sees something, she wants it, simple fact. She doesn't yet understand about waiting, sharing is a new idea as well. It's up to me to teach her that she can't always have something right this very minute, now, now, now!! She doesn't understand that chewing on that pen cap haphazardly isn't safe, in fact, it's a total choking hazard. Parents sometimes want their children to imagine them as a friend that they can forget their #1 job isn't to be a friend, it's to be a parent, someone to put the smack down, to have the answers, to make the rules. Being a friend is important, no doubt, but it comes second in the order of what is necessary to create respectful, happy children. At least, it is in my opinion, and I know how many different opinions are out there. My daughter will never look at me as only her friend, I am her mother. As much as I'm going to want to bond and giggle and share my favorite girlie things with her, there has to be a line I remember to toe. She has to respect and like me in order for this thing called parenthood to work. I can only hope as she grows I'll be able to do the dance between friend and parent, having a blast and earning respect at the same time.