Monday, July 13, 2009

Parenting, in terms of a wrestling match...

... because parenting a toddler IS a wrestling match, either physically in the grocery store parking lot (been there, done that) or psychologically for control. That may not sound nice, but it's the blunt truth. Toddlers are figuring out their world and their place in it, and finding out just how much grownups can and cannot force them to do against their will. This is why many (not all, but many) go through phases of fighting over everything - saying "No!" to everything, even things they like, just to see what happens - and why toddlers in general are known for being "difficult".
Some of us don't grow out of that. (hand waving). I don't throw tantrums per se, I never did (you can ask my mom!) - but, when I say I'm not doing something, I simply won't do it. And you can't make me. And I keep not doing it long enough for you to get the message. I don't think of myself as being patient, so much as being able to outlast you. I will dig in my heels. I will prepare for a siege. I will wear you down.
This makes me either perfectly or horribly suited to raising a toddler, depending on the situation. There are things which should not be made into battles, such as toilet training - only the toddler can control bodily functions. That, I concede to him. But there are many, many conflicts every day which come down to simply who can outlast whom.
Kittyboy decided at lunch that he was not feeding himself. It was soup, and I often help out a good bit with anything requiring a spoon, as he has not yet comprehended the force of gravity. I don't feed him every bite, he's a big boy and he's learning. And today, the soup being especially chunky and thus easy to handle, I told him he had to practice.
Cue tears. "Mommyyyyyyy..."
"No, you do it. You're a big boy." (see, I'm being positive!)
"Mommyyyyy, uuunnnnhhhh..."
"Nope, I'm not doing it. You do it." (consistency!)
I left the room to get his milk, pondering on the way what the rest of my day was going to look like. He's not going to nap long without lunch, make sure the pantry's locked or he'll be in the crackers... if nothing else, he can sit down again with his bowl of soup when Husband gets home.
Got back and he'd already given up and was feeding himself. And the very, VERY first thought in my mature, maternal mind was "HA! What a light-weight!"
I remember, somewhere between the ages of 3 and 5, sitting an entire afternoon in front of a plate of candied sweet potatoes. I had taken one bite, thought it was absolutely the most disgusting thing I'd ever tasted, and I was not eating any more. Nope. Not happening. And my father being who my father is, I was also not leaving that chair until I had eaten it. I did have a tactical advantage, in that we were at a great-grandmother's house - we had to leave sometime, and of course no one's going to pack up the four-hours-cold sweet potatoes to send home with us. I won.
I remember the rule being that what wasn't eaten at dinner was served for breakfast. I had many dinners become breakfast. I had many then become lunch. I called home this afternoon to ask my mom if they then became dinner again, because I couldn't remember having any meal make it 24 hours, but neither did I remember eating them, and she said no, she usually gave up after lunch. I could go three meals without eating - she couldn't go three meals without seeing me eat something. I won.
If asked to do something I didn't want to, I didn't argue or whine, I just nicely and sweetly didn't do it.
I just thought it funny that the first thought coming to mind at that moment wasn't relief at not having my afternoon dominated by getting him to feed himself lunch, OR pride at what a good big boy he was being. It was, instead, a humorous scoff derived from wrestling/boxing terminology.
I STILL win.

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