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Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday and a Half

As of last week, Princcess is 18 months old. To me, that seems like another milestone age. I remember when she was a tiny baby (*sniff*), and toddlers seemed so big and scary to me with the potential to hurt my fragile newborn. I now have one of those destructive, opinionated, energetic toddlers. I'm wondering how I'll react when I have another baby. Will I stop perceiving Princess as my baby and start to see her as the older child whom the baby needs protection from? I guess I'll see when I get there, but for the record, "there" will not arrive until I can convince Hubby about having another one.

One of the best parts of Princess being 18 months old is that, just as the child development books predicted (you know, the ones that have all the wisdom in the world to impart to parents about raising their children and are never wrong), she is retesting all the limits we've set for her and pushing them to new extremes. Along with pushing the limits, she's also happily pushing Mommy into insanity.

Princess has never been allowed near my laptop. I had finally trained her not to climb up on the chair at the computer desk last month. Last week, however, I caught her by the computer once again. This time, she wasn't sitting on the chair pecking away at the keyboard and exlaiming joyously whenever she managed to make the laptop "do" something. Instead, she had used the chair as a springboard for climbing onto the desk. When I found her, she was calmly sitting on the closed laptop testing my ballpoint pens on a paystub I hadn't filed yet to see if the ink was dried up. I firmly reprimanded her and left the room to finish putting last month's clean laundry away. When I returned she greeted me with a cheerful grin from atop the computer once more. After the sixth time of repeating this scenario, I resorted to the same measure I had used to keep her from climbing on the chair over a month ago. I turned the chair over on the floor and resigned myself to guests asking me if I knew my computer chair had tipped over.

On Saturday night, it was agreed that, since Hubby and I both had to work early the next morning, Princess would spend the night at his parent's house just down the road from us. I foolishly decided to feed her supper before taking her down to The Farm for the night. Around 6 o'clock, her usual suppertime, I asked Louise if she would like to eat. She enthusiastically started signing "eat" repeatedly (she knows some sign language) and rushed into the kitchen giggling. I seated her in the high chair and began to fill her blue plastic plate with sweet potatoes and ham (two of her favorite foods). As soon as I turned around to put the plate on the high chair tray, chaos broke out. I could practically see the unspoken words floating above Princess's head. "I didn't order that." I assured her that I was far too underpaid to run a restaurant for her benefit, especially since she is a notoriously bad tipper. A screaming tantrum ensued as she attempted to fling her plate and its contents across the kitchen. I rescued it just before it went airborne and, sensing somehow that my hysterical daughter was not going to eat the food I had so lovingly prepared for her (all it really took was a can opener and a microwave, but that's not the point), covered it with plastic wrap and stashed it in the fridge. I calmly removed Princess from the high chair, which was not an easy task as she was now flailing about wildly and screaming at the top of her lungs. We went out to the living room (one of us willingly, the other not so much) where I placed her on the floor away from anything that could hurt her or that she could hurt. Then, picking up a book, I sat on the couch and "ignored" the massive tantrum taking place several feet away from me. When her screams had finally subsided to pitiful sobs, she got up and came over to me. Giving me a big hug, she pointed hopefully to the kitchen and signed "eat" once again. Triumphant that she had given in so easily (in less than an hour), I took her back to the kitchen and warmed up her plate of food. However, it turned out that she too assumed she'd won the battle. This time, when she started shrieking angrily, I bypassed the living room and dumped her unceremoniously in her crib to wait out the tantrum. When all I could hear from her room were sad sniffles and a tiny heartbreaking voice calling, "Mama, Mama." I retrieved my tear-stained daughter from her crib and gave her a big hug and a kiss before cautiously returning to the battle scene-the kitchen. As it turned out, she still wasn't planning to eat the food I gave her. After an hour of screaming, tears, hugs, kisses, and sudden outbursts, it was finally over. I wiped the last of her tears from her cheeks as I spooned ham and sweet potatoes into her wide open mouth. She had worked up quite an appetite in the last hour and when she had finished her supper, I gave her two whole wheat crackers. She clutched the crackers in her hand and requested that I take her out of her high chair so she could go play while she finished her supper. I refused which lead to more tantrums. This time, she relented in half the time. Hubby arrived home from work as Princess was finishing her crackers (at the table!). Taking in her tear-stained cheeks, red drippy nose, and general look of discontent on Princess's face, he naively asked, "Has she been crying?" Up until that point, I had kept my cool and hadn't lost my temper even when I was removing a thrashing Princess from her high chair for the fifth time. It took Hubby exactly 3.8 seconds to learn how stressful the last hour and a half had been for me and Princess, after which he didn't ask any more questions.

Unsolicited Advice:
It can be extremely difficult to hold your ground and not give in when your child is demanding something. It may be easier to give in and stop the tantrum, but in the long run, it'll pay for you to stand strong. If you give in one time to your child, he or she will continue to test you.

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