Living with a 4-year-old is a little like living with a self-entitled celebrity who insists on only white M&Ms in her dressing room, Evian with which to wash her hair and a robe made of tiny, shimmery fibers spun by rare Tahitian worms that are spoon fed a diet of purely organic protozoa.
Except that with my daughter, Belle, the demands are constantly shifting. One week she wants her milk in a metal bottle and the next it must flow only from a plastic sippy cup. On Thursday, raisins might be an acceptable snack, but by Friday, they are yucky and gross and she demands dried cherries and French fries instead.
I once heard a mother say, “I don’t negotiate with terrorists,” in response to her toddler’s expectations. And I’ve tried that tact. I’ve taken a hard line approach wherein I insist on reasonable behavior from my preschooler.
But, you know what I’ve learned? What reasonable means to her is completely different than what reasonable means to me.
There’s the other extreme too. The extreme I like to call, wading-carefully-through-a-pool-of-stinging-jellyfish. Because there are days when I just don’t care to brush up against her the wrong way. When I can’t take another battle over which pair of socks she’s going to wear or what song we’re going to listen to on the radio. So I’ll give in. Yes, you heard me. I’ll give in and let her have whatever she darn well wants simply because I can’t take it anymore.
In fact, I sometimes fall all over myself to avoid a meltdown. “What? I didn’t arrange the pea pods on your plate the way you like? Here, let me fix them!” I’ll cry as I leap over the kitchen counter to appease my second born.
Clearly, neither approach is ideal. It’s really not in my nature to be stern and strict with anyone, and I know that letting my kids walk all over me is a recipe for disaster if I’m hoping to raise considerate, conscientious people.
I am what you call a mixed bag mom, trying not to let my kids get away with too much, but sometimes just handing over whatever the little JLo wants to preserve my sanity.
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