Daddy & Daughter Demands

My daughter is becoming fiercely independent.  Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life.  Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others.  She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer…  years from now.

Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle.  My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.

I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.”  Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.

Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind.  “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.”  When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help.  One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them.  When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.

I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible.  I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes.  Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes.  I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right…  Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.

Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age?  This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long?  When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it?  (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.)  The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?”  See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.

There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums.  With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.

And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast.  I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow.  Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hi…Ummm…Bye

Language development in a toddler is amazing to hear unfolding.  Each day my daughter, Parker, is repeating new words, able to point to and identify new items, form somewhat recognizable statements, sing to the tune of songs and verbally respond to situations.

She is 20 months old now and growing rapidly in so many ways.  She mimics gestures, uses wild facial expressions and easily communicates humor with everyone willing to interact.  Parker has created some of her own terminology, as many toddlers do, like “baba” represents her pacifier and “wawa” is for water.  “Ye-haw” is what you might hear in response to a sneeze or in place of a clear thank you.  Image

One expression I have heard her using a lot lately has caused me to examine my own language usage – and no, I am not cursing a lot around my daughter.  It has been comical to observe her with her pretend phone conversations.  Anything to a Parker represents a phone – an ipod, calculator, remote control, pad of paper etc.  Over a year ago she pretty much became motivated to crawl when a cell phone was dangled in front of her to reach for.  Let’s just say the allure of a phone is present and she loves pretending to talk on it.

Her baby babble often follows a clear “hi” and at some point she abruptly ends the conversation with a clear “bye.”  Within the last week there have been pauses between the indistinguishable babble for an “Ummm” thought pause.  Now it seems every phone call she takes contains the hi, the bye and several umm’s.

Now I understand I am not the only individual she encounters who may use “umm” to pause and prepare words.  As her primary adult interaction, and the individual she most often listens to and likely observes on the phone – I gather she may have learned this un-word from me.

My daughter is constantly a source of inspiration.  This week she has inspired me to be more mindful of pausing silently rather then filling the space with an “ummm.”

The Master of Disaster

My husband affectionately coined the name Master of Disaster for my daughter.  She, as toddlers typically are, has an extremely healthy level of curiosity and a seemly endless amount of energy to explore.  We did the usual child-proofing measures of putting locks on drawers, the gate at the top of the stairs and plugs in sockets.  While she continued to grow in bravery and independence we quickly learned to clear clutter in her path and try to keep her confined when possible.  Since I have not discovered how to be a hovering mom AND accomplish household tasks this has led to the nickname Master of Disaster.

For example, this morning she sat in her booster chair eating her breakfast while I was in the kitchen.  I take advantage of the moments when she is strapped in and with food to occupy her so that I can clean the kitchen and complete tasks like emptying the dishwasher without an assistance climbing in.       She sat eating in a cheerful mood, talking throughout her meal in her indistinguishable baby garble.  My overly productive morning quickly turned to the realization that my back was turned to her too much when she indicated “All done,” and I saw how she had used most of her yogurt as lotion for her pants.  

Her favorite disaster creating media is water.  She could spend hours in the bathtub, sprinkler, or faucet just playing.  The unfortunate part is that we don’t have all the time int he world to be playing with those things and she sometimes tries to make do with the dog bowl.  I have found her with a measuring cup from the drawer scooping water from the bowl to the floor.  I have scolded her for using her play kitchen set spoons to stir the dog’s water bowl.  And I have noticed a pattern in her intentionally dipping her hands in the dog dish in order to get to play with the water in the faucet since the only rational step after putting hands in the water dish would be to wash hands.

By far the most comical, yet disgusting, Master of Disaster move I have seen yet with the dog’s water bowl happened as most of these incidences started.  I am busy trying to keep up with my household mess and trust she is innocently playing with her things until I realize she has been quiet and independent for too long.

“Parker” I call from the kitchen.  Within seconds she steps into the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen, facing me, hands to her side, silent with a pacifier plugged in and avoiding eye contact.  “Have you been in the water dish Parker?”  I ask.

She loosens from her frozen position and moves past me in the kitchen to the refrigerator magnets.  I can almost see the thought bubble in her head trying to distract me from questioning if she takes position with an approved activity.  I continue to look down at her and recognize her hand is wet, of course she has been entertained by the water bowl.  Crouching down on her level I show her that I noticed.  She finally looks up at me with her big brown I’m sorry don’t I look too sweet to punish eyes.  She resumes use of the pacifier in her mouth and I can tell from the wet escaping with every suck that it too has been submerged in the dog’s water dish.