Lately it feels like the relationship I have with my child has shifted from being her parent to being her butler, minion and even hostage negotiatior. As she continues to develop language and realizes that she can have an impact on her world, she's doing her best to try and put said world under her tiny, adorable, sharp (because she doesn't always let us cut her nails) thumb. She's a tiny sponge that is testing, calculating, pushing and becoming self aware. Jodi doubts me, but I'm fairly certain that Skynet sent her back in time to take us out and allow the machines to rise to dominance over the human race.
Sure there have been plenty of things that have been difficult for us since this all started, but the degree of that difficulty has definitely increased. Getting her to get out the door for daycare in the mornings, for example, oftentimes has us playing 'Let's Make a Deal' to get the job done. To handle the attitude being thrown our way we're learning to offer choices to make things go smoother. Do you want to wear the red shirt or the green one? Black pants or purple? Top hat and monocle, or feathered hair with aviator glasses?
The aforementioned tactic usually works until it's time to leave the house, then we have to negotiate the terms of our departure. For that, it normally looks like one of the following:
"You can bring the toy car, but only if you put your hat on."
"It's cold outside and you have to wear a coat. Let's put that on first, and then you can bring your blanket."
"I understand that you're holding all the people in Nakatomi Tower hostage, that you want all the bearer bonds in the vault and for me to return your detonators so you can stage your escape, but we can't leave the house without putting socks and shoes on."
Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. It might go quickly, where she happily puts everything on and eagerly heads towards the door. Conversely, it could turn into a battle where she's shooting guns in your direction, making you run barefoot across shards of broken glass and jumping out a window while attached to a fire hose. You know, just another day in the life of a parent. Yippee ki-yay.
Olivia's been incredibly demanding and bossy lately as well, to which my wife will probably read this and say, "Lately?." She'll spit out commands like "Day down! (Lay down)," "Watch TV!," "Sit!" and the ever popular "Play Misty for me!" Sometimes she'll even try to use reverse psychology on us, by attempting to convince us that the thing she wants is something we should want too. She might want that ball that's two feet away from her and start with "I want ball." After repeated attempts to prompt us to get said ball (we wait for a "please," which we've been patiently trying to instill) she moves on to the "Mama/Dada ball" phase, normally using a tone that insists, "You want the ball too, right?" If that doesn't work, and she hasn't convinced us, we either prompt her for the "please" or she moves on to the 'Luke trying to free his lightsaber from the ice before the Wampa eats him' phase. So we're left with a lot of grunting, groaning, whining and failing to use the Force until we finally get our "please" or Old Ben's ghost has heard enough and hands her the ball in frustration. You'd think he'd have more patience, what with being a Jedi knight and all, but I guess everyone has their limits.
As usual, the clever girl makes us look like liars when we're around friends and family. She'll act all shy, quiet and be cute as hell when we're out of the house. We recently went to a baby shower for some friends, and she could not have been more well behaved (great problem to have, right?). But we knew it was just an act. That as soon as we left she'd light up a cigar, speak to us in the gravely voice of a seasoned gangster and plot out her next caper.
I sometimes wonder how much of her temper and attitude is just her being a toddler, and how much of it is a reflection of the things she sees and hears in our house. I'm trying my best to not blow up when she acts up, but I know I'm far from perfect. Just like her, I'm learning lessons almost daily about myself and how I handle things. It seems like I'm making a lot of the same mistakes, but I have to give myself credit for at least noticing those things and trying to work on them (even if I keep failing). My intentions are there, but I have a long way to go before my deeds are at the same level. I suppose this is the point in my blog post where I stop writing, think deeply about everything I've written, smirk at something I've just learned about myself and then finish the post with something profound before the end credits roll. Hopefully that day will come soon.