I’m pretty sure when Pat Benatar wrote this song, she was singing about her two daughters, “Woah, we are strong, no one can tell us we're wrong”... sound familiar? Welcome to every single moment my children are awake.
These battles start out small like wanting the blue cup over the red cup and slowly as they get older become more elaborate—take my oldest who cannot sit in her car seat while wearing a jacket, sweater, long sleeve shirt or certain dresses because she claims, “they pinch” which is then followed by screaming, then crying and lastly a naked drive to the supermarket.
Short of, “Would you like ice cream for dinner?” there is almost always some sort of back and forth. Now all you child psychologists out there can slow your roll, I’m not talking power struggles where I bribe them, give them their way and then praise them for being such good little angels. I’m talking about things like, after giving them fair time warnings and mental preparations when we are about to leave some place fun to some place not as fun.
Now sometimes it goes like this:
Me: “Your two-minute warning is up; it’s time to leave the playground.”
Both kids: “No.”
Me: “If you don’t get into the bike trailer yourself, then I’m going to have to move your body for you.” (Thank you Janet Lansbury, No Bad Kids)
One child walks over and the other one does not.
Me: “Excellent job listening, Madeleine!”
Charlotte wants praise too so she wanders over.
Me: “Thank you Charlotte for making a good choice.”
End battle scene.
This is an example of a win. I don’t need to paint a picture of a loss because you would likely have to only think back 30 minutes ago to create your own example. Even though this was a success, I still consider it a battle because of the amount of effort it took for me to put on my patient mom face and utilize respectful, direct language which frankly feels about as difficult as me learning to speak Korean at the age of 32. Especially when every ounce of me just wants to snap my fingers and say, “Let’s go.”
We walk a fine line in this day and age between raising children and spoiling them. You want to go to the zoo but only if we get to ride the train? How about we stay home and I read to you about kids living in 3rd world countries that are lucky if they have shoes on their feet instead? Just today I overheard my dear friend’s 5-year-old explain a better schedule for him than the one she had proposed. These are just the little encounters, I won’t even begin to discuss the ones that have you Googling ways to manage stress other than screaming into pillows.
I am a firm supporter of picking your battles with your little ones. I can tell you right now we do not: bathe, brush hair/teeth, eat a healthy meal, play outside, read books and go to bed singing lullaby’s every day. Something in that equation will have to give way for the epic amount of energy that was required to do the simplest item on that list.
When my girls are passionate about something they come at me full force with their arsenal of pouty lips, tears, and the flail. However, I need only look in the mirror to see where they might have inherited that strong-will and recognize how important it is to keep on fighting the good fight.