We’re only three weeks into the new year but I’m going to call it anyway: I have peaked. I have already experienced my greatest parenting triumph for 2016. Hell, it’s up there with my greatest parenting achievements of all times.
It was a breathtaking victory. Sixteen hours on and I am still feeling buoyed by a deep sense of accomplishment. Inside, I am bursting with pride. With achievement. With glorious satisfaction.
Our three year old is the toughest mental opponent I have ever faced – in any field — and last night I prevailed.
If you don’t live with – or care for – a fiercely determined three-year-old – I can imagine you rolling your eyes at this.
Before I had experienced it, I would have rolled my eyes at this too.
As first-time parents, my husband and I occasionally indulged in a little parental pride. Our eldest daughter liked sleep. She wasn’t one of those mythical newborns who sleep through the night from the very beginning, but from about seven months of age, she slept 7pm till 7am. Every single night. She still does.
Even as a toddler, she would point to her cot a bit before 7pm if she was tired and ask to go to bed early.
Anyway, the arrival of our second baby completely shattered any misconception we had that our eldest daughter’s consistent sleep pattern reflected some parenting nous on our part. We weren’t terrifically skilled parents: our child just liked to sleep.
Her younger sister, however, didn’t share that love and still doesn’t. Which might be easier to live with if she wasn’t also in possession of both a fierce will and logic-defying staying power. In the parenting arena this is strictly “black run” territory.
As a just-two-year-old, she screamed for 40 minutes on one memorable car trip because we wouldn’t let her drive. “BUT ME SIT THERE!!!” she repeated time and time and time again, at some volume, pointing to the driver’s seat.
Placating her was not an option. Explaining why her demand was unreasonable in simple terms didn’t help. Distracting her didn’t work. Singing, dancing, talking… nothing worked. Not a firm voice, not a soft voice, not sympathy. We had to ride it out.
“It’s going to be a long trip,” my husband remarked. “It’s going to be a long 15 years,” I replied.
Because the truth is that the car incident wasn’t an aberration. It was entirely on point, an anecdote that perfectly captures a day in the life of our delightful dictator.
To be clear, she is, without any doubt, completely and utterly divine. She is affectionate, loving, funny and the source of incredible joy.
In many settings, those who encounter her don’t believe our stories. We are frequently amazed at how this tiny person can so easily flick between divine and devilish.
She is a classic “butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth” poppet, until she is in the mood for a battle.