Independence Comes to Town

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Lord, give me strength: my baby is becoming a toddler.

Homing in on a year and a half, baby is fully into the transition into being a person with her own, fully-expressed, needs and preferences. It’s wonderful. I want to nurture it. I love to discover how she sees the world and what she wants. It’s exhausting. I have no idea how to get done what I need to do while respecting her autonomy.

Her voice is louder now than before. When she’s tired, the melt-downs are a lot more obvious. When she cries, you definitely can’t miss it. When she’s happy, it’s a joy (that hasn’t changed!).

She’s learning and expressing so much. She knows lots of colours, a wonderful variety of other words, all said in her own inimitable style, and a wonderful assortment of other words that we don’t know.

She frequently doesn’t want to put on clothes. Not a problem: unless her extremities feel cold (frequently), or we need to leave the house and it’s not warm enough to go shirtless and pantsless (always). Please tell me pantsless is a word. How are we supposed to manage that? If going cloatheless is an option (I think I just lost my ability to spell) I take it. No problem! I respect her right to choose. If we can delay departure, no problem! I encourage her to keep playing or do what she needs to do until she’s ready to dress and leave.

But, as is often the case, I usually need to get her dressed and out the door far before she wants to go. I can give her minutes, but not hours. Rolling into work at 10 isn’t a great option; and getting home by 7 p.m. is a lot too late to be manageable. So, we give notice (leaving soon, leaving very soon), we model (dress ourselves), we encourage, we distract, we make it a game, we give choices (this jacket, or that?), we inspire (or bribe, or whatever you want to call it: “when you get home, who’s going to be there? Dada!” or “Come play with owl in the car!” or “We’ll walk around outside for a while before we get in the car seat”). For the record, I’m fundamentally opposed to bribing and I don’t think that’s really what we do, but maybe it is.

Husband thinks we need to be firm but loving. I have no idea. I do know that figuring out how to respect her choices and preferences while doing what needs doing is wearing me out a bit. I hope to come up with something principled and useful, but it’s not in sight at the moment.

For now: baby’s asleep, and I’m resting. Aaah.

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3 responses »

  1. You would think I am the worst mother in the whole world…
    That aside, here is our recent delima and solution….Riley likes clothes as long as they are PAJAMAS!!! Biggest trauma to get her out of pjs in the am. So recently, since she’s been really into playing dress up, particularly trying on lots of (play) necklaces and bracelets. For some reason she loves the word “accessories” so i leverage this by letting her pick out “accessories” as a part of getting dressed. It’s working right now.

    • As if I’d think that! I know how much love your girls get.
      Anyhow, I think turning life into a game is an awesome idea, and a love of accessories rocks. Plus, I’m with Riley: I DO wear my PJs all day and back through the night whenever I can.

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