Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who's the Boss?

Now that I have parented two children past the age of three, I am an expert on twos and threes (wink wink).
Who am I kidding?! Twos and threes are hard. But one thing I have learned (and can't seem to convince others of) is that as soon as you go mano a mano with a kiddo, you've already lost. They have more energy than you do -- they could keep it up all day.
And the truth is that they don't really want to drive you crazy. That's a biproduct of attempts to control their own environments just a little more. They're curious, and that includes curiosity about the limits. The day I learned that "if I can't explain "Why" concisely it probably doesn't need to be a rule" was a liberating day -- and it was cheating if "because Momma's head will explode" was used in situations in which Momma's head would not actually explode. Sometimes the "whys" are clear and universal. Sometimes they are family specific but should probably be universal ("because in this family, we treat all people with dignity and saying 'stupidhead' (or whatever) doesn't do that" is a good enough reason). They needed to know that actions had specific and real consequences.
It turned out my kids weren't trying to terrorize me, and I've been doing a pretty good job making sure they don't terrorize anyone else. And that's not a bad goal.

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