Pick your battles. The parenting mantra.
One recent Saturday morning, the two year old rolled over, bashing her concrete skull directly into my temple. (This slow meander into sleeping in her own bed territory is all at once sad and COMPLETELY THRILLING. Imagine the bliss of not searching Amazon for “sleeping helmet”).
“Ow. Good morning. Would you like some breakfast?”
“Huh. Interesting choice, but no. How about some oatmeal?”
“I WANT BBQ CHIPS!”
First of all, how do you wake with such gusto? It takes me 2 shots of espresso and a Robert De Niro Raging Bull style pep talk before I can even form real sentences. Second, BBQ chips? At 7:30 am? Why do you have the palate of a hungover frat boy?
We stumble down the stairs with the 8 year old on our heels and I turn on the espresso machine.
“Ok guys. Breakfast. Not picnic snacks. What do you want?”
“aaaaargh. Later. You can have chips later.”
“Yes. At lunch time. How about some cereal?”
“With coconut mick?”
“Sure. With coconut milk.”
Phew. Battle Won.
Post breakfast, the 8 year old heads back upstairs to get dressed and comes down in one striped wool sock, one white tube sock, a red tee shirt and orange pants. Of all the possible combinations, he comes up with this. I think he’s testing me. I say nothing. Battle declined.
Let me just put it out there that I evaluate engagement in these battles based on should the outcome of NOT engaging end up with me on the 11 o’clock news. You want to be left in the car while I run into the bank to finish listening to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I know it”? Ok, so if you’re kidnapped I have to tell the authorities that I left you in the car with keys in the ignition AND that I let you listen to shittacular borderline inappropriate music? Nope. Unbuckle that seatbelt and follow me. You want to leave the house coatless in 20 degree weather to run errands? Fine. Please just keep the complaints of being cold to yourself so I don’t have to do that thing where I pretend to have a seizure.
Moving on to getting the tiniest tyrant dressed, I propose the choices of “pants or skirt?”.
“Great. This one, or this one?”
She opts for the mulitcolor tutu. You know, Saturday casual.
I’m thankful this part of our day is still neutral territory. A few options makes her still feel like she’s getting a say and I only throw out the choice of combinations which allow her to head out into the world looking a little less Pippi Longstocking, a little more Madeline. I’m aware the clock is ticking on this one. When you eventually see a photo of her in no less than three patterns and two different rain boots you’ll know that ship has sailed.
Also in the compromise department are the oft battled subjects of sweets and television. My goal is this: instilling moderation. When we were young my sister had a friend whose hippie parents didn’t allow them ANY junk food. She came over one day and in the time it took me to take a pee she wolfed down an entire sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints. It was as impressive as it was repulsive and if I wasn’t hoarding my own box of those chocolate covered peanut butter jams I would have been PISSED. So while we don’t keep much crap in the house, I’d say teaching my son about a system of checks and balances has worked quite well so far. My daughter is still little enough to believe the “Oh! It’s ALL GONE! SAD FACE!” schtick. As far as television, same goal. I bow before the Almighty PBS Kids and owe the days that I actually get to have 10 uninterrupted minutes in the bathroom to its holy gifts. It’s never on mid day unless someone is vomiting or it’s been Antarctica cold for longer than a few days (February, you soul sucker, I’m looking at you.) It’s really all about what makes you comfortable (read: not contemplate a nap in traffic.)
So, back to that Saturday. A couple hours and games/projects/dance parties later, I head into the kitchen once again for round two of caffeine. As I reach for the coffee, I hear a familiar rustle followed by crunching and spin around to this:
Oooh. Point yours, you determined little starch freak. Enjoy your chips.