Thinking back on the last 11 and a half years of my child’s life, I always remember her “Terrible Twos” period and the absolute terror I would feel as a parent not knowing just what she was going to say to someone, or how she was going to act.
You always want to teach your child to be respectful of others, to have manners, say please and thank you, and to chew with their mouth closed. When they reach 2, all of these things become void. They OWN you. One will say that they would never negotiate with a child. That person has never had to deal with a toddler. EVERYTHING is a negotiation with a toddler.
“Be a good girl and momma will give you some ice cream”
“If you go to the grocery store with momma and be a good girl, MAYBE they will give you a slice of cheese”
“No, we can’t buy that right now. No sweetie, not today. Don’t you cry! Be a big girl! Shhhhhh! Shhh! Stop it now! If you stop crying mommy will get you the toy,, you need to stop now though.. Ok, just put it in the carriage”
“Pick up your toys and then you can have a treat. No, no treat now, after you put your toys away like a big girl. What did I say? PUT. YOUR. TOYS. AWAY.
GET. OFF. THE. FLOOR.
WHAT DID MOMMY SAY?
(Notice that every negotiation usually has a countdown. Besides the “Because I said so”, it’s one of the biggest parent cliches. Also, notice it never usually works, and you usually have to go into the “halves” or “quarters” of some numbers. For instance:
2 and a half..
2 and three quarters..
2 and three quarters plus 5…”
So on and so forth..)
One of the most trying times for me with Sarah was her “FO it in da TWASH” phase. Translation: “I’m going to throw this in the trash”. What she would say this about wasn’t always garbage either. In fact, it was never garbage, but anything that made her angry or anything that she happened to dislike. It was all going in the twash. Trash. Sorry.
Movies, toys, her father, me, her birthday, etc.. if it made her upset or angry, it was going right in the trash. She began every “twash” sentence with “FINE”; As in “Fine! I’m gonna FO it in da twash!”. If you heard “Fine” come out of her mouth, you knew what was coming.
One particular Christmas I decided to let her open a gift before she went to bed on Christmas Eve. I bought her a gorgeous nightgown that was made to look like a princess dress, with tulle and sparkles, the whole nine. Since she was going to bed I thought ‘what better gift to give?’ She could go to bed dressed as a princess. She’s going to love it!
So as my little princess sat down with the wrapped gift, excited to open it, I grabbed the video recorder and began to film.
Now before I go further I will say this: I know kids hate getting clothes. I was a kid once too. I also remember getting these kick-ass She-ra pajamas though, and I LIVED in them. I was fricken She-ra now! YES! So I had the thought that since it was a “princess gown” and not really pj’s, she would love it.
Did I mention that my child’s name actually MEANS Princess? Look it up.
So there sat my mini-princess, all pretty, all smiles, tearing the wrapping paper off if the box, excited as can be. She opened the box took 1 look and
“FINE!” (Uh oh)
“IM GONNA FO IT IN DA TWASH!”
While I fought to put the camera down, this little “princess” picked up the box, stomped into the kitchen, opened the trash can lid, and dropped it in, me chasing behind her to try and stop her.
“Sarah! That’s not nice!”
“I’m fo-ing it away! FINE!”
” But Sarah, mommy got you this nice princess dress for you to wear”
“NO! I NOT GONNA WEAR IT! FO-ING IT AWAY”
“Sarah, you know Santa is coming tonight, he’s not going to like this. He won’t leave you anything if you’re going to act this way”
“Don’t you want to look like a princess?”
“Ok you’re going to bed then, lets go!”
World War 3 begins.
I eventually negotiated with my own child about not throwing her gift away, and actually wearing it to bed.
I was tired.
I was frazzled.
My hair was a mess.
I was covered in child tears and snot.
I still had to play Santa and get the gifts out.
It was close to midnight and I knew she’d be up at 5.
But I still won..
She was in the damn nightgown.
She may have fo’d it away..
It may have been in the twash briefly.
But she was quiet
She was asleep
And she was wearing it.