Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

The Pirate Strikes Again

I could say that my little one is nothing more than “sugar and spice and everything nice,” but the truth is that this aspiring pirate makes we want to pull my hair out on many more occasions than I like to admit. The trick with parenting her is trying to figure out how to balance all the much-needed discipline with the positive praise I know kids need to grow into well-adjusted, successful adults. Trying to figure out what really needs to be addressed and what I can shrug off as minor. Trying to figure out if anything I’m doing or saying is really just egging her on instead of deterring her from whatever behavior I wish she would abandon.

It’s so hard, though, because as I say to people all the time, she’s everything you want your 25-year-old daughter to be (fiercely independent, willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish her goals, completely disinclined to let anyone push her or those she loves around), but as a three-year old, she makes me crazy. To complicate matters more is the fact that she’s so innately upbeat, so naturally funny, so brutally and bravely honest, and so darn cute.

For all the headaches I get, I’m sure her big sister has it far worse. And because M. is so sensitive, the slightest insult or injury sends her flying full speed, with tears and snot running together in a gooey mess on her cheeks and under her nose, to me yelling through sobs about what D. has said or done. The reality is that D. does pick on M., and M. still has not developed a thick enough skin to handle it herself, nor do I want her to handle it herself all the time because kids sometimes choose the least amicable ways to resolve problems. Most of the time, I’m at a loss about what exactly to do, and my disciplinary techniques resemble the metaphorical stabs in the dark.

Tonight, D. wolfed down her dinner, as is her custom, and decided that M.’s food looked ripe for the picking. M. came running to tell me a story I could barely make out about the bread stealing incident that took place at the table while I tried to take a few moments to check my email. Of course, D. denied nothing, and even had the audacity to saunter haughtily up to me exclaiming about how good her sister’s food was.

“Do we take other people’s food?” I questioned.

“Noooo,” they sang in unison.

“D., I think you need to go to time out. I’m tired of you always taking things from your sister. That’s not very nice.”

She cried (sounds, no tears by the way) as I guided her to a corner of the bedroom. After exactly three minutes, I called M. and told D. to apologize for taking the bread. They hugged and kissed for several seconds like long, lost relatives and marched off hand-in-hand toward the kitchen.

“I know what we can do, Sister,” D. announced excitedly.

“What?” M. wondered aloud, expecting some gleeful escapade.

“We can share your food.”

“I don’t think so, D.”

I lay back on the bed and giggled to myself. This little girl is a mess.

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