Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Death By a Thousand Papercuts

Corporate lawyers often play the same negotiating game. We send out a first draft of a contract or the first set of comments on a contract that has every little bell and whistle you can imagine. Then, when the deal heats up we give in on the small stuff and focus on the big items that truly matter to our clients. From time to time you'll run into a lawyer (especially those who work for lending institutions) who refuse to back off any points. There are many drafts back and forth, lots of phone conversations but this type of lawyer fights every word and over-engineers each bit of language until you think waterboarding might be a nice vacation from dealing with the contract.

That type of lawyer is a toddler who never grew up.

Ned and Penny are two years and seven months and are exercising their independence.

For Penny that means that she wants to do everything her "self". Brushing her hair, taking off her diaper*, getting dressed, getting undressed, turning the water on, cutting her food, putting her jacket and shoes on, buckling whatever needs to be buckled. She revels in being given "tasks" to complete but expect a throwdown if you try to help her with said task. And if you are so stupid as to take off Penny's sock yourself to speed the process along expect hysterics and that you will give in and put the damn sock back on just so she can take it off again and you can get her into the tub.

For Ned that means that he will control how it is done but that he "can't" (favorite word) do it himself. "MOMMY WILL DO IT" is the constant refrain, even when Mommy, Esq. is not home. Once you have followed his instructions to the letter he proudly explains "I did it myself". Credit hog.

I have adjusted our "get out of the house" routine by building in 45 mins to get diaper bag in order, three kids ready in coats, shoes, etc. For a 10 am playdate we start this exercise around 9 am.

I know that this is their way of gaining independence and learing how to take care of themselves. We want our kids to be "good" and "obey" us because we are in charge of their care and feeding and it is so time consuming. Independence has never been gained by blindly following orders.

Husband and I have been going back and forth on this issue. He does bedtime most nights and when I come home I find out that neither kid got their stickers (see here for said chart) and that they are wearing a diaper and sleep sack and nothing else. He just "soldiers" through and forces the issue to get bedtime over with. Stickers are a failure. My tactic is to resort to negotiating.

If Penny wants to lie on the chair for her diaper instead of the floor, fine, at least it gets her in her diaper. If she wants to pick out her own jammies 3 times, whatever. If Ned wants to go to sleep with 3 books and a sippy cup of water, no problem. But the negotiations NEVER END. We do stick to just one story each and we have a routine that is cast in iron but like lawyers they see any wriggle room and exploit it to test their boundaries.

Oh, hi, Josephine - you're just going with the flow? Bless you.

I am picking my battles just like my mom taught me to. So why do I feel like I am losing the war?

*Yes, I agree, if she can take her diaper off she should be potty trained. Why don't you come to my house and convince her? "Mommy, I am only going to peepee and poopoo in my diaper." I wish her college roommate luck.


LauraC said...

Perfect analogy!! 2.5-2.75 was a crazy crazy age with twins!

And I should write this quote on my board "Independence has never been gained by blindly following orders." We're in a crazy phase right now and I have lost count of the number of times I have said "JUST DO WHAT I SAID. NOW."

Nicole S. said...

Oh lord. Is this my near future? Collette is just starting the "no, MY do it!" phase but it hasn't reached the annoying, can't get out of the house stage that penny's seems to have reached.

Are you guys around next Saturday (16th)? Billy will be in Paris so I'm trying to schedule us up! Feel like I haven't seen you all in forever.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Well it sounds cute to me but then I remember, "hey, my kids will be this old in a year's time" :)

Kendra already says to me when I ask her if I can help her, "no!" and firmly shakes her head no.

Anonymous said...

Aggghhh, I feel your pain. I've never been happier than when my girls turned 3 and started pre-school, which helps tremendously in teaching them to do things for themselves, without fussing, in a timely fashion. I was failing miserably at accomplishing this.
My only advice is to NEVER deviate from the bedtime routine. My husband was fast and loose with bedtime while I was in NYC, and we paid a brutal price for weeks afterward. Only just now succeeding in evicting them from my bed.

Unknown said...

I am also a lawyer and mommy to one 31 month old. I so identify with the never ending battle/negotiation. I refer to it as negotiating with the toddler terrorist. Yesterday at swim class (the very first one) she demanded "I do it myself" referring to swimming. After the first dunk under water she changed her tunne...

Unknown said...

Oh and I totally agree with jungletwins...preschool does wonders to their psyche...I can't imagine the misery if E was not in a montessori daycare where they do most things for themselves (except wipe their buts and pur their drinks) in an orderly way. Unfortunately it does have the side effect of making them think they can do anything (like swim by yourself at your first real lesson).