Pick Your Battles

June 21st, 2010

One thing that I’m learning quickly as the mother of a toddler is that it’s important to pick your battles very carefully. Every time you lay down the law, your toddler is going to test you to find out if you mean it. It’s important to ask yourself before any law-laying whether you’re willing to go the distance to enforce whatever it is you say. Because this is what awaits you, ready to do battle at the slightest provocation…

An example. As I get ready in the morning, Miss Mouse often asks for crackers. My instinct is frequently to say “no, honey – you don’t need crackers” because I don’t want to hassle with getting out the crackers and then keeping Riley from stealing them from her. But a casual “no” is a very bad idea. A casual “no” only really works with people who actually listen to you. Such is not the case with a toddler. Miss Mouse responds to my half-hearted no’s with vigorous attempts to change my mind – frequently administered at the top of her lungs.

And then you’re in a conundrum. You realize quickly that you don’t really care if she has more crackers. What’s the big deal with an additional Wheat Thin? But now, you’ve said “no” and the laws of consistency dictate that you stick by your guns. So now you’re suddenly dealing with a screaming and thrashing toddler who is flailing about on the floor, demanding crackers that you couldn’t care less if she eats, while you steadfastly stick to your stupid guns and wish you’d thought this through more.

But I’m learning. I try to think before I automatically say “no” to Mouse requests. And if it’s something that isn’t a big deal, I just let her have it. Like taking her sippy cup to bed at night. It’s just not worth the fight to take it away from her. Or trying to get her to read a different book than the one we’ve just read 15 times. I’m trying to channel my inner zen master and go with the flow. Sometimes it even works!

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