Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

January 29th, 2012

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Sometimes, parenting a preschooler feels like going toe to toe with an atom bomb — something sets them off and there’s a truly massive explosion.  But other times, it’s more like death by a thousand paper cuts.*  There’s not one particular thing you’re tussling over, but every interaction is a mini power struggle and small acts of defiance and obstinacy are woven into everything.

Miss Mouse was getting on my very last nerve tonight.  I don’t know what happened to get her knickers (or mine) into a twist but she was six kinds of stress-inducing this evening.  Naturally I was flying solo as Josh was at a church function, and I’m sure that had something to do with it.

Every other word out of her mouth was no.  And when she wasn’t actually saying “no” she was acting it out with selective deafness and small acts of petty meanness to her brother.  Like stealing his beloved stuffed giraffe and holding it over her head.  Or kicking his door from the outside while I tried to read him a bedtime story and tuck him in.

By the time I had Buggie stowed in bed (shrieking, I might add, which is weird because he usually goes to sleep beautifully), I was in a foul mood and she knew it.  But here’s where a ray of sunshine appeared.  She asked to play a game.  I refused, citing a headache.  And she immediately offered — “Maybe I can clean something to make you feel better.”  It was so sweet, and so sincere, and so obvious that she totally “gets” The Dreaded Headache.

I told her I just needed a little alone time and asked her to please read a book in the living room while I cleaned the kitchen.  Which she did, narrating aloud from the couch while I loaded the dishwasher.  And by the time I was done, the storm clouds had parted and we spent a nice ten minutes together before I tucked her in.

*And some times it’s sunshine and butterflies and three-year-olds wrapping their arms around their daddy’s neck and whispering “I missed you” when he comes back from a meeting.  But that’s not what I’m writing about tonight!!

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