Olive likes to assert her superior intelligence at every possible opportunity, especially when she senses that I’ve been reading parenting books.
It’s like she can feel me strengthening my patience and resolve, and immediately doubles down on her efforts to destroy me.
One role playing game at a time.
I knew myself well enough to anticipate that the toddler years would be challenging for me, but I was completely unprepared for the sheer illogical madness of it all.
Toddlers ask you for water, but it MUST be in the little cup you brought back from Mexico. Then they dissolve into teary fits of rage when you place that precise little cup from Mexico, filled with water, in front of them a moment later.
Reasons, idiot. That’s why.
During the summer, frustrated by our constant power struggles, I decided to take my mom’s advice and employ a strategy that would feed her tyrannical lust for control as much as possible.
The idea was that instead of me issuing edicts like, “Get dressed”, which she might feel compelled by the demon inside to refuse, I’d say something like, “It’s time to get dressed. Would you like to wear your green shirt or your white shirt?”. Then of course, buoyed by this newfound independence and control over her life she’d happily pick one, hug me, and be on her way.
That did not happen.
Me: OK, Olive. It’s time to get dressed!
Olive: *Eying me with suspicion *
Me: *brightly* Would you like to wear your green shirt or your white shirt?
The books never cover this. I took a deep breath and decide to try again.
Me: *Even more extra extremely upbeat* Would you like to wear pants today? Or a dress?
If you think I’ve won at this point, you’re wrong. Olive confuses anything and nothing, so when it sounds like she’s being super complacent, she’s actually being extra obstinate.
Again with the mind games.
I eventually developed strategies to deal with these little conflict points, mostly through trial and error. In this situation I simply made it a requirement that she be fully dressed before she was allowed to eat breakfast in the morning, rather than trying to dress her after, as I had been.
It turns out even that even the most powerful dictators can be quite cooperative when scrambled eggs and kale + pear smoothies are on the line.