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"C" Is For "Compromise"

eight_months_006.jpgToday is brought to you by the letter “C”.
When Madeleine first developed a will at around six months old, I saw a distinct difference between wants and needs.  The older she gets, though, the more she’s learned to blur the line between the two, and suddenly everything appears to be a life-or-death need.  I always swore I’d never be one of those parents who “trick” their children into doing what they want – distract the child with toys or sweets so she doesn’t notice Mommy leaving the room, sing songs and make silly faces so the child will forget he fell down, and so on.  It’s a baby, for heaven’s sake!  Surely I’m stronger and bigger, and can superimpose my will on an itty bitty infant!  So as Maddie began to grow into opinions and wants, I determined to get us off on the right foot, laying the groundwork for reasonable negotiations in the future.  Madeleine and I have been working on the art of compromise, and I’m proud to say it’s coming along quite well.
Maybe, well-ish.

For example, Madeleine (nickname “The Mittenless Wonder” by the postman we Image014.jpgencounter on our walks) hates to wear mittens.  She screams bloody murder when I put them on, fighting vigorously to avoid them, and then wails for a good couple of minutes.  Mittens on, she stares at them with hatred, holding her hands in front of her like a doctor freshly scrubbed for surgery as if paralyzed by the stupid gloves, while staring poisonously at me.  I, however, love the mittens, because Mad refuses to keep her hands inside her stroller blanket: she has to have one hand pressing the blanket down (she thinks I keep it up too high around her face) so she has an unobstructed view.  When it’s ten degrees outside, I spend the stroll convinced my child – bundled head to toe but for the hand gear – is one step away from frostbite, while I’m one step away from the Bad Mommy Police.
So we’ve Compromised.  Madeleine wears a mitten on one hand – the hand that holds the blanket down – and goes coverless on the other hand, safely tucked inside the blanket.  That leaves one thumb free for sucking when we stop in a store, and yet keeps me from stressing the whole walk.  Somehow Maddie seems to understand the arrangement, since she accepts the single mitten with equanimity and good-naturedness.
Second example – Maddie likes to help Mommy work at the desk.  Maddie likes to eat everything on the desk.  Maddie cries when Mommy takes everything out of reach, especially the pens.  So we’ve Compromised:  there’s one pen on Mommy’s desk that’s Madeleine’s special pen, always within reach and always capped.  Mommy agrees to let Maddie put it in her mouth, and Maddie agrees to forget there are other pens on the table.
Sometimes when we’re out on errands Madeleine gets bored/fed up/tired of being in the stroller and begins to fuss.  I need to finish my errand – say, check out of the grocery store – and she needs to crab.  We Compromise – I fish a toy out of her stroller, and she agrees to forget she’s in a bad mood and lets me finish my task.
Another example – when Madeleine’s eating she sometimes wants to help.  Feed herself.  Without the required hand-eye coordination.  So when she reaches for her feeding spoon, we Compromise, and I give her a different spoon to play with while deftly swooping the carrots in her mouth.
And finally, the nap thing.  Sometimes I think she should take a nap.  She disagrees.  So we Compromise:  I put Madeleine down, she voices her disagreement for twenty minutes, I pick Madeleine up.
Now, if you’re saying, “J’accuse!  Some of these examples sound suspiciously like bribery or misdirection, which you swore never to do!  And the last one doesn’t sound like anything but a win for the kid” I have this to say to you:
Cut me some slack.  At least I did well with the mitten thing.


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