It is such an interesting phenomenon we are currently witnessing with Eliza. My sweet baby girl has gone from daddy’s little angel to daddy’s little nightmare. 90% of the words coming out of her mouth are “NO WANT IT”, “NO, I WANT DO IT”, or “QUIT IT”. She’s developed a feisty (that’s my PG assessment, anyway) little persona to test my wife and I on a minute-by-minute basis. Anyway, the interesting phenomenon is not that she has become a stubborn little mule, but rather that her disdain for our instructions doesn’t deter her from mimicking us constantly in both the good and bad ways.
Eliza is doing a fantastic job with her new baby sister Everly (5 weeks), but she is still behaving like a gremlin for my wife on her maternity leave. The gremlin doesn’t listen, wants to do everything herself, and refuses any and all instructions. I realize this is par for the course for 2 year olds, but how do those little minds reconcile the fact that they fight everything their parents say but repeat everything their parents do. After a rough morning that involved several timeouts, Eliza still took the time to put her baby doll down for a nap: she used the soft words my wife uses for her nap, she tucked the blanket tightly, she sang her doll a song like my wife does, and repeated every behavior my wife does when tucking her in. It was sweet. Angelic. Not to last. But sweet.
My mother watched Eliza for a brief morning on her day off this week, and as usually is the case, she let my daughter sucker her into a stuffed animal purchase at Walgreen’s. Eliza came home proud as ever of the newest addition to her stuffed animal army. She took the animal, a bunny named Hopper, and wrapped her in the baby blanket she has for her dolls. She asked Hopper if it was hungry, lifted up her shirt, and stuck Hopper to her Owwies. Owwies is the term my daughter uses for nipples, because she believes that nipples are scars. This is a lot better than 6 months ago when, with teeth clinched, she was trying with all her might to rub off daddy’s nipples as she though they were just dirt or food or who knows what.
So Eliza sat there for several minutes with hopper held to her nipples. Was it weird? A little…yet so darn sweet. The girl that literally laughs in my face right now when I ask her to do something is the same girl that has intuitively picked up so much of my wife’s and my affections. It actually makes her tantrums more bearable knowing how much of the good stuff is seeping in despite her efforts to the contrary. She adores her mommy to no end, and testing her boundaries has just become part of her development I suppose. If I could draw a tidbit out of my daughter nursing her rabbit, it would be that we need to persevere when the tantrums are rough and the patience runs short; no matter how much we say, read, and repeat it, kids are ridiculously more perceptive than we think. Next time you feel like losing your temper, just remember: do you want your kid to copy that behavior or breastfeed his or her stuffed animal? Maybe don’t answer that…:)