Great picture, right? “Like a magazine cover photo,” said the photographer this afternoon. If you only knew the mental strife behind that photo. What we had to do to get her to cooperate….Oh….my…3.
I thought I had escaped the wrath of the terrible two’s. My daughter is a very good kid, and extremely well spoken for her age. That’s part of the reason her new-found ‘streaks of independence’ are becoming so…let’s just say…challenging.
It used to be that a simple, “Go to your room,” was enough to get the disciplinary point across. Then, she realized all of her toys were in her room and it really wasn’t all that bad of a punishment. Next came time out, then taking things away…early bed-time…taking blanket away…no toys from the dollar bin (a crisis in itself), and now we’ve circled back around to time-out. I’d spank her, but that would leave me feeling bad and her most likely laughing. A friend of ours just looks at his boys and they scurry in their ‘well-behaved’ positions. I’m outwardly jealous.
5 time out’s yesterday. 2 today, and we’ve only been home for a few hours when she isn’t napping. That left the Portrait Studio to feel the wrath of her “I’m 3, listen to me” nonsense today.
Let’s step back a few paces so you can appreciate the full experience. Her Daddy works. I stay home. She has started missing Daddy more when he’s at work lately, which is sweet and I empathize with her. How quickly she learned to float that into a plea for mercy when she get’s in trouble. “I want Daddy. I very miss Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” As if it’s not hard enough to discipline a 3 year old without feeling bad. Relentless. (Note: 3 year old’s have no mercy.)
Imagine my joy when my husband has the day off and I get to leave the house for a couple hours…giving her time with her Daddy. Sounds like she’d be all for that, right? Until I get a call in the grocery store from a sad little 3 year old that misses her Mommy. “I just very miss you, Mommy.” Ugh. (Note…No, you can’t win.)
Last night I let her wait up for Daddy to get home from work. We showed him the pretty dress she was going to have her pictures taken in, and how pretty and pink her finger and toe nails were for picture day. She was even practicing her smile. Ha, I thought. We’ll just see about that.
This morning she even let me put the sponge curlers in her hair…and kept them in until we got to the picture place 3 hours later. They called our name, we put the pretty dress and new flip flops on…unpack-aged the brand new hair clips…took the sponge curlers out…and practiced smiling. She was actually excited. Now, to figure out how to get her to part with her dinosaurs for the photo shoot.
In walks the photographer, and Brianne is not having it. Will not stand, sit, or even meander around the background for even a second without clinging to my arm like she’s falling out of a plane unplanned. At this point she’s not being vocal about it, just shy with a vengeance. You parents know the look. Sensing she’s in trouble, out it comes…”Daddy. I want my Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” Not in a sad tone, but more a demanding…do it or I’ll flip out…tone.
The photographer just gives me this look, like…ummm…I’m at a loss, here…and says “I’ll give you a few minutes.” Knowing that time-out is looming in her near future, the sadness sets in and the waterworks ensue. “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” I whip out the phone and call him. God love him, even though he’s at a car auction in Columbus, he picks up the phone and somehow has the patience to talk to her. It seems to work, and the photo-guy re-enters.
Cling. “Daddy. Daddy…..” The poor guy is trying to be patient, even holding my 9 month old’s bottle while I try to reason with the older one, but is obviously not having a surplus in that department today. He gives me 10 minutes to coerce her, but then gives up and moves on to the next person in line. “I’ll let you stay here for a minute if you want in case she comes around.” Gee. Thanks. I can now feel my own eyes beginning to water in frustration and embarrassment.
Leaving is not an option. It’s a 35 minute drive…curlers in the hair…9 month old sister to bring along with her own lot of disgruntles…today being a nose that’s gushing like the fountains in Vegas…It’s time-out time. Time-out, 2 packs of fruit snacks (which we have to sneak because they don’t allow food there), another call from Daddy on speakerphone…a video from Daddy…and that’s when I hear in the distance…”you try that one and see what you can do.” Oy.
In walks photographer number 2. We’ve had this one before, so I’m hopeful. “Can the dinosaurs be in the picture, too?” she asks. I’m quick to reply… “At this point, if she’ll take a picture I don’t care at all.” Bonus number one…she likes kids. Bonus number two…she has her own kids. Ahhh…sweet empathy. Instead of the high pressure, ‘get your kids act together I’m on a schedule here’ attitude…all the tension melts away into a game. A dinosaur game. And the old “don’t you do that….”so they will do it, trick.
As I watch how well it works I start to realize I spent too much time focusing on her negative behavior, instead of making it fun….or, having fun and tricking her into getting her picture taken. Back when she was my only kid, I would have been on the ball with that idea early on in the process. With her baby sister with us, I rely on my older one to know the right way to act…forgetting that she’s only little herself and still needs just as much coercion as her little baby sister. Shoot. Coupled with her new found independent streaks, she almost requires more.
I think sometimes even as grown people we expect each other to be on certain levels…for certain things to be ‘common sense’…to be on the same level as parents, co-workers, friends, even husband and wife. We take for granted the fact that we’re not carbon copies of each other, and sometimes simply don’t understand certain point of views.
The trick with Brianne is to teach her to respectfully listen to me, even if she doesn’t agree with it or understand why. It’s like breaking an argument down between two people, but on a 3 year old level. Accepting consequences. Following rules. Being respectful. Shoot…being nice….which hopefully stems to non-judgmental….perfectly behaved child/teenager/young adult, right? Oh, if only it were that easy.
Hopefully we’ll get through the ‘independent streaks’ without war breaking out in our house. It’s a test of patience. Holding back my temper with her feels like the end of a race…if I can just gut it out a little more maybe she’ll stop writhing on the floor in a manic craze. I feel like I get to know her more with every new stage that she grows through. I learn more about myself, tool. Having a 3 year old is a good look in the mirror.
Well, this will be a picture day for the books…and a picture that will bring back more than just the memories of how fast she’s growing up.
Just smile and repeat….”Serenity, now…”