I realized something today: I don't leverage my "phenomenal cosmic Mom power" nearly enough.
There are three major reasons for this, the first of which is that I'm so busy working at keeping the kids alive and the tears to a minimum that I don't have much mental energy left for strategizing.
Secondly, when my misguided attempts at using volume and/or intonation to convey the seriousness of my demands go completely unheeded, I actually feel pretty powerless.
Thirdly, after spending so much time feeling powerless, I guess I'd started believing that failure was a norm that I should be accepting, and that perhaps I was just expecting too much, too soon, for all my efforts.
To some degree, I still stand by that assessment. I think it would be dangerous to subscribe to the belief that any method I come up with for attempting to get through to a toddler would work 100% of the time. However, I've been selling myself, and my daughter, short in thinking that I've made every effort to better avoid the headlocks we find ourselves getting trapped in on a daily basis as we do battle over every. little. thing.
It should be fairly obvious to me by now (though you'd never know it by my unfortunate, knee-jerk reactions half the time) that I cannot control Abby's impulses, desires, or behavior. Of course, it still falls to me to try to influence her behavior, which, all too often, seems to be an equally unattainable goal.
I've been forgetting, of course, that there are many things that I can control, and I can use them to my advantage.
For instance, I am the Keeper of the Kindle, which Abby knows all too well.
Why, then, have I not seen the value in the position?
I'll admit, it took a brief moment of selfishness to inspire me to hold the tablet hostage for a favor, but I was astonished at the benefits my tactic reaped. There I was, reluctant to give it up when Abby asked so sweetly if she could please use it to watch Curious George, but feeling guilty for saying no to such a pleasant request, and knowing full well that my time would be better spent doing just about anything else, anyway. I deferred. "Why don't you pick up all of your books first, and then you can watch?"
To my amazement, she was off like a rocket. I'd been working on getting her to do this particular chore for the past couple of weeks, but the promise of a sticker only kept her focused enough to complete it the first time. It never worked again.
Curious George, however, appeared to be a prize worth earning. She picked up every book, and received an episode of viewing pleasure in turn.
After experiencing success with the stickers just the one time, however, I had no expectation that such a play would work again. Abby proved me wrong this afternoon when she began, apropos of nothing, to pick up her books, announcing, "I'm going to pick up my books and then I'm going to watch Curious George."
My jaw dropped. I sat back and watched as she collected each and every one.
There was a tiny part of me that felt a little intimidated by this exchange, this revelation of power. Indeed, I felt the smallest bit guilty for having manipulated her to a degree.
But isn't manipulation the name of the game when it comes to toddlers? Certainly, logic won't get you far.
I've definitely got some scheming to do in the future, but I promise- I won't let it go to my head.