An Example

Or take today, for instance. Klara was very moody in the morning. Didn’t want to get dressed, brush her teeth, or go to school. And I had an appointment at 9, so I had to get going. Only a parent knows this desperate feeling of needing to be somewhere and not being able to do it because a toddler just wouldn’t cooperate.

So instead of starting a battle, I asked her to tell me what was wrong. She didn’t want to at first but I demonstrated that I was going to be very receptive to whatever it is. And then she finally shared that she didn’t want to get dressed because she first wanted to find out if Mr Bird had enjoyed the gummy worm she’d left for him at the park yesterday. So we went outside, talked to Mr Bird, and discovered he was very grateful and was going to see her at the park after school today. After which, she was eager to get dressed and get to school. She’s 27 months old, and she already can verbally explain her emotional states to me, so instead of a battle over brushing teeth, we had a very nice moment in the morning.

People looked at me like I was a freak when they saw me address long speeches to an infant at the store or a public bathroom. And they still stare at the playground because I repeat everything she says after her. But who cares if I get results.

And at this stage, it all is about consent. I can’t make her do anything. She’s too big. So what’s the harm in getting used to the concept early? The folks who rejected the idea of diapering consent because they (very understandably and justifiably) bristle at the word ultimately harmed nobody but themselves.

I know a young mommy who was fired from her job because she was late for work every day for two months. Her 18-month-old refused to cooperate every morning and she couldn’t make it on time. Every suggestion that experienced mommies tried very respectfully and non-insistently to offer on FB was rejected because she saw them as a criticism of her parenting style. And it’s just sad because now she doesn’t have a job and they really need the income. I know them personally and they are such a nice young family, so it stinks that they are now in trouble.

And mind you, I’m not blaming this young woman. I blame the culture that is so insanely individualistic that your kids are considered your problem and if you are not handling things perfectly (which nobody is, believe me), then you are somehow defective. People’s whole sense of self is undermined when it becomes known that they are having trouble or their kids are having trouble.

In the ideal world, the young mommy’s supervisor would say, “gosh, I totally get it. When my kid was this age, it was a bloodbath every morning. Why don’t we do a floating schedule for you until it gets better? And by the way, this is what we did when my kid had this problem and it helped.”

And no, it’s not impossible. I had a student this semester who gave birth at the beginning of the course. I’ll be damned if I force a new mother to leave her infant and schlep to class twice a week, so I offered her distance learning. (Which I normally hate but this was an exceptional situation). She worked hard, did great, and didn’t have to delay her graduation. Who would have gained from me taking the position that she should have thought about the Spanish requirement before the very last semester, so now it’s her problem? Absolutely nobody whatsoever.

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