If my daughter were my boyfriend, I would have taken out a restraining order long ago.
“Your honor,” I would say, “He wants me to do everything for him, I end up with a fat lip or a black eye every few months. He never wants me to have any alone time. He’s so bossy and controlling; he won’t even let me go to the bathroom by myself.” Signed, sealed, delivered. Don’t come within 1000 feet.
Behavior that would be universally intolerable in an adult is just right for a toddler. Though sometimes it can feel like too much (particularly when I want to get something done at an adult pace), I know we’ve done something right when Nora can’t get enough of me. And yes, for the time being, it’s me she wants most. (I am looking forward to the “Daddy’s girl” phase, so I can take a shower with the door closed.)
To a large degree, we followed the tenets of attachment parenting. We were into baby wearing, co-sleeping and breastfeeding. We use positive discipline techniques, we respond to tantrums as compassionately as possible. Nora knows she is safe with us and that we respect her as an individual. I love parenting like this. I am linked to Nora in a way I’ve never been linked to anyone before and I am proud that our parenting approach is designed to do right by her.
This morning, we were in the “family friendly” check-out line at the grocery store. There was a woman ahead of us with two kids, one little girl a bit older than Nora and a little boy about seven months old. She was burnt. She face was without affect. The only words she spoke to her kids were commands, sit down, stand-up, walk on your own. All three were miserable.
In contrast, our family was happy and relaxed. Nora had memorized part of the grocery list and was sitting in the cart, making sure we remembered everything. She asked to put her nail polish on the conveyor belt, and I explained that we needed to wait until there was more room in front of us, so she could reach. She nodded and waited patiently. When all of the items were unloaded, I plucked her out of the cart and snuggled her while Ben paid the bill. I gave her the option of walking or being carried to the car, she chose to be carried. We passed aisles and aisles of tempting goods on the way to the car, she begged for nothing.
I’m not trying to brag about our mad parenting skills, I’m trying to demonstrate the difference in attitude between the Ben and I and the mother in front of us. Granted, she could just be having a bad day, we’re all entitled to those. But the message those children were getting was that they were a burden to be dealt with, not people to be respected. Right now, there are thousands upon thousands of children getting that same message. My heart breaks, and I reach for my girl.