It was an early morning and the often dreaded get-ready- for-school routine was upon us. Neither of us excel in the “morning person” area, so my son and I both struggle with the unreasonable demands of waking up and getting dressed at a certain time.
This morning was different, though. We had both gone to bed very early the night before, were well rested, and had spent the first part of the morning talking, laughing, and reading stories. It was going to be a good day. Obviously, having that thought was my first mistake.
As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, my son began the first battle with an outcry of “I want to be naked!”
“I know, you really like to be naked,” I replied, “but right now we have to get dressed and go to school.”
Reluctantly, my naked toddler sauntered over to me and offered his foot for the putting on of underwear. First battle: Mommy.
“I want this shirt!” he said, presenting a gray and black striped shirt. “And these pants!” he declared, choosing a slightly wrinkled pair of khakis from the laundry pile on the couch.
I am not a huge stickler for fashion, since I have been known to show up at preschool drop off and pick up with no bra, sweat pants, and a ponytail, but when I actually get dressed I do like fashion. And I definitely like for my son’s clothes to match.
“I’m not sure that those pants match that shirt. What about jeans with that shirt? Or you could wear this blue shirt with those pants? Oh look I even have the blue socks to match this blue shirt!” (Yes, he has socks that match certain shirts. I like a well dressed toddler.)
He met my attempts with a defiant ”NO!” complete with a dismissive swipe of the jeans and blue shirt, and instead opting for the mismatched attire of khaki pants and gray and black striped shirt. He did like the blue socks, so now he looked like a complete mismatch of items. Battle goes to: the toddler.
Pick your battles, I told myself. And although I sometimes like to tell me inner voice where she can go, this time I listened.
“Alright! Now let’s brush our hair!” The brushing of the teeth earlier had gone flawlessly. He was dressed. We had even put on shoes without a fight. But the brushing of the hair was deemed an unreasonable request.
“No, I like my hair to look crazy.”
It’s hard to reason the importance of looking presentable with a person who is 1) three years old and 2) ok with looking crazy.
“Mommy will do it very quickly and then we can eat breakfast! Would you like Trix or Lucky Charms?” We serve a gourmet breakfast around here.
“Trix!” That did the trick (pun intended), and my son was soon blissfully eating breakfast with combed hair.
Until he decided that he would like to watch a TV show.
“We don’t watch TV in the mornings. You can watch a show this afternoon.”
“But I want to watch a show right now! I am not going to eat my breakfast if there’s not a kid show on.”
“Then you will be very hungry. We never watch TV in the mornings because the mornings are time for getting ready for school. You have a few more minutes to eat breakfast and then we need to leave.”
This caused an eruption of behavior. He stomped around, yelled “no” repeatedly, and began to throw his toys. He repeated his ultimatum about not eating breakfast unless he could watch TV and ended it with, “That’s the deal!” After politely asking him not to throw toys and telling him that Mommy said no, we are not watching TV right now, I then had to give him a warning that if he didn’t stop, he would be going to time out.
Finally realizing that his tantrum was not working, he gave in and soon starting quietly eating cereal in the dining room while I worked on folding laundry. Battle winner: Mommy. He even carried his bowl to the sink without my asking.
And then, right as we were on our way out the door, he looked at me and asked, “Mommy, what are you doing in the grand scheme of things?”
What a vocabulary! What a question! Oh the shock, the puzzlement, the philosophical pondering!
You win this round, toddler. You win.