Our Perfect #6

Posted by mwallach on May 1, 2012 in My Kids, New To You |

Dear That’s Life,
It seemed when she was born, she was the perfect #6. Amenable to everything, never talked back and simply happy being held, I took her where ever I went. She was the cutest accessory known to mankind. Even after schlepping through the Magic Kingdom when she was about a year old and had missed her nap, she happily posed for pictures and never cried. In a home of larger-than-life personalities, it was both incredible and nerve wracking to have a child who seemed quiet, easy to please and went with the flow. Needless to say, we misjudged her.

Two and a half years later, she is still the perfect #6, but for different reasons. She is feisty, stands up for herself and has incredible comedic timing. She is adored by all. If she is upset, we are told – if she is angry, she lets us know. Even before she really had words to use, she yelled at me son. She said nothing in particular, but he must have been annoying her and in response, she began screaming at him in an accusatory and angry tone. Her yelling prompted my husband to ask me what had happened. Slightly stunned, I knew we were now moving into a new stage in our lives. “Um,” I responded, “I think she just yelled at him, even though she does not talk.” And so a new chapter began.

She has also perfected the art of throwing her siblings under the bus. Around Purim, I found her eating laffy taffy in the kitchen at around 7:15am. Horrified, I stopped what I was doing to address the issue. “What are you doing?” I said, although what she was doing was readily apparent. Even before she could answer, however, I was already on to my next question. “And where did you get that?” I asked. Like a trained professional and without missing a beat, she pointed to her older sister and said, “She gave it to me.” And as I was just about to pounce on my daughter for giving candy to her toddler sister even before she brushed her teeth, my preteen screamed, “NO, I DID NOT!” and was completely confused as to how she had just been wrongly implicated in this mess. I looked back at my #6 and realized very quickly that our almost perfect, otherwise innocent and borderline angelic child had been replaced by a teenager in a toddler’s body.

As it was time to transition her out of a crib, we moved her into a bed last night. At first she wanted to know where her crib was, but then became incredibly excited when she realized the toddler bed we had bought with her on Sunday was, in fact, for her. Having successfully transitioned five other children from cribs to beds made no difference for this exercise. I was suddenly a first time parent, negotiating and begging my small child to stay in her room. Eventually she would realize that lying on the floor is not nearly as comfortable as her bed and there she would finally fall asleep. I was not worried about that. It was the antics that preceded her eventual unconsciousness which I found exhausting.

Serving as watchdog, I camped outside of her room to ensure that she stayed inside. That is always the first step in transitioning: making the child understand he/she may not leave the room. Once we got passed that, and she stopped checking to see if I was still sitting in the hall, I felt we were off to a good start. I should have realized very quickly that no matter what I thought, I was not actually the one in charge.

Standing on the other side of her closed bedroom door, she began to call for me and ask me questions. “Maaaaaa,” she called, in a sing-songy voice. “Have you seen my keys?”

I buried my head in my hands. “Go to bed,” I responded. “We are not talking about your keys now.” “Okay,” she said, though I knew she was still standing at her door and had not yet returned to her bed. Again, the goal for the first night is just to get the child to stay in his/her room and she was actually still inside, but I knew regardless that somehow, I was losing.

“Maaaaaaa,” she called again, confident I was still in the hall. “Where is my ELMO?” I sighed. “We are not discussing this now,” I said to her though a closed door. “Back to your bed.” Not satisfied with that answer, I could hear a barely audible “Oh, come on” coming from her room. I would have laughed had it been said by someone else’s child or someone else’s house. Since it came from mine, however, I was less than amused.

There was one more final attempt from behind the closed door. “Maaaaaaa,” she called from beyond. “I get a sticker in the morning?” At least this was on topic, I thought to myself. “Yes,” I said. “If you stay in your room and sleep in your bed all night, you’ll get a sticker in the morning.”

Suffice it to say, the night was pretty successful. She stayed in her bed all night after a little more drama and we all slept. She awoke this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all excited to tell her morot (teachers) about her accomplishment. Fortunately, she did not remember about the sticker because I only realized this morning that I did not have any. Clearly, I will rectify that before I get home after work, lest I incur the wrath of the toddler teen.

Just wait until this weekend when we begin toilet training. I am sure she’ll be rolling her eyes and asking to borrow the car by Monday.

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