Project Life 365 – Day 110 – Satisfying

It’s been a long two weeks around here. After Cadence and I returned from our latest roadtrip to Colorado, I immediately started my new job, and Cadence started attending full-day preschool five days a week. It’s been a little challenging getting used to the new schedule, and today I think it just sort of hit all of us.

By mid-morning, we started to notice a bit of the dreaded overtired whine beginning to creep into Cadence’s voice. By 10:00, she was a full-blown whine siren. And by 10:15, we were ready to evacuate to escape the door-slamming, screaming, Chernobyl-size meltown that was taking place right there in our living room.

Those of you who have ever parented a 3-year-old will not be surprised when I tell you that it all started because she asked for milk and I poured it in the wrong cup.

And those of you who know me know that I’m a pretty laidback girl and tend to choose my battles very carefully. When it comes to my child, I’ll be the first to admit that overall, she’s really a pretty great kid. She’s funny, loving, and smart. And most of the time she listens and minds really well. But those few times when she gets overtired and overwhelmed and starts to get surly are enough to drive me crazy because they are just so not like her.

Today was one of those days.

The minute I saw her started to get wound up, I sat her down and calmly explained that she was already drinking out of that cup, and that I was not going to pour her milk into a different cup and dirty it.

The way she reacted, you would have thought I told her that I just killed Santa Claus.

She started hollering and stomping around the house, strewing toys in her wake. I told her to pick them up and that it was obviously time for a nap. And that’s about the time that all hell broke loose and my sweet little girl turned right before my eyes into a screaming, snot-nosed banshee.

Steven and I kept our cool as the fit raged on. There were a few times we even had to stifle our laughter as Cadence put on her best soap opera-style fake sobbing performance. At that point, she didn’t even know why she was mad anymore.

She wanted milk. She wanted juice. She didn’t want juice. She wanted water. She wanted to get her own water. She wanted her pants off. She needed to go pee-pee on the potty. She needed my help to go pee-pee. She didn’t want me to touch her. She didn’t want me to let her go. She didn’t want socks. NO MOMMY DON’T TAKE MY SOCKS! She wanted off the toilet. She didn’t want her pants on. She wanted water. She wanted her shoes on. NO I DON’T WANT TO TAKE A NAP! She wanted me to stay. NO MOMMY LEAVE ME ALONE! She wanted to take a nap. She wanted to go back downstairs. She wanted to go shopping. She wanted her Daddy. She didn’t want her Daddy. She wanted more milk. NO I WANT JUICE!

Around and around and around again.

When it became obvious that Cadence was going to need a little extra motivation to get herself under control, I told her she was going to lose her stuffed animals if she didn’t stop.

She replied by slamming the bathroom door.

It took me less than 2 minutes to clean out her room.

When the fit escalated, I told her next she was going to lose her books if she didn’t stop.

Slam went the door, and she even threw in a kick for good measure.

Steven and I spent the next five minutes emptying her bookshelves.

When she took a look around and realized all she had left was her bed and her clothes hanging in the closet, she knew we meant business, and it suddenly got quiet.

I wiped her tears with a tissue and Steven helped her put her pants back on (Yes, there was eventually a potty break in the midst of all this craziness). I rocked her for a few minutes and quietly explained to her that the reason she lost her books and her animals was because she was being naughty and throwing a tantrum. I also explained that we know she sometimes acts like this when she’s too tired, and that’s why she needed to take a nap. She nodded and rubbed her red eyes.

Steven and I tucked her into bed and gave her kisses and told her that we loved her. She looked at her empty bookshelf and started to cry a little. We told her to go to sleep and that if she could show us that she was a big girl and not throw any more tantrums for the rest of the weekend, we would put everything back.

She woke up two hours later, back to her usual cheerful self. We spent the day shopping, building with blocks, playing with her new Play-Doh kit. We watched some cartoons, ate pizza for dinner, watched some hockey and basketball on TV. And when it was time to go to bed, Cadence didn’t even put up a fuss. All in all, with the exception of this morning’s temporary insanity, it was a pretty good day.

But, for tonight, our guest room has temporarily been taken over by Cadence’s book and stuffed animal collections because I’m a woman of my word and I’m not about to let a three-year-old think that sort of ridiculousness is going to be tolerated. So far, the results have been pretty satisfying. We’ll see how tomorrow goes…

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Project Life 365 – Day 63 – Big Personality

Okay, so when it comes to my daughter being awesome, I know I’m biased. I’m pretty sure if there was a Parental Handbook, that would be one of the 10 Commandments of good parenting…

Thou shalt adore your child’s awesomeness above all others.

The trick, though, is to keep things in check. There’s a healthy balance between appreciating your child’s creativity and being brainwashed into thinking they can do no wrong. Those of us who live in reality know that the truth is this…

No matter how awesome your kid is, he/she also has the capacity to be a giant turd.

Yeah, I said it. Judge me if you want, but it’s the truth. For every ten delightful, wonderful, amazing things Cadence does, there’s at least one maddeningly naught moment that often erupts out of nowhere. And nothing can make you question your sanity like a toddler’s temper tantrum.

No joke folks, living with a 3-year-old is like living with a perpetual gas leak of unknown origin–shit smells funny and you’re never quite sure when a spark is going to set off an explosion. Something as simple as not being able to prouduce a fruit snack on command (like when you’re out running errands after picking the kiddo up from prechool) is enough to cause a Chernobyl-size meltdown right there in the backseat of your minivan.

And in that moment, you’ve got a choice to make.

Do you scream back and fuel the fire? Do you just ignore it and hope the little turd eventually tires herself out and forgets fruit snacks even exist? Do crank up the radio to drown out the noise? Or do you wait for the worst to blow over and then use your powers of parental persuasion (and some very clever diversion tactics) to contain the situation until you can sit down and talk like two halfway rational human beings?

It’s a highwire act for sure. But we do the best we can.

And that’s really the goal of this whole parenting thing, isn’t it? Taking the bad behavior in stride and turning it into a learning experience, while encouraging the good things–the creativity, the kindness, the compassion, the energy, the innovation. Encouraging that sweet little soul to grow and share her awesomeness with the world.

And so far, if I was to judge our progress from Cadence’s big personality, her sweetness, her brilliance, her sense of humor, and her awesome taste in music, I’d say we’re doing a pretty good job.

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And for your viewing pleasure, here’s Cadence rocking out to her new favorite song These Days by the Foo Fighters…

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