Sunday, March 28, 2010

26 Months (the second)

Children hate, more than anything, to upset their parents. Don't get me wrong, they love to push the envelope, to test the boundaries that are in place around them and who puts those boundaries in place. You guessed it. To a child, every day is a new step further in limit expansion. They grow so quickly, growing into larger entities right before your eyes. So it's in their nature to push, to develop their capacity and quite often that behavior has the ability to devolve into downright abhorrence. That's when the monster comes out, the blaring siren of stop that wrenches out of you and scares the crap out of them. They hate to see that anger upon your face.

No more is this obvious than with a two-year-old. Quinn is becoming a little mischievous minx. She has a smile that is sly and tempting. It tells you, 'Yeah, I know exactly what I am doing and yeah, I know that you don't like it but I'm going to do it anyway.' There's a fine line between allowing her to hold onto this arrogance at such a young age and reminding her exactly how old she really is, but making that choice is the difference between peace (a nagging disturbing sense of quiet, of course, but peace nonetheless) and cataclysm.

So Quinn does have this personality trait that is insufferable and most often it is revealed in one frustrating action that she repeats over and over again. As long as she's been able to hold a bottle, she absolutely loves to turn it upside-down and dump it out, wherever that may be; on her high-chair, the floor, the furniture, even in bed. It's become such a bad habit that whenever she has a cup of liquid in her hands now, you will find a wet spot somewhere in the house, guaranteed. She will swirl her hands in it, saturate a pillow with it, do just about anything with it but drink it. She's a chemist at heart.

You might think, 'What's the big deal? It's just a little water,' which was the typical response that we had for the longest time but eventually it gets real tiring cleaning up after a two-year-old day in and day out. You might say to yourself, 'Well, don't give her anything or monitor the situation better,' but Quinn is a very sneaky little critter and even when you don't give her something directly, it still manages to get into her hands and turn into a giant wet spot on the sofa. Sure, she'll take a drink or two but then it becomes the ingredients for a diabolical stew. About the only thing that she'll drink down with any determination is a half-empty bottle of beer that you managed to leave unattended on a side table for a moment (like I said, she's real sneaky).

Unfortunately her behavior is making Xtimu and I react with more and more vehemence. We are tired of it and we are beginning to let her know. The thing about a two-year-old is that they are at a unique age where they pay a lot of attention to you. You are their world and often times they are absorbed in your reactions to them constantly. Watching the fall of their little faces when you've just managed to raise your voice above the bar of acceptance they have set for themselves is almost as terrible as the act that caused you to raise your voice in the first place. It starts with a pause, a shocked look fills their eyes and then the down-turned mouth, followed by the tears.

I know that her actions have caused my extreme reaction, which in turn causes her extreme reaction, but there's a difference between true despair that wrenches at their little hearts and a mild sense of being upset that comes upon them from time to time. Being the cause of that true despair, because they hate to see you so angry with them, is enough to wash away all of the frustration that came over you in the first place. There have been many times when I immediately changed my tone once that look cascaded down upon my little girl's face. I don't want to make her feel that way. Besides, I know that this time won't last very long and it won't be long before it takes a lot more to get her to that degree of parent-induced sadness. She has a big brother, after all, and he's already expanded his envelope so that it is now bulging and overrated. I'm sure he's teaching her a thing or two about how to deal with these rickety old things they call Mommy and Daddy.

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