Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tough Morning.

LIly Ruth is growing up so fast! I know that it is her job to do so, but it's still tough. She's this strong-willed, opinionated, walking, babbling, mimic who sees (and remembers) more than she lets on. Because we have the option, I tend to let her come to things in her own time (instead of forcing her onto a time-table) whenever possible. This means that I occasionally spend extended time doing things like letting her wander nude through the pool house after swim lessons as she pokes curiously into crannies, notes the location of the trash can (so she can throw her own swim diapers away), and removes then replaces everyone else's towel. She also likes to do things like squat down to check out minute particles on the floor - any floor - or pick up and closely examine every leaf she sees. I like to think of these times as curious exploratory adventures, but could they be engendering a feeling of entitlement in my little one? Do I give her too much leeway and not enough leash? Should she be held to more rigid standards so that disruption of what she wants is not so traumatic?

I ask for a reason. This morning, I walked in to drop Lily Ruth off at Parent's Day Out. The (wonderful) lady in charge of the nursery told me that they were going to go ahead and try to move Lily into the older kid room. She's been in the infant room since she started there, but at 13 (almost 14!) months, and now that she's a steady walker, it's time to move up. The ladies normally take a child into the new room for several hours each day, increasing the time slowly, until they are acclimated. What they've decided with Lily Ruth however, is that the back-and-forth is actually harder on her, so they're just going to go for it. I trust them, and I know that they will do what is best for my daughter, so I said 'Great!', and walked her back. We entered the new room, and her little arm tightened around my neck. The ladies for this room approached, and she hid her face and whined. As they started to tell me about how this room is structured, I passed through the entry area and into the play area. She took one look at the toys, her playmates (one of them her good friend Henry), and began to wail. We discussed her current habits in relation to their timetable. She sobbed. Henry grabbed a blanket, shoved his thumb into his mouth in sympathy and edged closer to Lily Ruth. I finally said my good byes and started to disengage my little one from my torso. She clung, she flailed, she RAGED. I walked (ran?) out as she ramped it up to full blown, top volume shrieking.

While I know that most of her volume was an act (and BOY can she act... I have no idea where she gets the propensity for drama :-P), it is still ridiculously hard to walk away when she feels like that! My stomach turned and my eyes welled up even though I knew she was fine. Knowing her as I do, I have a feeling that this transition may be a bit more 'involved' than they are expecting. I fear that my darling one may be one of those kids who take up more time and attention than most. My worry is that this is something that I have done to her rather than just simply part of who she is.

When does latitude become indulgence? Where do you draw the line? When you start drawing the lines, how do you keep from boxing them in too tightly? WHERE IS MY LILY RUTH HANDBOOK? Do I have to order one like her birth certificate, or will it arrive on it's own like her teeth?


  1. Speaking as a fellow mom of a strong-willed, persistent and mother-focused toddler, I don't think that LR's reaction at day care has any relation to the way you give her time to explore. She's heading in to the peak of separation anxiety, and it's a rocky road. Piper has a hard time when I leave her to head downstairs to brush my teeth, and no one or nothing will break her of her outrageous Tasmanian Devil meltdown except for my return. It's been hard for us, but I trust that she'll come around soon. I have yet to drop her off anywhere yet, and I'm bracing myself for months of transition. I love that you give LR time to explore her world - it's the way they learn and so very important for development! You might want to start offering choices whenever you can (two choices, either of which you're fine with), like 95% of the time, which will give LR a sense of control, and then in that 5% of the time you need to assert your power, you can. For instance, "it's time to go, do you want to go now or in 5min?" "you need to eat some fruit, do you want apples or oranges?" or even silly choices like "would you like to head to the door sounding like a monkey, or an elephant?" Even though she may not verbally be able to answer, it can begin the process.

  2. Nina, you complete me. Where do you learn all this stuff????? Can you come to my house and teach me?

  3. Aw Rachel, you made me feel like a halfway decent mom just then! It doesn't get any easier the second time around, but at least I have an arsenal in place. There's a parenting technique that our ped recommended that was created by folks in CO called Love and Logic, and that's where the whole choices thing comes from. We read the little kid version with Brady, so I've been going back to reading it with Piper. It's called Love and Logic: Magic for Early Childhood - some of the ideas are good, some are hokey, but it helped a lot.