Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Terrible One-and-a-Halfs

Oh yeah, I *totally* knew how I was going to parent my child - long before I was ever pregnant.  As the lady at the counter in my store wrote out her check with toddler-sized bite marks on her hand and politely told her son, "No, we don't bite Mommy; that's not nice," I thought smugly to myself, 'MY child will never do that to me, oh no.  MY child will be disciplined, none of this reasoning with a person not old enough to grasp the concept of reason.'  Ditto being glued to a TV all day, eating junk food, and dragging my kid to my every retail therapy session, shushing them the entire time.  'I don't know what these people are thinking!' I scoffed to myself on more than one occasion.

So I don't take Lucy shopping with me whenever I go - that's about the extent of my adherence to my prior convictions.  Granted, this is not the scenario I pictured myself in when I got pregnant, but does having a child really end up how anyone pictures it before they actually have one?  Yep, I do pretty much everything I said I wouldn't do - Lucy watches lots of TV (I try to keep it educational, eh?), and although she can't have anything by mouth, she gets to taste stuff.  Her favorites are syrup, pink lemonade, and ice cream.  Not exactly the homemade squash and peas I had envisioned.

And now we're upon the terrible twos one-and-a-halfs.  My, what an overachiever Lucy is - she decided to start the demanding tantrums six months early for us!  Pre-baby me would have sneered at this and thought "Well, that's just their own fault for not putting their foot down."  Post-baby me is saying "I'M GETTING YOUR BOOK!  HANG ON JUST ONE SECOND!" while frantically grabbing for reading material to wave in her face to appease the red-faced, crying alter ego that shows up the split second her wants aren't immediately met.

While I feel like we're in a different situation with Lucy, something has to be done.  I acquiesce to her attitude more than I would if she didn't have SMA (at least I like to think that) because she doesn't get to do a lot of things kids her age do.  That, and she need to be suctioned every time she pitches a fit, so I try to avoid having to do that - she's not hugely appreciative of the process.  And she goes through enough, right?

Except... she knows damn well what she's doing.  That part of her isn't any different than any other toddler.  She's manipulative, impatient, demanding - a tiny tyrant, a diminutive dictator.  And the more we feed the idea that tantrums = getting what she wants, the worse they're going to get (although I can't see it getting much worse; the SECOND she sees us with food, it's hysterics.)

So I've started standing my ground.  No more "when Lucy says jump, I say 'how high?'"  I make her wait, and maybe even give me something to get something.  For example, we started a couple days ago with the ABC's.  When you ask Lucy if she wants to sing a song, she gets very excited and wants to sing one immediately.  I've been working on her being more vocal, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity.  "Do you want to sing the ABCs?"  I said.  Smiles and huffing abound.  "Will you sing with me?"  Smile.  "You sing first.  Say 'A'."  Frown.  "Lucy, say 'A'."  Whine.  "I'm not singing until you say 'A'."  Cue tantrum.  And I ignored her.  I watched a little TV, then asked her if she wanted to say 'A'.  She did not.  Our stand-off lasted a good 45 minutes, with Lucy crying - hard - and every once in awhile peeking at me out of one slitted eye as if to say, 'Really?  Are you getting this?  And still nothing?'  She would calm herself, smile, and I would say "Sing 'A'!"  Instant tantrum.  Lucy did not get to hear the alphabet that afternoon.

So, it's a work in progress.  But I'm not caving.  Lucy is my child, and I'm responsible for her behavior - SMA or not.  Yes, she gets sugary sweets more than she might if she didn't have it, and loves her TV pals more than she probably would without it, but SMA is not a free license to assert her will ad nauseam over the rest of us.  That's Mama's territory.