After a full day in the kitchen for Thanksgiving…
Finally some fresh air…
For a while I thought I would be immune to the “terrible twos” phase thinking that it is more of a North American phenomenon and because, from day one, I was very keen on raising my daughter with strict parenting rules.
I used to enjoy telling everyone from her pediatrician to our doorman what a great sleeper she was, sleeping through the night since she was 3 months old. I used to praise her eating habits (and secretly my nutritionist powers;)) and in particular how smoothly the breastfeeding period and later on solid food introduction went. I once called my mom at 6 in the morning overseas to tell her that her granddaughter had a raw eggplant with dinner!
It didn’t stop there, instead of feeling self-conscious in front of other mommies about the fact that my house isn’t at all kid friendly nor kid proof, I used to take great pride in complementing my daughter’s discipline around the house, in fact I was so happy to be raising a house-proof baby! In restaurants, the pouring compliments and applauses on how well my daughter behaved and how amazing it was that she was sharing my salmon with spinach with no shred of objection, used to make my day! Now you’re thinking a mother would always find a way to praise her child even if he/she was the worst kid on the block (an old Arabic proverb says: the monkey in the eyes of its mother is a gazelle). However, it wasn’t only me who thought that my girl was an angel. When her previous nanny had to leave us, she gave a great reference about my daughter to her successor, describing her as “rigolote et facile à vivre” (EN: Funny and easygoing).
Then suddenly came the day, right after her 2nd birthday. It started with a few NOs here and there. In the beginning, we found this super cute, even smart. We were caught-up in making sure that she was meeting all her developmental milestones and were very pleased to check off: better expression skills, better communication and ability to make choices. We thought a strong character might come in handy in the future if she wants to survive a wild environment (like New York City for instance). However, the NOs started getting more and MORE frequent, more and more DOMINANT, until I started noticing it became chronic. Hélas, my daughter was now only speaking in the negative tense! “NO I don’t want the potty”, “NO I don’t want to eat yogurt”, “NO I don’t want to clean up after playing”, “NO I don’t want to go in the stroller”, “NO I don’t want to say Merci/Bonjour”…So we were spending a big chunk of our days just dealing with her “no no no no no no no no no no” (which is one way for her to say No).
Picky? She defined that word! One day, she woke up from her nap with the weirdest request: She wanted clementine for snack…only BLUE clementine not orange! Food time was no more a piece of cake like the old days. I had to find a new trick every mealtime to distract her into finishing her plate. I became a master in all sorts of clown performances. A restaurant meal would transform into a battlefield with her throwing chopsticks on us. All the restaurants we frequent started having a specific table for us, engraved with my daughter’s name. It’s that table all the way in the back, next to the kitchen or the restroom, where the risk of stares (to us or the waiters), walkouts or all out catastrophe is at a minimum.
Nevertheless, after the initial panic, I reluctantly realized that she had just changed and my old tricks were not working anymore and so I had to update them. After coming to terms with the new challenge and gradually gathering more patience and energy to counter her increased stubbornness and vigor, I am starting gradually to regain control. The key was perseverance, adaptability, patience and creativity, illustrated by the following:
While there will be an initial surge in the crisis feel at home, your will suddenly start seeing signs of change and at that moment (the turning point) you will realize that it was all worth it (and you’ll secretly or not so secretly tear up). For me that happened when one day I became very furious when she threw her cheese plate on the floor, then she came to me and looked me in the eyes and said in her primitive sentence structure: “Plus de bêtises a maman, des bisous a maman!” (EN: “No more trouble for mommy, only kisses!”).
This year I’m thankful for being able to bear baby # 2! While it is my second experience, I am still dazzled by the miraculous and transformative process of pregnancy. I’m thankful for the fruit of my first experience that enchants me every minute of everyday. My only wish is that the baby turns-out healthy and never experiences real pain.
Whether having kids is a selfless or a selfish act has been hotly debated and perhaps more so lately as there has been a growing wave of people choosing not to have kids at all, arguing that such a choice is no more selfish than the decision to have kids. Despite all the sacrifice parents do for their kids, the argument is that having a child should still be considered a selfish act meant to bring to life a creature that will provide you a lot of happiness or even as a self-love act since a child is an extension of his maker.
Let’s be honest here, they do have a point and I do think that we should not judge people that make this choice. Having a kid should be a choice. Whether we like it or not, human beings act for the most part out of pure self-interest, therefore, I wouldn’t contest the underlying idea that there is major selfish element in deciding to have a child, however is that necessarily a bad thing? I think there should be a distinction between harmful selfishness (the kind that overreaches to harm others and usually is the type that creates conflict and leads on a greater scale to crises, wars and inequalities) and harmless selfishness (the kind that reflects self-interested behavior but does not negatively affect the greater good).
My heart goes to those deprived from this gift of childbearing whether it’s because of health reasons, social or financial circumstances or any other impediment but I am also thankful for the scientific and medical advances in the fertility and reproductive field that give some people the hope of fulfilling this dream.
Enjoy this upcoming Thanksgiving (the prep, the dinner and the therapeutic power of giving thanks!)
Oh and Thank YOU for checking my blog!
Don’t be shy this Christmas and let Santa spoil you! Here are a few picks to get you started with your “Dear Santa” letter: