Manipulation

I am starting to come to the conclusion that our kid has us all figured out. Vivi seems to know a way to get the things she wants and we are often struck by her creativity. Unfortunately, we are also struck by how easy it is for our toddler to manipulate us.

Let's take potty training for example. I initially thought I could use the gummy bear multi-vitamin she takes to facilitate her pottying. She loves the bears so every time she uses the potty she gets one (either the vitamin or a regular one.) It's been a great motivator for her. In fact, now she'll go sit on the potty as much as 10 times an hour in the hopes that something will come out that will warrant a gummy bear. Another great mommy idea turned bad.

The second big manipulation hit us at bedtime. Around two, Vivi went from being the easiest kid in the world to put to bed to a fierce 25 lb. warrior armed with demands and needs that could not be met in any satisfactory way. A routine that used to consist of teeth-brushing and a story was being stretched into a 45 minute ordeal of rocking, singing, decisions about which music to listen to and which stuffed animals to sleep with, and drinks of water.

I admit that I could have said no to all of these things but when she would look up at me and say, "Mama, rock you in chair and Vivi snug-glow now" there was no way I could turn that down. What mother could refuse to snuggle? That's when she had me though and the demands kept coming. While rocking, she would politely request that I sing Silent Night. (I dread the day I have to explain "round yon virgin" to her.) When she finally would get into her crib, she would need a drink of water. Now we all need water so it seemed cruel to deny that request. After the water, I would set up the music and leave and Vivi would scream for five minutes. It was painful. My husband and I never subscribed to the sleep training philosophy that it is okay to let a baby cry it out but we had to face the fact that our toddler wasn't a baby anymore and she clearly needed to sleep.

We indulged Vivi for a few weeks when the light bulb finally went off. She said she wanted a drink of water so my husband got it for her. She took the cup and, in what seemed like extreme slow motion, lifted it to her lips and started taking the tiniest sips of water possible. We just started laughing. Her ingenuity at delaying bedtime was remarkable and our inability to pick up on it earlier was astounding.

Now she has a drink of water after brushing her teeth and we are much firmer with the bedtime routine (although it is still not entirely fuss-free.) Last night as my husband was putting her down, Vivi said, "Daddy, I need use potty real quick."

And we'll begin again....

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