Tuesday Toddler Update: The Negotiator

Vegan Goodness:
Today we ate . . .

  • Breakfast: Smoothies for Dad and LP.  Mom got to sleep for an extra hour, and then we all had cereal with soymilk.
  • Lunch: Dad made hummus, so we all had pita chips and bell pepper strips with hummus.  LP also had some leftover hash from last night topped with some avocado.
  • We all snacked on apple slices after LP’s nap.
  • Dinner: Fusilli with Beets using up the last of our CSA beets.
  • Mom and Dad had some chocolate chips with peanuts for dessert.

Money Matters:
Today we went to the park, and then Mom went on really nice walk with a friend (and another adorable baby!) However, we also managed to stay out of stores – nothing spent!

Tuesday Toddler Update:

I didn’t think I would be dealing with this until LP was a teenager.  Or a pre-teen, at least.

Apparently, everything I say is up for negotiation.  I give him a time-out, he sits down 6 inches away from his time-out spot and announces “Time-out here!” and then looks at me to see if this infraction is going to slide.  If I say “No, go to your time-out spot” he scoots 3 inches closer and repeats his earlier statement.  When we are playing and I state that we have “one more minute” the response is “no, two more minute.”  I say “all done with crackers” and I am told “one more cracker.”

On one hand, I think this is hilarious.  I don’t see it as a battle of wills, but instead as a way for LP to test boundaries and structures.  Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but don’t take any of it personally.  When I’m teaching I deal with this kind of behavior all the time (usually about late homework or wearing a hat instead of crackers and time-outs, but it is essentially the same).  If I took it personally all the  time, I would simply go insane.

On the other hand, this type of negotiation can be super frustrating.  I don’t mind giving in a little bit now and again – it is good to let LP “win” with things that don’t matter too much (like when he wants to play with legos somewhere else, or he wants to take a bite of his tomatoes instead of his avocado at lunch).  However, he also needs to know that the grown-ups are in charge and that he needs to do what we tell him.  I don’t want him thinking that it is up for negotiation when I tell him to get away from the counter – where there is a knife – or when we give him a huge, horrendous time-out with lots of yelling after he pulled an outlet cover out of an outlet.  So, sometimes I just have to hold the line on things I don’t care about.  Time-outs happen in the time-out spot . . . period.  He has to drink a significant amount of smoothie before he gets extra toast with butter.  Sometimes this feel a little bit like the teaching battles I have fought over things like chewing gum and wearing hats.  I didn’t really care about those things, but they were school rules, and I believed in the principle of school staff banding together around specific boundries.

Everyone needs some structure in there lives, and kids especially.  Structure makes things more predictable and safe, and I don’t negotiate with LP about the things that provide long-term structure in our house.  But I also want him to learn that it is ok to question authority and propose alternatives to the status quo.  I try to remember to explicitly tell LP when something isn’t up for negotiation, and I don’t get mad at him for trying.  He is doing what he is supposed to do.  He is testing the boundaries, and our job is to somehow balance the need to maintain these boundaries while also offering some autonomy for him now and again.  We’ll keep trying to work on that delicate balance.

Meanwhile, the chocolate chips are off limits to everyone – except Mom.  Now that is non-negotiable


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