Tuesday, February 3, 2009

No Know

My current parenting dilemma is a big I don't know. Not that I don't know things, which I don't, but I don't know, which is M's most overused refrain. He uses it and misuses it often during the day. For example, he may legitimately not know where his Duck is, or where he left his cup. But more often, I don't know is an easy translation for It will take too much work for me to figure this out, so I'm not going to deal with it.

Whether it's the response to "What did you have for snack today?" or "Why are you laying on the floor screaming?" I'm at a loss for how to cope. Because the simple solution is for me to fill in the blanks by offering likely responses, such as, "Crackers? Cereal? You wanted to eat lunch in the living room?" And when I do this, I fall upon an affirmative sooner or later.

But while the problem is known, then, I wind up feeling ever so manipulated. He knows what's going on. I know he knows. And he's rigged up this system where he can get me to do all the thinking for him. Which is not only lazy on his part, but ends up making me his voice.

I want my kid to have his own voice.

So then I stick to my less helpful responses: "If you don't know what you're screaming about, it must not be a big deal" or "Try thinking about it very carefully for a few minutes and then we'll talk about it." Which leave me feeling less manipulated. But they can also leave us in stasis for an hour or more while M, stubborn as all get out, waits for me to break.

It's a rock/rock place that shows up in many forms: do you take the route that leads to short-term communication and problem solving, or do you insist on breaking a pattern even if it means hours, days, or weeks of frustration?

I DO know the answer, of course, which is long-sighted (and long-suffering). I've been here before with M's speech delay, where I was filling in for his language in an attempt to make him feel heard. In the end, he was content just hearing me. And we worked through it then, as I'm sure we'll work through it now. But I can't help heaving a sigh, facing again a battle I've seen before and will likely face in the future. Parenting seems so circular, sometimes, that I wonder if I'm the one taking the wrong road.

Now you'll have to excuse me, as K has occupied herself by climbing up to the island and eating strawberry jam from the near-empty jar. Why did I let a twenty-month-old go to town on jam? Well, I just don't know.

1 comment:

feistywon said...

After reading this post, maybe I have found a big upside to the passionate, feisty child (like I. and K.). They believe stubbornness to be highly overrated. They want things NOW and are not willing to wait us out for them. They'll tantrum, whine, and cry but get over it quicker instead of digging their heels in for the long stubborn haul. Hmm, waiting out those tantrums doesn't look so bad after all...