Monday, December 28, 2009

Mixed Blessings (ie: Be Careful What You Wish For!) -- by Jamie

I think every mother wishes for the day when she can stop buying diapers; I certainly did. And I’m so relieved that after months of potty training, Jayda now wears underwear all the time. Thus, the other day, when I picked Jayda up from daycare, knowing we weren’t heading directly home, I did what I always do these days, and asked Jayda if she needed to use the bathroom before we left. She insisted that she did not, so, we took off on our thirty-minute drive to our play date. When we were half-way there, Jayda mumbled that she was going to use the potty at her friend’s house; however, we weren’t going to her friend’s house, and instead, her friend’s mom and I had planned to meet on a main street of their town to look at the Christmas decorations before dinner. When I explained this to Jayda, she replied, “Uh oh. Whose potty I use? I need to go.” Oy. I frantically looked for a place at which to stop along the road, found a diner, and raced Jayda out of the car and through the snow-filled parking lot. Once inside, Jayda took her time, but eventually did her business. In the midst of my irritation over how late we were becoming for our play date, not to mention the discomfort I was feeling from my now snow-covered shoes, I forced myself to plaster on a big smile, and praised Jayda for letting me know that she’d had to go—and for holding it in until she’d gotten to a bathroom like a “big girl.” She had, indeed, exhibited marvelous behavior for a 2-1/2 year old, but, at the time, it didn’t seem like such a wonderful thing to me and my freezing cold toes.

It reminded me of the time before Jayda turned two, when most of her spoken words were garbled and difficult to understand. My mom used to exclaim, “I can’t wait until Jayda can REALLY talk!” And now? My daughter never shuts up. While it has been amazing to witness her remarkable speech development, hearing Jayda speak 24/7 isn’t a complete joy. Like all curious toddlers, my daughter loves asking, “Why?” She has questions about everything and everyone, and they’re often quite random. Sometimes she’ll ask me what someone whom she hasn’t seen for months is doing right at that moment, or what kind of bed one of her friends sleeps in, when it’s the middle of the day. She wants to know everyone’s name—from the friend whom I’m on my cell phone with to the cashier at the supermarket whom I exchange five words with, and, simply, loves to chatter. Lately, Jayda loves talking about her day with me—what we’ve done already, what we’re going to do, and what our plans are for the next day—over and over and over again. She’ll often ask me to “talk our day” when I have a hundred other things to do—or talk about—at that moment, and gets very upset when I refuse to respond in detail. Another habit Jayda has developed, is repeating everything she hears: She often exclaims “Oh my gawd!” and “Oy!” just like her mother, and I must be very careful about what I say.

Jayda’s a smart little girl, and she’s quite clever with her choice of words. She knows the power of the word “please,” and, at times when I’ve refused her a second cookie or another Barney DVD, she sweetly pleads, “Please!” which is oh-so-difficult to refuse. Similarly, when I’m angry with Jayda about something, and am in the middle of reprimanding her, she’s been known to interrupt me with “I wuv you mommy! I wuv you a bushel and a kleck and a hug around the neck,” which certainly distracts me from my anger. So, while I do appreciate the fact that Jayda is such a good communicator now, it isn’t always a positive experience for me.

Another important characteristic that I’ve always wished for in my child is independence. While I’ll always cherish having a kid who adores me, and who loves being around me, I think most moms, including myself, do not relish the thought of a clingy child. Fortunately, Jayda, who still exhibits an enormous amount of affection for me, has truly started to become her own little person—one who thinks for herself, and, often even takes care of herself. But even that has its downsides, because lately, every thing that needs to be done for Jayda is something that she insists, “I do by myself.” This includes picking out her outfits (which, to my mortification, often don’t match), dressing and undressing herself (even when it means struggling with a zipper for fifteen minutes), and attempting to tie her own shoes (ie: twirling her laces around and around, sometimes forming knots). I can’t even hand Jayda a cookie these days without her throwing a fit about wanting to pick her OWN cookie out of the box. Jayda’s a willful child, and while that is a wonderful quality for her to possess in the long-run, in the short-term it leads to a lot of frustration for both of us. And, for me, a person who thrives on always being on time, it has meant trying to acquire a whole lot of patience when it suddenly takes us twice as long as usual to accomplish a task—and get out the door.

For every milestone Jayda reaches, I am, of course, thankful, and am more than willing to cheer and praise my child. Her development amazes me, and I marvel at what a wonderful “big girl” she’s becoming. Yet I also realize that with every achievement comes new challenges (often just for me!). Growing up isn’t easy—for either of us—but I’m learning to take the bad with the good. My child is thriving, and that’s what matters most.

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