Saturday, January 22, 2011

Holding the middle

It's hard to plan a birthday party when you don't really like the birthday girl's behavior at the moment. Actually, it's a miracle I was even able to type that last sentence. The birthday girl routinely pops keys off my keyboard. For a while, I couldn't find the letter 'M'. And when the 'L' went missing, we just had to replace the entire keyboard.

Last year on her birthday we were snowed in and we had a low-key family party. My husband and I discussed what to do for her party this year. We couldn't even think of what to serve since she barely eats and throws most of her food on the floor.

What does this child even like?

Screaming. Crying. Throwing toys and food. Pooping and peeing on the floor. Jumping on the sofa. Hitting people. Breaking things.

Sounds like a college frat party. Maybe we should get a keg of apple juice and invite some kids over for a morning of sofa jumping and toy hurling. Then we can set up a boxing ring and have a food fight.

That's paint on her face
My 2 year old to be is a disaster. Who is potty trained despite the floor pooping incidents. I was afraid that she was pooping on the floor in retaliation for, oh, everything: being a middle child, having to go to bed, being told no. I suspect that miscommunication was part of the problem. She was probably trying to tell us that she had to go, yet we didn't get it.  Probably the lack of actual words coming out of her mouth. (Why haven't mothers evolved into mind readers yet?) She seems to understand what we want, though.

"No poop on the floor," she tells us. And she hasn't since last Saturday afternoon.

She's using language but doesn't understand the full implications of what she says.

"Is there poop on the floor, Fiona?"

"Yeah," she says excitedly. But there isn't it. Unless she's thinking of last weekend which was a perfect shit storm. Ah, well, at least she's saying "yes" instead of "no" all the time. Danny didn't start saying that until well into his third year.

She's giving up her afternoon nap already. Or I should say that we are giving up on her naps. I'm just tired of fighting her. Getting her down is a battle, one in which she trashes her room and sometimes poops on her bedroom floor. If she does sleep, bedtime is another major battle. One night last week, she cried hysterically on and off for over an hour. (I have little sympathy in this situation. My thinking? If she can turn it on and off, she can turn it off permanently.) Every time I left her bedroom, she cried. When she doesn't nap, she falls asleep within minutes.
She's struggling to be heard and noticed and to participate. She likes clothes, which is the only indication we have that she is indeed a girl. (I'm not a girly girl and certainly don't want my daughter to be Barbie and princess obsessed. I am a little excited, though, that she likes to try on clothes.) She hits her dolls and fights with Danny over cars. She almost never cries when she falls; she cries hysterically if you tell her no or discipline her in any way. She wants to be included in everything. She intentionally agitates her big brother. She wants me to hold her, then she tries to shove her fingers up my nose or in my eye or bites my chest.

A year ago this weekend was my due date for Fiona. We were snowed in and about to attempt our first homebirth. I got pregnant with Owen about six months later. It's almost as if she became a middle child right then. My attention was already split three ways. So much has happened in two short years that I feel like I hardly even know my daughter sometimes.

My current theory is that she needs more of my attention. I'm sure this is why she mercilessly abuses her brothers. Danny gets clobbered with toys; she's a bit gentler with Owen, just using her hand. I've instituted girl time. The past two Saturday mornings, we have gone to the library for story time and to Starbuck's. She asks for coffee; I buy her chocolate milk and we sit, or I sit and she flits about. I'm not really imagining what it will be like years from now or whether we'll even continue our girl time. All that projecting takes too much energy. I'm just trying to watch her and figure out who she is and let her do most of the talking.

She seems tentative about the whole thing. It's almost like she's trying to figure out what I'm doing. She's not lapping up the attention during girl time, but just in the past week she's been a bit more affectionate and engaging with me. It feels like we are trying to figure each other out. Some days it's us ladies against the guys, other days she plays the daddy's girl role after we've butted heads too many times, and yet other days it's just Fiona against the world. We have plenty of time, though; after all, a daughter's a daughter all her life.

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