Sunday, March 7, 2010

The battle...

We have been through the two's already twice. We thought we had our hands full with Luke and Emma when they were two. Lily was fairly new and Luke and Emma were all over the place it seemed, all the time. When the twins hit three, we thought we had finally crossed to the other side until we heard that it was the "terrible two's" and the "trying three's." Three has been quite the adventure, but nothing has prepared us for Lily. She puts the twins to shame.
Lily is a tough little girl. She will not be overlooked, left behind or forgotten. She demands attention and she sticks up for herself like none other. She laughs with her whole being, and she cries with her whole being. In fact, as I'm writing this, she is in her room screaming because she has decided she doesn't want to take a nap today.
In fact, Lily's cry is so loud that we actually had the police called on us last summer shortly after Will was born. Our house doesn't have air conditioning so we all use those box window fans. Sleep deprived as I was with the noisy fan blowing I couldn't hear Lily's screaming in the middle of the night because she lost her pacifier. Apparently, Lily was disturbing a neighbor's peace and they felt the need to call the police. Lovely. The police knocked, and since I couldn't hear my child screaming out of laziness, I couldn't hear the police knocking. However, the police did say that the first time they came they heard no crying. I suppose Lily found her pacifier and went to sleep, but lost it again and started screaming. The wonderful neighbor called the police again. Once again, I did not hear the knocking. Then at six in the morning, Luke snuck into the garage, opened the garage door so he could see and was dragging in the Christmas decorations (oh my life!) when the police pulled up for the third time. Luke ran in scared thinking they were here for him and he ran up the stairs saying, "Mommy, someone's here. They are here!" Totally incoherent I walked to the door and saw two police officers standing there very somber. After they explained to me what was going on, I responded, "I just had a newborn...I'm tired...and baby's cry."
Needless to say, Lily is loud and stubborn. She can find her pacifier in the middle of the night, she just wants me to find it for her. I could let her cry, but I may have the cops knocking down my door. She has learned that screaming gets her what she wants much faster than speaking and so screaming is her communication of choice. And now that she is two, asserting her independence, we get to hear the scream. All. The. Time.
I have learned that I need to pick my battles, especially with her. Do I really care if she eats yet another banana? No. Do I really care if she pulls every pan out of the cupboards to cook when she has her own kitchen to play with? No (as long as she cleans it all up). But I do care if she is unkind to her brothers and sister. I do care if she is disrespectful. I do care if she doesn't take a nap because the scream becomes louder and longer.
In parenting we have to pick battles - and when we pick our battles, we have to win. It's crucial. Right now, the battle is nap time...and the screaming has finally stopped, wait, nevermind. The battle continues. She is not going to come out of her room until she has rested. I won't allow it. I will win. However, if I let the screaming get to me and went up to her room and said, "Ok Honey, you can come downstairs," she has won. She just learned that if she screams loud and long enough, she will get her way.
One of the battles I have chosen not to fight lately is the clothes battle with my twins. Luke and Emma insist on dressing themselves. Luke is obsessed with sock jammies and Emma is obsessed with looking "perfect," although we have different ideas of what perfect is. I let them wear what they want as long as it is modest and appropriate. We live in North Idaho and though we have had a mild winter, it still is cold, and Emma wants to wear short sleeves with no jacket. I always have her jacket on hand. I always remind her that it is going to be cold. But ultimately, she chooses against it. And ultimately, she always ends up wearing it. Not a battle I choose to fight.
However, one of the battles that we are waging right now in our home is the picking up of toys. With four little ones we have an endless supply of toys and books ALL over our house. It drives my husband crazy and though I have gotten somewhat used to it, I all but go insane when I step on one. We tell our kids if they don't pick up and put their toys in their toy box, we will gladly pick up for them and put their toys in our toy box. Which is in the garage. Up high. I have four boxes, big boxes, of toys in our garage that I have confiscated because I had to pick them up. That is a battle I'm fighting. I have to clean up so much, I don't want to add toy picker upper to my list all the time as well.
So, I'm asking, what battles are you fighting? What battles are you letting go? And when you decide to fight in the battle, are you making sure you are winning?


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