Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mine and Geez Parties

Some days are just about surviving.

Although I love that my job allows me to be a full-time stay-at-home dad by working post-bedtime, the major drawback is the inverse relationship between income and sleep. Coupled with Amari's recent acquisition and extensive use of the possessive term "mine," and I end up being a tired, grumpy, impatient, relatively ineffective dad. 

I hate it. I remember fantasizing, just a few short weeks ago, that I would be able to magically keep that word out of Amari's vocabulary by modeling sharing, using the general ours, telling her that nothing belongs to anyone, and basically being an all-around communist dad. Fortunately (?), we do not raise our kids in a vacuum, nor am I positive I don't bark "No, that's my coffee" every morning before the caffeine makes me well again, and eventually Amari learns things from the world around her and makes them her own. Literally. By saying, "Mine." All the fucking time. 

Okay, I'm kind of exaggerating, but the sea is calm for so long, the sunset winds feel like a typhoon. I was talking to my buddy Noah about it this evening. He has an expression that he uses sometimes that recently started to get under my skin. He'd tell me about a challenge he was having with his daughter and add at the end of the story, "You'll see." I think he meant it as, "It's hard to know what you'll do until it's right in front of you," but I took it as a preemptive "I told you so," like he was assuring me that I would have the same experience.

Prior to Amari's birth, I believed him. What did I know? Since then, I've learned we have different kids with different temperaments and as a result different challenges. Reya is more of a fire cracker, independent and free. Amari is mellow, but much clingier and whinier. The similarity this weekend came when Amari started throwing the word mine around cavalierly as she clutched things to her breast whether they were hers or not. As the volume (amount and loudness) of the word increased throughout the day, all I could hear in the back of my head, chanting like the murdered twins in The Shining, was Noah's voice saying, "You'll see...You'll see...You'll see."

I definitely see. And it blows.

Anyone surprised Amari had her second birthday last weekend? Seems like only yesterday she was a sweet, innocent, mine-free toddler, running about, sharing shit, and not giving a damn what was who's. Seriously. Overnight - like a Mine Fairy came down and left a possessive pronoun pamphlet under her pillow. The sixty-four thousand dollar question now is how to find a balance between allowing her to assert herself and teaching her to share. I'm already getting some ideas from the books we have and from other parents who have suffered before me.

Prior to the fairy's arrival, Amari's birthday went well. She loved her presents - a baby doll, a tractor, a kite, a tool kit, a play dough set, and a sweater - and she loved everyone singing to her so much that she ended up singing to herself late into the evening. The end of this video shows her sugar-induced, American Toddler Idol audition:


Another quick story came a few days after Halloween. We've always been big on teaching Amari to say please and thank you, assuring her that she'll generally get what she wants when she does. Halloween upped the ante when she learned that saying "trick or treat" gets you candy. The next time she was at Granny C's house and wanted some of her chicken, Mama asked her "What do you say?" to which Amari replied, "Trick or treat."

And finally - demonstrating the truth that with great manners comes great responsibility - last week when I asked Amari if I could change her diapers she gave me her first, "No thanks," and walked away."

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