Aviana. My sweet sweet Aviana.
She is a lesson in … well, a lot of things. But today we are going to focus on her sweet and terrible will.
She will come up to me with a picture she has colored and show me the purple in it, and say, “Is dat your favwit, Mama?” Or we’ll be coloring together and she will give me the purple crayon, saying, “You tan use dis one, it’s your favwit. Is dat your favwit, Mama?”
She so wants to please me, and thinks of me highly and loves and adores me. She so needs to know that I am in charge. The boundaries that keep her safe are still in place. The rules haven’t changed in the twenty odd minutes since last she tested them.
And yet that is precisely what is so wearing. I was explaining it to Kevin, that’s what’s so powerful about Chinese water torture. You wouldn’t think that one tiny little drip of water could possibly drive someone absolutely insane, and invariably, that’s what happens. One drip, another drip, and another drip. Each small and inconsequential. But keep them coming, drip,
drip, and the person begins to dread it and even fear it. A tiny drip of water.
Each interaction, each contest of wills, in and of itself is really (usually) not a big deal, but compounded over the course of each day for the past 2 years 8 months and 12 days, it’s enough to drive someone crazy. I know that she loves me and trusts me, and is learning to respect and obey me, and God is bringing great good out of it, but why does she have to fight so hard against the stream?
Our last interaction of the evening last night, I asked her if she wanted to be covered up with her soft pink blanket.
“Yeah, and the fwowa one too.” I picked up the blanket that was on the floor by her bed, but alas, it was the bumblebee one, not the flowered one. She immediately started kicking and crying, “Not the bumbobee one!!”
(I have, incidentally, a fussy baby in my arms this entire time.) I told her that the flowered one was in the pack and play and I didn’t want to go get it.
FUSS, FUSS, FUSS! Kick, Kick, Kick. Cry, Cry, Cry.
Wanting to prevent a huge blowup at bedtime, I told her I wouldn’t get it for her unless she stopped the tantrum and asked nicely, even though I still didn’t want to get it, and thought it ridiculous that she would push me so hard over which blanket she got.
Finally she regained a modicum of composure, and asked, using please, still with tears in her voice, and a small measure of whine. I accepted it nonetheless as “nicely”, and went to get the blasted blanket.
I feel like I caved, because instead of dealing head on with her, denying her out-of-hand because her attitude seemed poor and request felt preposterous. I did what she wanted to avoid a full blown tantrum right at bedtime.
“Say ‘thank you’, Aviana.”
Turns her head.
“Say ‘thank you’ to Mama for getting your blanket.”
“Tell Mama ‘thank you’.”
Still stubborn silence.
“Say ‘thank you’, or I’m going to take the blanket back.”
Instead of ‘thank you’.
“Good night, sweet child. Sweet dreams, sweet baby A.”