Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oppositional behavior

Has every mother of a daughter had this thought? It goes like this: Will this girl ever stop defying me in every possible way or will our relationship be forevermore nothing but an endless power struggle until the day I die? I posed this question to a friend with a grown daughter and she laughed and laughed, then said, well, no. Maybe, ok, sort of.

Because the oppositional behvior is getting to me. "Don't eat the dogfood, sweetie" followed by GLOMPH, then welling tears and the discovery that dogfood is really really nasty tasting. If that happened once, ok, fine, learning experience, but it happens every day or two, anytime I feed the dogs with the child around. And when I tried saying, fine, eat the dogfood, it's nutritionally balanced at least, she crammed her mouth full with the stuff and had to spit it out. And, let me tell you, that was disgusting. Also, we ate a meal in which she sat on my lap and proceeded to spit out big chewed-up mouthfuls of food on us both. Chewed up food: it's what I'm wearing.

And the food thing is just the beginning: getting dressed, going potty, getting in the car, getting out of the car, any of these things gets a flat refusal about 75% of the time. I unloaded groceries today with a toddler sitting in the car adamantly refusing to get out. It was actually kind of handy but it's also maddening that every task I used to do routinely with the child is now just so much more difficult. My mom has a gift for jollying her along in these situations but when I try it I get a rapid switch from cheerful noncompliance to adamant, crabby refusal. "Tickle me when I won't take the pull-up off my head and put it on my tushie?!! I think NOT."

Did I mention that she's generally perfectly cute and happy during all this defiance? Weeping refusal or angry refusal I think I'd understand (though ask me again later and we'll see what I say if it's become reality--it's probably harder than it looks). But either smiling, giggling refusal or frowning, cranky refusal is her method (so far) and it's maddening to cope with.

Which is why she does it.

The only time she actually cries in these situations is if I physically force her to comply and that just feels terribly wrong to me.

The result is that I hardly get anything done these days, which is ok, but still, yeesh!


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