Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Good or Goody Two Shoes?

"Is she always this...sweet?" asked the lady at the hospital gift shop when Sadie calmly put the toys back on the shelf when I told her it was time to go.

"She" would be Sadie, and the answer, yes.

My question is, Is that unequivocally a good thing?

I keep hearing about and witnessing nightmare toddler meltdowns but for some reason we just haven't been hit with those. Yet. I keep saying "yet" when it comes up because I don't want to jinx myself.

So far, we have not seen the Jekyll/Hyde phenomenon of when a 2-3 year old simply loses it over some seemingly insignificant thing like being offered the "wrong" towel after bath time or cutting apple slices instead of giving it whole, etc. (knock on wood)

Don't get me wrong - she does get frustrated when she "can't" do something like get the cap snapped back on her marker, or untangle the string from her Trader Joe's balloon. In instances like those, she has strained her voice and stamped her feet, but I just tell her, "Hey, don't freak out - do you want me to help you?" (sometimes yes, sometimes no) and it's done.

She also has what I would consider a pretty normal amount of difficulty with adversity. If a kid takes something away from her or gets on the gym/playground equipment that she had her eye on, she will sometimes burst into tears. Again, though - she's so easy to calm down or distract that it never really amounts to anything.

I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm making her into too much of a "pleaser" and somehow stifling the need we all have sometimes to "lose it" over something that, although most others can't understand, is important to us in the moment. All of the research I've seen says that kids this age simply need the little storms to get over things that upset them - that the release is good for their development, both cognitively and emotionally.

Am I suppressing that innate need for her? I know that she picks up most of her ideas from me, as I'm with her basically 24/7, so I need to keep myself in check so that she doesn't automatically acquire all of my opinions, judgments, feelings, etc. She's very in-tune and doesn't miss much. If I so much as sigh in frustration at say, having missed a green light, she is right behind me, asking "what, mommy, what?"

Just the other day, we were in Babies R Us shopping for a couple of friends' upcoming baby showers and a very young girl (about a year old, give or take) was wailing. Sadie said, "she's crying, mama. She's crying." Yes, honey, she is. "Why is she crying, mama?" I'm not sure honey, I said, while quickly wheeling our cart away so that the other mom wouldn't be self-conscious. Maybe she's tired, or hungry or wants to be held.

Sadie thought about it for a second and then said, "Or maybe she's just being a brat."

Um, gulp.

When did I "teach" her that (sometimes) crying is being a brat? I honestly don't remember doing that, but I must have said it about someone, somewhere, sometime. Maybe I'm laying on the "be a good girl/nice girl" thing way too thick. I know that at some point in my early years, a mantra that my mom bestowed on me was that "a nice girl is a pretty girl; a pretty girl isn't always a nice girl." Good advice, on the face of it, I think. But I'd be lying if I said I haven't wondered over the years why I am obsessed with people liking me and why all of my mad crushes turned into best friend-type friendships versus boyfriends.

I guess there's my answer - only time will tell. But I'm still going to try to watch what kinds of lessons I'm inadvertently teaching her about how to behave - especially when she's upset.

Any advice, mamas out there?


Anonymous said...

I was JUST having this conversation w/ my friend last night.

You much of this is stuff that is just gonna happen. Kids aren't stupid, they pick up EVERYTHING. And they are going to pick up all sorts of things from the things we say and it can't be helped. And if you can look at yourself and say "Hey, I'm a pretty decent person" then I don't think it's all bad, either.

Kids will learn negative things. They will learn how to talk negatively or be mean (to one degree or another) and I don't think it's a bad thing. They are learning to be human, they are learning to interact. It happens.

My daughter was a lot like you describe Sadie as being. And IMPOSSIBLY sweet, easy, nice baby and toddler. Never went through the "terrible twos" with her even a bit. She's somewhat of a pleaser now, but more of a perfectionist. And I think some of it is just in who she is. She's just that way. In hindsite, I try not to beat myself up over it. We all have weird personality traits.

I guess my advice is don't stress. I think at the end of the day if you can know you are a decent person and a caring parent, you are doing the best you can and that's all you can do. None of us are doing this perfectly. We are all making mistakes. As long as you're doing the best you can here, some of it is just out of your control, you know?

Mother Superior said...

janine dear, from reading your thoughts, i am actually more concerned about YOU than about sadie. each child is innately different and yes, though genetics and environment plays a strong role in molding your child, there is only so much you can do. i say that because you are a loving & conscientious mother... you are thoughtful in your actions & words with your child... many parents do not do this as i am sure you are aware.

now what worries me is that when i had #2, it hit me really really hard. my devoted time with my beloved, angelic daughter was now gone and at any given moment, i was ignoring one of my children. it was really hard on trinhity and doubly hard on me. i hope you have your heart & head wrapped around "sharing" your time with your children. it's a tough adjustment.... but i suspect your family will be fine and sadie seems to be very sweet. trinhity had a tough time adjusting to sharing me though from your description of sadie, they seem to have the same temperment -- sweet, sharing, compassionate.

as sadie grows and her influences grow out of your control (school, friends) you will be glad of the influence you have over her now. it's not a bad thing janine. and again, there is only so much we can protect them from.... mean kids, bad teachers, cruel words... as mothers, we can only give them a strong sense of right & wrong as well as a strong sense of self & family.... a foundation upon which they can build, and come back to...
much love to you dear!

YF said...

Oh we do worry about everything, even if they are too good! :-) I think it just means that she sleeps when she is tired and eats before she is too hungry and that you meet her needs. She might also have a more easy going personality. That is a good thing! I honestly don't think you could teach her to behave that well - I think she has the personality to be easily soothed and the support and caring from you and Andrew to allow her to be in a good state of mind. Enjoy her little sweetness! Hope you are doing well and feeling ok still. xoxox C