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 is...um, 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."
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?