This is a tale of everlasting compromise as a means towards long-term survival. If you care-take for children you already know this is the creed. It’s mostly not at all about what you want or thought or planned, and really almost entirely about their toddler desires. Everything from fashion to cuisine is a short (notice) order. Sure you may have wanted her to wear her pretty dress on Friday, but she wants her striped leggings paired with a shirt in the hamper and her sparkly shoes. Why? Because last Tuesday while you were in awe of how fast your darling is growing she was busily developing her sense of self fully equipped with strong opinions.

She doesn’t want ME to comb her hair and on a good day rejects only 30% percent of acceptable social etiquette. So as my three year old Ke$ha frolics down the stairs ( I half expect her to slide down the railing) I prepare her breakfast. But she doesn’t want waffles she wants oatmeal and she doesn’t want to eat it next to her sister she wants to be in the dining room…”Oh and mom I wanted the other plate and I didn’t want water I wanted juice.” Right. I’m so lucky she’s so tolerant of my ongoing telepathic inefficiencies.

I’m always in awe of watching my girls grow and increase their knowledge base. Some days I fear they may surpass me by the age of seven and then what will I have to protect myself from their linguistic wrath? As if it wasn’t shocking enough to be rendered speechless by the antics of a sophisticated three year old, it’s totally astonishing, jaw to the floor, to see a one and a half year old use partial words and a Morse code of mumbles and sounds to put us all in our place. Believe me, we all know what she wants and means despite her lack of formulation. My little darling has learned quickly from her mentor how to dictate the essentials, specifically the almighty “No” and the fight- starter ” Mine” and a whole conversation may consist of only those terms said with a variety of inflections. But there’s never a question or a doubt, she’s as serious as her solid stance says she is. Her ability to know and relay her desires necessitates a heavy load of compromise.

The easy compromises are the ones that can be broached with a dose of humor and a healthy portion of patience and have a successful outcome. For example I know I must bring three spoons to feed my little darling her one bowl of oatmeal. Only one spoon will be the champion of actually feeding her. The first spoon is the decoy, the one I start with which I know she will want to take for herself to prove her independence, it only usually lasts a mere ten to fifteen seconds before being snatched away. The second spoon is really the sacrifice, just an easy target for her other free hand, and she grabs it quickly just because she can. This second spoon is a dedication to her strong will and stubborn streak. And finally, the third spoon is the one I ultimately get to hold and feed her with! Small price to pay for her contentment, three spoons!

The compromises, though frequent, on-going, and exhausting are a reminder of the wonderment of being small. There is absolute magic in allowing them to dictate (the small stuff). Yes it takes longer and is often messier but the value in their ability to individuate and make choices is priceless. And even more joyous is the sense of pride that exudes from their little faces as they look at you post-accomplishment and check in “See that?! I did it!!! All by myself?! See me mommy?!” And the heartstrings pull as I radiate with the usual glee and sadness, co-existing as always, my babies are growing up. And the compromise disappears as I stutter back, I see you baby, good job! {and…here come the sniffles & happy tears}