Have I mentioned that my 18 month old daughter is independent? We’re talking about a kid who isn’t even two years old yet and wants to do EVERYTHING for herself. Eating yogurt. Reading a book. Kissing the cat. Sitting in a “big girl” chair (and getting into it on her own). Going up and down stairs. Washing her hair.
Well, except that she hates washing her hair. When I ask her if she’d rather Mommy washes her hair or she does it herself, her answer is, “No.”
The other side effect of wanting to do things for herself is that she wants to do them HER way. Just because her age is still pronounced in months instead of years doesn’t mean she wants to listen to advice. She’s pretty sure she knows how to do it better than we do.
We’ve had a lot of learning moments (for me more than her), where I’ve tried asking, telling, cajoling, shouting, frowning, effusing, ignoring, demonstrating, explaining, bargaining… “Please, Leona, can you just SIT DOWN in the tub?” Nothing works. Again - she knows best and isn’t interested in whatever I’m yammering on about. If I'm lucky, I get an impish smile while she continues to not cooperate.
Then one evening we went to the doctor's, because she had a fever and a cough. I figured it would be tougher than usual, because she was grumpy and overtired, and good luck to them if they wanted to do anything useful like look in her ears or her mouth.
But the doctor we had was magic.
He introduced himself to her. He got down on her level. He asked her questions. But best of all, before he did anything that involved touching her, he did it to Ollie first. Ollie was a little purple octopus on a stick whose mouth opened and closed. He was introduced right at the beginning, and then proceeded to get his ears checked, his chest listened to, and his eyes looked at. After having it explained to her, and watching it administered to Ollie, Leona was 100% willing to submit to whatever was needed. Quietly and calmly and with no fuss. Magic.
At the end of the visit, she was only sad to see Ollie go, but we told her Ollie lived there, and had to stay.
Cut to the next time I’m going through my ineffective repertoire of persuasion in the bathtub to get Leona to sit down. All of a sudden I remembered. I grabbed a yellow dragon bath toy.
I very creatively came up with the name, “Ollie.” I introduced him to Leona, which immediately grabbed her attention. A minute later, Ollie asked Leona to “Please sit down,” in a voice only ever so different from my own. Leona looked at Ollie, looked at me, looked at Ollie again, and sat down.
Ollie now gets hugs and kisses every time he makes an appearance.
Oh, and this works for other things too. And with other toys. I’ve even used the cats to ask Leona to do things. Basically, in a pinch she’ll listen to anyone who isn’t Mommy or Daddy. I'll take what I can get.
Now the only battle I have to have is the “No dancing in the tub” one.