Today, Madeline asked me to play a game of hide-and-seek with her. Not just your everyday, garden-variety hide-and-seek", though. "No, Mommy," she said when I started scanning our main floor for a good hiding spot, "You go behind the chair, and I will count!"
Ah. We were going to use Toddler Rules for our game.
Toddler Rules have been cropping up all over lately. There are Toddler Rules for deciding when footwear is required or optional. Toddler Rules also affect the reading of picture books, the singing of songs, and even determine who is permitted to pass the toddler her beverage while we’re headed somewhere in the car. Get the picture?
I must say that I am not always fond of the Toddler Rules. They’re making my job as the primary caregiver more challenging and less rewarding. For example, I could respect the Toddler Rules and agree that footwear is optional for the car trip to take Chris to work each morning. I’m a Good Mommy in the eyes of my toddler, but I can feel the glaring eyes of a thousand righteous parents upon me, even if I can’t see them. Only Bad Mommies let their kids out of house without shoes, don’t you know? The only way to avoid this legitimate, though imaginary, guilt trip is to wrestle a pair of shoes on the protesting and anguished toddler, and then I feel bad for having to fight with her and force her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Madeline probably thinks that being the grown-up in a relationship is the best thing ever, but to be honest, sometimes it feels really lousy to be the authority figure. Not a day goes by where I don’t silently curse those Toddler Rules.
I am also in awe of the Toddler Rules. My daughter has been growing for 2.5 years and this is her biggest expression of independence. She wants to do thing her way. She’s figured out that she’s entitled to an opinion, and wants her opinion considered. That’s pretty cool, too, isn’t it?