Within the privacy of our home, I think she is adorable when she’s testing the balance of power. Although if we were in public, there would be a tiny woman inside of me screaming, pulling her hair out and crying, all while I tried to appear poised, calm and wise. In our living room however, the sheer effort it takes for her to play at being “irrimatated” and “frustermarated” is precious.
I love the stomp of her foot as she puts her hands on her hips, tilts her head to the side, widens her eyes and raises her eyebrows. I’m struck by the realization that she equates these physical expressions with exasperation, something she could only have learned through observation of the adults in her life.
There she was, my reflection, flexing her independence and exploring complex emotions. Minus the foot stomping, she emulated my you-are-about-to-cross-the-line-think-twice-before-you-continue stare perfectly.
We ventured out to the gym, where I got my yoga on and she got to slide to her heart’s content. Afterwards, as we ran errands, she had spirited replies for most of my requests or questions, which necessitated frequent reminders about respect and good listening skills. Sometimes she apologized and gave me a hug and kiss, sometimes she stroked my cheek and called me her “sweet mommy,” and in other instances she narrowed her eyes and literally growled “okaaaaaya” at me.
It was at lunch that my sweet person made one last attempt to tip the scales of authority in her favor. We were at our favorite Indian restaurant, when she started growing restless. I told her to glue her hiney to the seat of her chair. She smilingly obliged. Only seconds later, batting her eyelashes, she informed me that she was going to “walk around over there” as she pointed to the other side of the restaurant. I firmly explained that that was not what was going to happen, when she interrupted me in protest. With an earnest desire to reassure me that her intentions were not malicious she exclaimed, “I know YOU ARE in charge mommy. I’m just going to go over there!”
The innocent genuineness of her disclaimer made it that much more difficult not to give in. I fought the urge to scoop her up and smother her with kisses, before skipping around the restaurant with her. Instead, I mentally fast forwarded to what our future would hold if I gave into her cute tyranny now. Holding firm, we finished our meal at the table, but left holding hands, one of us in charge for at least one more day.
For dinner that night, I encouraged her to flex her beautiful autonomy. We looked at the pictures of a cookbook and she got to decide what we would prepare. She proudly chose African Vegetables from The China Study Cookbook, and as we worked side by side, me chopping, her noshing, any leftover “irrimatations” from the day dissolved in giggles and teamwork.