Madeline was saying, “NO!” and “NOW!” a lot yesterday morning. My patience was short-fused after getting about a total of eight hours of sleep over the past two days. I was trying to keep my cool, but I finally told this tiny tyrant that “Mommy’s the boss” and this simple fact means she cannot order me around. She let these words sink in for a brief moment and then countered, “No!” (Big surprise, right?)
“Maddy’s the boss,” she added.
“I think you need to put yourself in Time Out until you can settle down,” I told her. We don't often use the traditional Time Out, but this offshoot of the popular discipline strategy seems to work for us. It gives Madeline some autonomy (something every 2-going-on-3-year-old needs a little more of in her life) while helping her learn to better control her feelings. (I need Time Outs throughout the day as well.)
Amazingly, Madeline immediately retreated to the bottom stair (our Time Out site) and remained there until she could compose herself, which ended up being less than a minute. When she returned to me in the kitchen, she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said with surprising sureness, “Mommy’s the boss.”
Right you are, Little One.
Parenting isn’t a competition. There are no scoreboards or report cards and I certainly don’t get a raise for a job well done – or even a pat on the back, although I do get some great job perks like spontaneous hugs and kisses. But it’s small victories like these – when see a smidgen of emotional maturity in a toddler and when she recognizes that I’m the one in charge - that are enough to keep me going even when I feel defeated and exhausted.