The Anxiety of Separateness

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littlehitler.jpgI've been Googling this sentence:
"2 year old hates babysitter"

That should tell you how my afternoon is going. 

Before I type the rest of this story, I feel obliged to inform you that everyone I know considers my daughter to be the best behaved child in the county, the country, the universe... okay EVER. She sincerely is adored and worshiped by all who know her. And so I can't, for the life of me (as my mother says), figure out why she has succumbed to the commonplace actions of a typical two year old. 

I remember the first few times I heard her say the word "No". It was cute. Look at her, I thought. My daughter, asserting herself. She knows what she wants!
But here lately, when she says it robotically, repeatedly, what I am thinking is, You will not win, you little turd. I am bigger, wiser and I will not let you break me.

Thankfully, she cannot read my mind - though I swear she's trying. She looks at me with the contempt of Stewie. She searches my eyes for any sign of weakness.

But the hardest part of parenting these days is when she is acting the opposite of what I've just spoken. She clings to me as if we are on a sinking ship and I am her only hope. And at no other time is this drama higher than when the babysitter arrives once a week to give me a much needed three hour break from mommy-hood. You would think our 15 year old, cheerleader babysitter is a 300 pond monster who wields a cigarette as a disciplinary tool. Granted, the sitter isn't exactly the brightest star in these polluted skies, she is certainly nice. And I am always here, within listening distance, all three hours of this torture. I am merely upstairs, typing a blog entry for example.

The Great Wise Internet tells me this is just a phase. I've concluded that is what most of parenting is. Outlasting the Phases without damaging you or the child too much. I've given up on not damaging her at all. I dig my heals in for her early teens. At some point, I expect her to hate me.

But not now. Right now she adores me, needs me. If anything she is dependent upon me as someone with who she can safely try out her newly discovered ability to demand M&M's and "One more book". She needs to practice reading minds. She will need this ability when she gets married someday or tries to work through health insurance problems.

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