Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Victories

I've heard of computer games in which you "play against the computer," or a pre-programed player that is intelligent in that it "learns" from your play and changes its behavior accordingly, making it harder and harder to beat the game.  Even the small victories turn into larger battles because, yes, you've managed to temporarily defeat the monster, but that monster was paying attention and will not be bested so easily on the next level.

Parenthood is my computer game, and Anna is my monster. 

Don't get me wrong, she is a very sweet little girl.  ("BIG GIRL!" as I'm reminded every time I affectionately refer to her as "baby.") But she doesn't miss a thing!  If I tell her at bedtime one night that maybe tomorrow we can go to the park/have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast/watch a certain annoyingly loud explorer girl and her pet monkey on TV - she ALWAYS remembers.

Small aside - How old is Dora supposed to be?  Six?  What parent in their right mind lets their six-year-old go traipsing through the woods and over rivers with a blue monkey and other various bilingual mammals, constantly pursued by the most easily deterred thief I've ever seen?  Seriously.  Anna's going to grow up thinking if she says "Carjacker, no carjacking!" three times fast, she'll be safe on any city street in America.

For a while I thought I was clever for figuring out I could bribe her to let me put pigtails in her hair by giving her a Popsicle.  Then one day when I tried to brush her hair and she looked at me, offended that I would dare to even attempt this, and demanded "Pot-errs" (which is how she says Popsicle).  When I tried to give her a half a Popsicle (because it was 6:30 in the morning and what mother in her right mind gives a two year old a Popsicle for breakfast), she looked at me like I was the dumbest person she'd ever encountered and demanded, "BIG Pot-errs."

To get this smart little gremlin into her car seat, not only do I have to let her climb into the car by herself (and heaven help us if she has mud on her shoes!), but I also have to tell her that her 13-year-old uncle (whom she adores more than anyone else in the world), is going to beat her into the car and steal her seat if she doesn't get buckled before he gets to the car.  This, for now, works whether he is present or not.  I dread the day when she realizes that he won't actually take her seat when he's clear on the other side of town!

One day she and I had gone to share a bagel and an apple juice for breakfast (because I was so organized that week that we had no milk or anything resembling breakfast food in the house).  We were planning to head to the grocery store after we finished our breakfast, so I asked her what kind of cart she'd like to ride in - a shopping cart where she could sit near me and we could sing songs (regular old boring shopping cart that I tried to spice up a bit because it was likely that this would be the only one available upon our arrival at the grocery store on a Saturday morning) or one of those fun (i.e. horrible to steer, run into everyone and everything around you) shopping carts with the car on the front so she could "drive" through the store.  She wanted to drive.  I thought she meant the cart. I soon realized, as I wrestled a flailing, shrieking banshee into the back seat amidst horrified stares from the coffee drinkers on the patio at Stone Creek, that Anna had thought I'd meant she could DRIVE THE CAR TO THE GROCERY STORE.  Um, sorry, kid.  I like my car in one piece, thank you very much!

You'll often see me doing the happy dance after one of my "Jedi-Mom" tricks has worked on Anna.  You may also see me suddenly stop and look around ashamed.  That look of shame - that's me realizing that I'm celebrating outsmarting a TWO-YEAR-OLD, which, really, should be a lot easier than it usually is.


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