Choices.

**FYI, we have not received THE CALL. I’m pretty sure this is not our month to be matched with a kiddo. I know of at least one other family who received a referral last week. I’m really OK with it. Will collect my thoughts and process more fully later this week when we know with 100% certainty.**

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We have a consistent struggle in this house that just might be the death of me. I’m pretty sure it’s completely age appropriate, and is only a phase, but my adorable little Birdie is right smack in the middle of this particular phase. So what’s a mother to do? Blog about it, of course! If I can’t figure out my own problems, at least I should let others in on the ridiculousness so we can laugh together, right? That’s rhetorical. Unless you agree with me, in which case, feel free to answer outloud.

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It’s the issue of CHOICES. You know THEY SAY that you should give toddlers and preschoolers lots and lots of choices. THEY SAY it helps them feel like they have a little control in this cruel world run by grown-ups. “Would you like the blue cup or the green cup?” “Do you want to wear jeans or khakis?” THEY SAY that you should only offer two choices, and give them 10 seconds, after which time, you will make a choice for them. THEY seem to think that if you have to make the choice for the child enough times, that the child will learn more efficient decision-making skills. THEY might be mistaken.

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Miss Syd has SO MUCH TROUBLE making choices. She labors over decisions until I absolutely force her hand, and then she inevitably regrets the decision and wants to change. And change again. She focuses so much on the option that doesn’t “win” that she basically mourns it. Let me just replay to you a couple situations to explain the frustration.

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Scenario 1: After lunch, the kids get to choose one sweet. In our freezer right now, we have fruit popsicles, little mini-peppermint-patties, or choco chips (they can get 7 in a cup as an option). Every day, Sydney requests to be HELD in front of the OPEN freezer. “I CHOOSE,” she says clearly. Last week, in a rare display of decisiveness, she chose a peppermint pattie. She did not have her feet on the ground before she changed it again to a popsicle. I told her if she gave me the peppermint pattie she could trade for a popsicle. She clinched it tighter and said NO. So I closed the freezer and walked away. I am not exaggerating, when I say that Sydney followed me around the house for upwards of 50 minutes, crying dramatically, saying in her own little language,”You TOLD me I could have a popsicle!!” To which I replied about a zillion times, “I told you you could CHOOSE a popsicle OR a chocolate mint. You can only have ONE.” Cue: more hysterics, more moaning the word “Pop! Sicle!” and the little chocolate mint being crushed and smashed and melted beyond recognition or attractiveness in a little tiny hand. The next day, I thought I had learned my lesson, so I set the three sweets options on the table so I wouldn’t have to stand holding a wiggly Birdie in front of the freezer. I thought SHE had learned her lesson because she chose a popsicle (only after 15 seconds when I started putting them away, of course.) But about 5 bites into the sicle, she came back, held it out to me and said with sticky, wet, red lips, “I want chocolate.” I explained that she had chosen a popsicle and eaten most of it, so she could not change her mind. You’ll never guess what happened! Oh wait–yes you will. She fell on the floor crying, getting her sticky popsicle all over her shirt, her face, her hair and the floor. She did not recover in time to even enjoy the rest of her popsicle, because I finally had to remove it from the crime scene before causing any more damage. She fell asleep in her crib a heart-broken, sticky mess.

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Scenario #2: It’s a lazy Saturday morning and Daddy is going to run to the store. Don’t even remember which store, but Carson decides he’ll go along. Sydney seems interested, and even gets her shoes on with intent, but at the last minute, she wants to stay home with Mommy. She watches closely as the boys get their coats, but still says she’ll stay with me. But when the door from the house to the garage closes, she full-on panics. “I want go with Daddy!” she says urgently. As the car starts, I grab her coat and run out to the garage to catch them and put her in her car seat. I came back inside and hear the van leave and the garage door close. About 90 seconds later, there’s a knock on the front door. Daddy is holding a sobbing girl, who is reaching for me like I’ve left her for hours, saying she wants to stay with Mommy. 🙁 Sweet girl! Of course I grab her and take her to the couch and start to snuggle. You just can’t fault a girl for wanting to be with her Mommy, right? Until, out our window, we see the mini-van pull out of the driveway (for the second time) and drive down the street. She leaps out of my arms and bolts straight to the front door, screaming for Daddy. She stayed by that door crying for over 20 minutes. Sigh.

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Poor girl. I really try to keep my patience, because it turns out that counting to 10 makes her panic. Raising my voice in desperation? Also not helpful. I’m determined to stand my ground, limit the choices and follow through with the time limit. She’s GOT to figure this out, right? I just don’t want her having nightmares of her mother standing over with an angry face, saying “DORA OR NEMO, SYDNEY? DORA OR NEMO?! MAKE A DECISION!” And it may not be my number one parenting strategy, but delaying her therapy sessions as long as possible is a goal of mine.