The Daughter Chronicles

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The power struggle

For the past few weeks, ever since she became much more mobile, Norah has engaged in the power struggle. It started on the floor, when she realized that she was able to roll places she could not previously go. The one place she wanted to go more than anyplace else, of course, was into Mia's personal space! After all, Mia might have a toy that Norah absolutely, positively needed to play with at that very instant! So she would roll over and take the toy. Mia would then seize it back. Norah would usually then give her a look that can best be translated by using some street lingo:

"Oh, it's on, bee-yatch!"

The power struggle so far has been relatively benign. Norah looks all offended if Mia takes her toy back, but she really can't do anything about it - Mia is much stronger than she is, even though Mia only uses one hand. However, Norah does something that annoys Mia - pulls on Mia's hair. Norah will roll on over to Mia and grab a fistful of hair. At first Mia looks vaguely amused by this, but then she realizes that Norah is not letting go and her kung fu grip is getting stronger. By this time Daddy has usually intervened, but I keep telling both of them that they need to play nice because one day Daddy might not be around, and then there could be problems.

Recently, the power struggle has moved over to the dinner table. Mia sits happily in her chair, occasionally eating on her own, occasionally causing nothing but trouble because she wants to be fed like the baby. Norah is desperate to feed herself, but she has yet to master the physics of the spoon, so we deny her that pleasure. Krys bought little fruit puff snacks, and we give those to Norah to improve her pincer movement. Mia, of course, wants them the instant we give them to Norah. So we give some to Mia, but that's not good enough - she specifically wants the ones we gave to Norah. Oh well - they sit on her tray until she grudgingly starts picking them up.

Usually Norah is done eating before Krys, so the wife gets her out of her chair and plops her on her lap. This brings Norah into the orbit of Mia's chair, and that's when the power struggle really takes off. Norah reaches out for the fruit puffs on Mia's tray, even though she had plenty on her own but didn't want them anymore. Mia, of course, will not stand for such effrontery, and immediately tries to claw the snacks out of Norah's hand. Norah becomes petulant whenever Krys tries to pull her back from the tray, and she strains to reach it and the wonderful forbidden booty thereupon. This continues until Krys decides that both children are finished eating. I have nothing to do with it. I feed them breakfast and lunch and allow them very little freedom. When Mommy comes home it's like they've been liberated from a food prison. The freedom of food flies! Woo-hoo!

We expect the power struggle to continue for, well, the rest of their lives. Isn't that always the way? Mia will continue to be strong, but Norah is on the verge of crawling, and therefore will soon be much speedier than Mia. Then the power struggle will renew in earnest, and Daddy and Mommy will be forced into more arbitration than they expect. I'll probably just send them both to their rooms. That's the American Way, after all!


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