Penelope is in bed. It sounds like she’s howling. Maybe she’s playing with her bedtime toys or imagining life as a wild animal. Perhaps it’s a declaration to Jenn and I. “I AM AWAKE. HEAR ME HOWL!”
That’s our girl.
Not a few months ago. So much has changed.
The girl in the same crib a few months ago would snuggle into her blanket, asking mommy or daddy to “tuck it in”, meaning wrap her up like a burrito so tight none of her toddler goodness would come tumbling out. A few months ago Penelope had a shred of reserve at home. Today she runs up and down the hall. She screams with delight. She says “thank you” when we put food on her plate.
But more than anything she says “no” to everything we ask or tell her to do.
Pro-blogger and single daddy Dan Pearce wrote a timely piece detailing his strategy when his son says “no”. I’m not sure Jenn or I can count the number of times Penelope says “no” in a single day. Certainly more than we have fingers or toes between us. We may not even have enough paws to reach the total. I was skeptical when I read the first few lines. Thankfully my curiosity compelled me to keep reading. And find myself trying exactly what Dan recommends.
To my delight he is on to something. I’ll give you an example.
Every night we read to Penelope. Tonight Jenn told me picking books would be easy because Penelope had chosen them earlier in the day. “Great!” I thought, “that will save us 10 minutes off the nightly routine.” I got through the little Paddington Bear book with ease. On to Sandra Boynton’s “Horns to Toes”. Penelope’s interest had tanked and she was rummaging through the bookshelf.
“Sweetie, we can either read the books you already picked out or we can go right to bed. Which one do you want to do?”
“No daddy, no.”
“Which one is it sweetie? Bed time or reading time?”
“Ok. Then come over here so we can read.”
Reading commenced with great joy and funny voices followed by the laughter Jenn and I love. On to the last book, Boynton’s “The Going To Bed Book”.
“ME READ!” Penelope said.
Every time she says this it tears me up. I want to encourage her and say “Yeah sweetie, you read it! That’s great!” Instead I tell her “No sweetie, mommy or daddy will read it.” A sliver of paranoia that her ability to read will be delayed because we are discouraging her from reading.
Time to make a decision. Do we let her take the book, sit down, and play indefinitely or give her a choice?
We give her a choice.
“Well sweetie, either mommy can read it or you can go to bed. It’s your choice.”
That’s when Penelope throws out a wildcard. “Daddy read it!”
Jenn looks over at me and hands me the book.
That’s our girl.