Toys strewn across the room. Smashed pieces of bread in the carpet. TV blaring what seems to be an endless loop of Dora the Explorer. The refrigerator door half-open, and a small, red-faced toddler laying in front of it screaming and writhing on the floor. This is my battle ground. I am winning so far (I think, although it is hard to be sure). She wanted cookies. I firmly said, “No, It is time for dinner.” She wanted water; no, NOT in a sippy cup, no…not the Cars cup…noooo… mommy I want milk! Now her milk sits, waiting for her on the dinner table. She didn`t want to sit in her usual seat, not with the high chair tray on (I mean, really mom!)..but when I attempted to place her in the now tray-less seat, she screamed and exclaimed, “I hate my seat” (and I discovered that she knows the word “hate”).
Life with a strong-willed two-year-old is pretty much hell on earth sometimes. It is like living in a war zone; never knowing when the next attack will come and what will incite it. Any parent of a preschooler has their own arsenal of techniques that they use to get them through the daily battles: from feigning deafness (“What? I can’t hear you when you are screaming!” is one that I use often), to Supernanny tactics (although my kid couldn’t care less if she had to sit in the “naughty corner”), to outright ignoring (hmmm..where’s Kailyn? Oh well I guess I will eat her dinner..). But I’ve got a weapon that I pull out in only the most intense situations: hysterical laughter.
It isn’t really my choice as much as it is a reaction. I think I just get so overwhelmed that I need to either cry, scream or laugh and I usually end up breaking out into peals of uncontrollable laughter when my daughter is at her worst. It usually just makes her angrier (and I suppose I would feel the same way if someone laughed in my face when I got upset), but every once in a while it is exactly what we both need.
The other night, as our dinner battle ensued, it happened. I burst out laughing as she began her high-pitched screaming routine. And instead of commencing tantrum phase two (falling to the floor and rolling around under the table), she stopped, and burst out laughing too. Soon, we were all laughing hysterically, and the moment had passed.
So yeah, I momfess…I laugh at my kid when she’s upset. It might not be the most appropriate response to seeing my child in anguish, but if it helps me to keep even an ounce of sanity, I’m going to stick with it. Anyway, all’s fair in love and war…right?