Sticker shock

After two difficult, frustrating, tears-inducing mornings of battling with Lily (more specifics coming in another post), I got an unexpected break yesterday morning – suggesting that perhaps the universe responds when you desperately need a moment of grace.

It’s comforting to think that, anyway.

We read books yesterday morning, which was wonderful (she’s getting very into Curious George stories just now), but then she came across a sheet with more than 100 small, white circular stickers with numbers on them. She pointed at specific stickers and sweetly (saying “peez!”) asked me to get them off for her. I did, and she began planting them in a long stripe up the leg of her capri pants, as well as on her leg.

Huh. OK. Not what I would have done, but then again, I’m not two.

She continued to do this on her other leg, and I wondered: should I have cut this off from the get-go? Said “No, don’t do that”? It’s always a judgment call with these bizarre, spontaneous toddler notions. The bottom-line test for me is always, if she’s not hurting herself or anyone else, and she’s not damaging anything, I’ll indulge her in these passing whims.

But as she plastered her legs and pants with 50 stickers – and I’m not exaggerating, since the stickers were numbered and she went through half the page before her enthusiasm flagged – I wondered about the endgame. Would I take her to daycare as is, and let them deal with peeling these little circles off? Would I try to take them off myself, which would be sure to set Lily off on a fit? (Toddlers are primal little humans, and the moment they want something passionately, beyond all reason, is the moment someone else threatens to take it away.) Would I just hope that the wind would just blow them off her legs during our walk to daycare, leaving a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail of white circles in our wake?

As I pondered this, Lily studied her disposable body art, then began peeling the stickers off, one by one, by herself.

I hadn’t said a word, but she kept at it with the same level of engagement with which she’d stuck them on, singing the alphabet and sticking the now-less-than-sticky circles on the floor in the shape of a long snake. She even asked me to help with the last ones, which I was more than happy to do.

I couldn’t believe my luck. Here I was scrambling for a solution, none of them ideal, when she simply changed course and took care of it herself.

Maybe there’s something to be said for dithering while mothering – or at the very least, giving your kid some space to let her freak flag fly. Sometimes, of her own volition, she’ll bring the flag down for the night all on her own.

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