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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

August 30th, 2006

I think Casey and I are going to have to venture into the dreaded realm of “talking about discipline” in regards to Kenny. My Happiest Baby Ever is starting to think that Mommy’s mad face is a funny one, and that the N-word (that is, “No”) is something more of a challenge or a test of wills than the law of the land.

He’s also starting to get into a pattern of staying happy as a clam as long as we are doing exactly what he wants to do, playing with what he wants to play with, in the room he wants to be in. Alter any of the parameters, and a red-faced little munchkin with a very loud scolding, “Neh neh neh neh!” complete with pointed finger and screwed eyebrows, emerges.

Where on earth did he learn that? He didn’t see it on TV because we don’t watch TV in front of him, save for my occasional Food Network fix when I can’t decide what to make for dinner, and the total of 10 times that I’ve turned on either Baby Einstein or Sesame Street while he’s in the playpen so I can take a shower. (Seriously, it’s truly been about ten times in the whole year that the little guy has been alive!) We certainly don’t scold each other like that. He doesn’t have any older siblings to show him, nor is he in any kind of daycare where he’s exposed to the disciplinary shenanigans of other kids. Could it be that he learned it from Dudley? I know – I’m possibly giving our weimaraner too much credit here, but Dudley is a bit unusual to say the least. In fact, many are the days that I’m quite certain I’m going to arrive home unexpectedly early from an absence and find him either scrambling up some eggs for a snack, or kicking back in the easy chair, one paw around a young, pretty boxer, smoking a camel and pouring out his heart about the injustices of playing second banana to a 22 pound human boy.

Back to the discipline, my main issue is that I am so in love with that kid, my heart melts when he smiles and breaks when he wails. I know, all you seasoned Mommies out there are rolling your eyes and itching to tell me all about the rebel-nightmare he’s going to turn into if I don’t start ruling the roost now. But he’s not even One, yet! How aware is he of the riot he’s causing? Is he even capable of manipulation at this stage in his cranial development?

More likely, he’s just now becoming aware of his preferences, and that if he wants to get what he wants, he has to fight for it. It’s a big world out there, people. The little guy doesn’t have a whole lot of rights – no say in getting dragged to the grocery store for the third time in one week, no negotiation regarding why he always has to ride backwards in the car, no defense when Mommy says, “Time to go!” after only 20 minutes of crawling wild in the play area at the mall. Isn’t it natural that he will voice his opinion where he can? Is it bad to let him win sometimes?

Seriously, I do work to maintain at least some sense of sanity in our household – Kenny doesn’t really run the show. If I let him, he’d spend the day crawling into the cabinet where we keep the Raid, banging butcher knives against the pots and pans instead of wooden spoons, and only eating food that had been taste-tested by Dudley first. He’d never have to sleep, he could eat all his meals off the floor, and he would have already lost at least one finger by insisting on playing Dentist with Dudley. His crib wouldn’t have rails, the stairs wouldn’t have gates, and he would regularly re-test gravity by diving headfirst off of whatever piece of furniture I’m holding him on.

Come to think of it, I’m doing pretty well by enforcing my reign in the castle here. Now if I could only figure out how to get Dudley to make me breakfast.

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