Double Trouble, My Two Mini Forces to Be Reckoned With

28 Dec

“I think this one will be more obedient for you than Lucia,” Arturo suggested about Khalil, my nine month old baby. I laughed maniacally in response.

Not that Lucia is particularly disobedient, but she is one determined child. She is pretty clear about what she wants in any given moment. At 3, she’s capable of sitting and working on something over and over and over and over and over again until she’s got it totally down, preferably in one day if possible. Like when someone gave her an alphabet puzzle at age 2, she made someone sit down with her about 15 times a day to do it every single day until the pieces were torn up, just because she was interested, even though the alphabet still meant nothing to her.

She’s also willing to do just about anything to get her way if you are keeping her from doing something by herself that she’s sure she can do, even if you’re sure she can’t yet, or if it’s too dangerous to risk. Going down steep stairs in Juquila this week, for example, she screams, “You don’t go! You don’t help me!” Sorry, kiddo, you’re gonna keep losing this battle for a while. Or we come up with elaborate compromises, like, “You can brush your teeth by yourself first, and then I’ll do it for you at night. And you can do it by yourself in the morning.”

Then there are all the things that she theoretically wants to do by herself but it’s still a bit too overwhelming for her. She wants to pick out her own clothes, but there are often just too many options in the drawer for her to manage. Thus I go and pick out her clothes, or I pick out maybe two options for her to chose from so she still feels all autonomous and such. But then half the time she doesn’t want either of the options I’ve picked. “Not that one!” she yells, as if I’ve just kicked a helpless puppy. “Okay, but you asked me to pick out your clothes today, nena,” I remind her, trying to maintain my own calm, grown-up voice. “But you don’t pick that one!” she responds. “Okay, if you don’t like what I picked out, why don’t you pick out your clothes?” I suggest. “No!” she screams. “You pick out my clothes!” Like I’m totally shirking my mommy duties by suggesting she do something she normally likes to do herself. Crazy three year old logic!

Payback’s a mother, as my dad would say, if he weren’t using some other colorful word to describe it. The best and worst thing about having kids is all the ways in which they are just like you. I was a fiercely determined and independent child, adolescent, and… well, surprise! I am still a fiercely determined and independent adult, although thank goodness I’ve learned a bit of tact and tactics to compromise since my teen years.

Lucia is fierce, and thus far there is zero indication that Lucia’s little brother will be any different in his fierceness of will. If anything, he is looking like he’s going to be even more of a firecracker than my raging, shooting star of three year old willpower. Geez. Am I grateful? I suppose.

Being both grateful and frustrated, I have to say, I have been getting a kick out of seeing little Khalil go up against his grandmother and aunts here in Juquila. I don’t even have to put up any resistance to their demands, because Khalil does it all for me. They put a hat on his head and in .3 seconds he rips it back off, over and over again. “Don’t let him crawl around on that cold, hard floor!” they gasped at first. But there is no keeping Khalil in your arms when he is ready to get on the floor and play. He screams like a banshee and twists and turns and pushes off from you until you finally put him down, fearing that otherwise he’ll slip down for all his resistance.

His necessity to do what he wants is on par with a cat in heat’s level of necessity- it is a biological imperative; he wants to go, and he wants to go NOW. He is working on walking, and there is no stopping him from exploring and pulling up on everything. So then the women of Juquila changed their demand to, “Put him on the petate,” the straw bedmat. Bwahahaha, I laughed to myself maniacally, as he immediately crawled away from it, time and time again. He refuses to dress warmly enough for them, either. Last night he managed to get his socks off while sleeping, no less. He is his own smiling, clapping, adorable hurricane of determination.

This whole Khalil versus the abuela and tias and their folk beliefs situation is really, really fun for me. Payback may be ugly, but vindication is sweet. People in Juquila have been trying to impose their parenting styles and cultural rules on me since we arrived with seven week old Lucia. I gave in on a lot of things, especially since I was not living in my own place. For instance, Lucia never learned to crawl, and I still think it’s because nobody would ever let me give her free rein on the floor. I spent many a night bitterly restricted to the bedroom, alone with Lucia, instead of being in the kitchen or the doorway (where all the social activity was happening, where the cold was sure to harm that poor baby, according to people’s beliefs). Lucia’s first year of life in Juquila was a very tricky experiment of testing wills and culture clashes.

But did I mention that I am intensely determined to do things the way I think is best? I slowly developed polite ways to ignore people’s demands, pulling my foreigner card left and right. Already some folks have had to face up to the fact that I’ve been right about some parenting things. Seeing how well Lucia speaks both English and Spanish, for example, has forced people to admit that, gee, it’s not detrimental for me to speak English to her.

Now, with baby number two, I’ve gotten a lot more expert about insisting on Conan’s and my parenting happening instead of all the things that helpful in-laws just know are correct. It helps that we have our own house, although autonomy is not particularly respected as such. It helps that I am much more sure of myself as a parent, and much more sure of my place here, as a foreigner who’s now very adapted to where I live. But more than anything we are “winning” this one because Khalil refuses to be restrained! Hats? Hell, no! Socks? Not for long, suckers! Staying in one place? In your dreams, tias!

Of course this also means that Khalil doesn’t let me impose a whole lot of my will on him, either, which is a bit trying. Trying to change the diaper of a child who refuses to lie down- without poop flying everywhere- is a daily adventure. Between him and Lucia, we have our hands full and our patience tried, over and over and over. But it’s worth it. They’re my sweet, lovely, fierce little hurricanes of will. In the end, I hope they’ll become two polite, kind, not over-imposing but independent, determined grown people, and my vindication will keep being sweet.

khalil cute hurricane

the cutest little hurricane you ever did see (well, okay, according to me. I might be biased.)

lucia pre pre pre teen

My pre pre pre pre pre teen (aka THREE year old). Getting her attitude ready for adolescence. `Khalil about to make himself fall out of the swing in the background, of course. 

2 Responses to “Double Trouble, My Two Mini Forces to Be Reckoned With”

  1. juliainman December 29, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Lucia’s angst is only going to grow. Yes, what goes around, comes around. Sweet! And could Khalil the Adorable get any cuter or determined?

    • exiletomexico January 3, 2016 at 10:29 am #

      Oh, yeah, it is quite an adventure! Every. single. day. Hugs!

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