I’ve been repeating directions to Isabelle a lot lately. For instance, “You may clean up your books.” 30 seconds later when nothing has transpired, “Please pick up your books.” A minute later, “Let’s clean up your books.” Ridiculous! This morning I had it with myself and decided that today was going to be the day I’d stop repeating directions and making multiple requests since saying it several times wasn’t working. (After all, I’ve taught fourth and fifth graders! The rule of the game in my classroom was “Listen to instructions the first time they’re given.” That was going to start happening around here too.)
The first test of my new resolve came after a morning shower. I put Isabelle’s diaper on and covered her with Cerave. Once her hair was done it was time to get dressed. I picked out clothes from her room and brought them back to my bedroom. “Let’s get dressed,” I said.
“No!” she uttered. (Can you say toddler?)
“Mommy’s going to put your undershirt on you now.” And I did.
“I’m going to put your shirt on next.” And I did.
“You may stand up so I can put your jeans on,” I commanded. She did. And then she ran across the room sans pants.
“You may come back here to get your jeans on,” I said. And then I stopped and stared at her. She stared back at me from across the room. Don’t say another word, Stacey. Just keep looking at her.
And I did. For two minutes. Those two minutes seemed like two hours as we faced-off.
Every now and then during those two minutes I’d tap the carpet with one finger. Isabelle would look down and do nothing.
Suddenly, she broke my gaze and walked over to me.
I put those jeans on her like it was nobody’s business.
And then she went back to reading her books.
I have no idea what’s next, but I know I’m going to give her a command once. Just once. And wait.