Last weekend my husband had to exit the room after an argument with our strong-willed daughter over ranch dressing. I knew that we had reached a new low. My regularly patient, Pre-School Teacher husband had reached his breaking point. He spends his mornings in a classroom full of 3-year-olds and his afternoons with teens on the autistism spectrum. He is the pillar of fortitude. That day, however, he was bested by our strong willed toddler. Typically, he’s my rock as I spin out over every argument or disagreement with our tiny terrorist. But I guess everyone reaches their breaking point!?
From day one, the personality differences between our boy/girl twins could not have been more apparent. Our son is gentle and easy going. As with any 2-year-old, he has moments of insanity, but overall, he is eager to please in a way that his sister is not. He is very sweet and inclusive of others.
Our daughter LOVES to be contradictory. She thrives on doing the opposite of what is asked. After being naughty, she’ll grin at you with the satisfaction of what she has done. She gets set in her routines and preferences and there is no reasoning with her (with the exception of an occasional candy bribe).
For example, she carries her posse of stuffed animals up and down the stairs every trip refusing any assistance. God forbid if one animal is missing, then all hell breaks loose. She’ll throw a fit if you try to help her get dressed, even if it takes 20 minutes to find the right leg holes. She rejects going #2 on the potty, even though she’s been potty trained for months. Yes, holding your poop is a form of control which our daughter has mastered. She acts out at home by hitting and biting her brother, but most disheartening, is her inability to apologize.
Okay, I know what you are thinking….every 2-year-old old is demanding and stubborn! To a degree I’d say you are right, but having a twin sibling to compare her to really highlights her bad behavior. Okay, I know what else you are going to say….stop comparing your twins to one another!!! Again, I’d agree, that sounds great in theory, but as any twin mom can attest is not always so easy.
To make matters worse, my daughter is a daddy’s girl like no other. I try to tuck her in, “NO, DADDY!” I try to change her, “NO, DADDY!” I try to wash her hair in the tub, “NO, DADDY!” Everyone tells me that it’s common for the opposite gendered child to gravitate to the opposite gendered parent, but it doesn’t make those moments of rejection suck any less! It is especially aggravating when we have under five minutes to leave the house and she won’t let me touch her!
Another layer is my own guilt over how I handle her tantrums. “You know that she’s playing you?” my husband loves to say. I know that he’s right. Through my lack of patience, I buy into her madness, and reinforce her bad behavior. It’s so much easier to give her the lollipop after 20 minutes of crying, than listen to her carry on! I try to distract her and focus her attention on something else, but her mind is like a steel trap. She never forgets!
There are moments, however, when her determination brings her to new heights…like the time she climbed an 8 foot ladder on her own, in the gym, when boys twice her age were afraid to. Her strong will makes her fearless, eager to prove to herself and everyone around that she is capable!
It also brings me joy to think of her as a grown adult. As a child I was NOT this tough at all! I’ve always been a people-pleaser, even at a very young age. I find it hard to say no or stick up for myself. Hopefully our daughter will never have that problem!
I like to fantasize about her as an adult taking charge and leading revolutions! She will fight for her rights and never back down! One day her determination and grit will take her to great places! Heck, maybe her tenacity and strength is even supposed to teach me something about myself? Maybe having such a strong-willed daughter will help me grow in a way that I have yet to fully understand? Ask me again during her teenage years!
So much is unknown as I reflect on our future with this tough little girl. But as of today, her mom is just trying to make it through mealtime without another meltdown!
Photo of my strong-willed sass monster for reference.