On Monday mornings, a friend takes the Madness to preschool along with her own kiddo. I do pick up. It’s a perfect, simple collaboration. This morning, I pull Mad’s booster from my car and we run around the front yard a bit waiting for other-mom to show up. When she does, it’s with the perfectly innocuous surprise that her kid has a booster of his own, now, and the Madness can just ride in the extra car seat still in the backseat. This is how that goes:
The Madness backs up a step. Then another. If she knew swear words, she would use them. Her eyebrows lower, the bottom lip comes out. The wall is up.
“Madz,” I start in, doing my best impression of someone with hope, “It’s exactly like your car seat. Same color even!” And it is. We still have her old seat in our ride so we can drag extra kids around on occasion. This is the same seat.
She looks at me like I’m an idiot and, of course, I am. She’s three. Reasoning with her is like negotiating with a terrorist – my needs are meaningless and, ultimately, she’s just gonna destroy something. I try threats – no TV show after school. She doesn’t care. No dessert after dinner. She’s unimpressed. Her needs are simple, and I am failing to meet them. So she does the only reasonable thing – she turns and runs in the opposite direction, screaming bloody murder and refusing to go to school ever again.
Other-mom, meanwhile, takes out the old car-seat and puts in the stupid booster. Madz skips back to the car like nothing happened and I rethink my stance on corporal punishment. Parenting, it sometimes seems, is just a series of losing battles. Fighting with a toddler – even when you win, you lose.