You don’t need a licence, but there is a fine if you do it wrong

Her wide grin shows her gappy baby teeth, but her eyes can’t quite match the carefree childhood picture she is trying to portray. Her eyes are trying but the steel of her willfullness shows through.

“Veronica, put your head on your pillow. It is time for sleeping.”

She straightens her back and widens her self-aware smile. Do I have to do this again?

Yes I do. And I do. Two-Three-Four more times.

“Veronica, I am going to have to take blanky away.” This worked last night. I took blanky away and she lay down.

This time she held her smile.

“Really? I have to go there?” I took all her animals away. This cracks her.

“You’re not listening! You are a bad girl!” Her hands flail out and hit me in the eye.


She’s not done. “You’re a botter beetle!”

I know “bad girl” is a terrible insult in her four year old world. Botter beetle–she made that one up. So it has a slippery definition.

“Veronica, do not hit me! And don’t call me names. You have to lay down. I am your mommy and I know better than you. You need to sleep!”

My eye is throbbing, but her head is on the pillow at last.

Now comes the next campaign: “Mommy I’m thirsty.”

“No you are not.”

“Yes I am! I am THIRSTY!”

There are a set of things in this arsenal. Needing a drink, needing to go to the bathroom, needing a bandaid, being hungry and being scared.

They all sound so reasonable.

But I am being PLAYED.

I know it.

She knows it.

And she knows she is winning.

Remember that thing I told her? “I am your mommy and I know better than you.”


And in between the mother-daughter standoff, there is the retreat to the locker-room/living-room where I go have a standoff with my husband.

“Why don’t you let me help?”


..and we spend all our conversation trying to analyze and strategize the next nights encounter.

“…it’s that she really is scared of the dark..”
“…we need to…”

I am fantasizing about work trips. And how I need to kill my husband.


I finally get that out there….I dig my heels in and let loose with the it’s-time-to-get-mad-or-we’re-never-going-to-fix-this argument.

It’s all fine and good to talk about the complementary styles of men and women. When we are at a nice restaurant, our clothes smooth and quiet music playing as we swirl our stemware.

“ahhaha! oh, you are so funny and charming with your secondary sexual characteristics.Lean a little closer so I can smell you…”

About the time I can smell myself is the time I don’t want to have to deal with a MALE way of thinking. Just do it my way before I ask, and everything I say is the right way and I am so freaking clever to have thought of it and you should kiss my feet because I am so wonderful and amazing.


I need to sleep. I need to not have an argument with someone.

Because I am losing.

It is ironic that in this femme-on-femme interaction, me and the daughter are very clenched and fierce and stubborn. But Daddy? He’s a marshmallow. Maybe that smile I see through still works on him

That’s what pretty can do I guess.

I say to Chris what he’s taught me “We need escalation dominance! If she keeps having the most powerful action, we can’t win.”

He says ” I am worried that she will be hungry if she doesn’t eat enough dinner.”

Daddy is the nurturing one? That’s not how the textbooks read.

Parenting. You don’t need a license, but there is a fine if you do it wrong.


Yesterday we did it. We had the strategy meeting. We came up with a plan. Bribe her.

ten dimes, three rules

1. Keep your head on your pillow

2. Be quiet and still

3. Do what mommy and daddy tell you

If you do that all night, you get to keep those ten dimes (TREASURE!) and put them in your beloved piggy bank

(not mentioned is that we will take away a dime for every infraction. Don’t want to give her ideas. We had a big discussion about what to do if we went past ten and had nothing left to take)

We told her the game. She was excited.

She went to bed.

Not a peep. She has a new game to play other than “make mommy do what I say.”

Chris and I even got to sit on the couch and watch 1/3 of a movie. SIMULTANEOUSLY.

OH GOD, let it work again tomorrow