These days it is all about choice.

“Would you like juice or milk?”
“Fork or spoon?”
“Bunny pajamas or Sheep?”
“No bubbles or bubbles in the tub?”

I have learned in asking these questions that Caroline most often chooses the last option given, so I have been easily able to give her a sense of control while completely manipulating the situation. “Juice or milk?” often results in Milk. If I sense a pending meltdown I quickly offer a choice of SOMETHING and most times the whirling tornado of toddler doom dissipates and even smiles back at me.

It was warm last night with the heat of the day lingering and a storm front moving in. Caroline chose her pajamas from those grouped together for warmer weather and she was delighted in her choice; the Ariel nightgown from her birthday in February. Caroline was so excited about this little aqua dress and kept telling me over and over “Ariel!” I even convinced her to brush her teeth by showing “mommy how Ariel does it.” With those two-year molars inching their way in as slowly as they possibly can, tooth brushing is an evening disagreement involving tears and a creative girl who finds new ways to block that toothbrush with each passing day.

When I went to check on her at bedtime she was still wearing her diaper (that’s a post for another day) and she looked like such a little girl, almost out of place in her crib. She’s nearly two and a half now and while I know she can’t stay in a crib forever, we certainly won’t be making that transition tomorrow. Seeing her there in her nightgown, a hat of sweaty curls around her head, George covered up in a blanket beside her... she just seemed so much more grown up than I tend to realize as her mother.

Tuesday morning brought pelting rain on the windows and clapping thunder, which was a blessing since I had completely forgot to set the alarm. I retrieved Princess Caroline/Ariel from her bed and set out to get her dressed for the day only to have to work my way through a tremendous meltdown because “MY DRESS!!!” Even choice of pants and sneakers could not quell these tears because she wanted nothing to do with taking off that dress. I explained that it was raining out and she needed to wear play clothes to school today. I placed “Ariel” over her doorknob with a promise that she could put her back on as soon as she got home from school today and yet the sobbing on my shoulder continued. It broke my mommy heart to have to break hers. I considered letting her keep the dress on because what would the harm be really, but a loud thunder clap reminded me it was pouring rain and today she would need to be appropriately dressed. Whispers that we should go wake up daddy calmed her down, but she needed a good dose of cuddling before she was ready to go have breakfast.

I fully expect that as soon as she gets home today Caroline will be stripping off her play clothes for “Ariel.” That girl has a memory on her that I find alternatively amazing and frustrating. Just one mention of something can be recalled hours later and either we are astounded by her recall or suddenly find ourselves watching select chapters of Sleeping Beauty again. When exactly will my own free will to make choices return?


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