There is something that just seems fundamentally wrong about a mother deriving a sense of sick satisfaction out of pulling one over on their 18-month-old, but I must admit... When I outwit Monkey (or any of my other kiddos for that matter), I usually have to resist the urge to point, laugh, and taunt "Na-nee, Na-nee, Boo-BOOOO..." Childish? Perhaps. But I truly believe I am not alone.
Motherhood is like the ultimate game of "Survivor." Outwit. Outplay. Outlast. And (not to toot my own horn or anything) I think I am pretty darned good. I like to think that I am the Boston Rob of the MotherHood. Those toddlers don't know what hit them when Mimi's in charge! I'm always one step ahead, and can change my gameplay at the drop of a hat. I am that good. :-)
I have several "go-to" tactics that I don't mind sharing with my fellow sisters of the MotherHood. We need to stick together, or those little boogers just might band together and realize that they can take us down if they try hard enough.
- Out-crazy the Crazy - I love Booger Bear to death, but I swear that 4-year-old has got to be the biggest handful of any child I have ever encountered. He can be the sweetest, most loving little guy around, but look at him cross-eyed, and everything changes. Temper tantrums, argumentative, whiny, and outright mean! I dubbed him "Bipolar Baby" at 8-month-old, and his moods have only gotten worse. Over the years, I've tried lots of techniques with him, but my personal favorite when he's pitching his screaming fits is to "out-crazy the crazy." The first time I tried this was a year ago when Booger was carrying on like someone was killing him because I told him to put on his shoes. I threw myself down in the middle of the floor and pitched my own screaming fit to rival his. Booger stopped, mid-scream, looked at me like I'd lost my mind, and said in all seriousness, "Tammy, stop it. That's annoying." Oh, ya think? It's annoying when you do it too! Worked like a charm.
- Become a Magician - To me, one of the funniest sights to behold is the look on Monkey's face when an object that was present not two seconds before "disappears" in front of his very eyes. Mama is a magician. Out of all of my kiddos, Monkey has always been the one requires a little more "magic" when it comes to his toys. He has a toy truck that has been his "favorite" for nearly a year, but this particular truck has also caused him fits of frustration to the point of Mama having to hide it for a few hours before he loses his mind. Apparently Monkey wants this truck to do something that it just doesn't do, and he gets angry and hysterical over it. I pull the "Oh my goodness, Monkey! What is that over there?!?" move and immediately hide the thing when his back is turned. His most recent favorite activity has been to throw his ball pit up in the air, scattering balls everywhere, and then kicking them all over the house. The look of confusion on his face the morning after I hid the ball pit was priceless. :-)
- Utilize "The Look" - We have an expression in our family. An expression that was perfected by my Great Grandma and has been utilized by every woman since. It is "The Look." When my kids are misbehaving to the point of me wanting to strangle them, I pull out "The Look" and stare them down. Words are unnecessary as "The Look" speaks for itself. Works. Every. Time. I remember the first time I used "The Look" on Angel... She proceeded to tell everyone who would listen that she never wanted to see me get that look again. Apparently "The Look" means business. Although I have to admit it might be backfiring on me a bit with Monkey. He has taken to attempting to butter me up by giving me his most adorable sweet smile when he sees that I have pulled "The Look" out of my Mama Arsenal. He might actually have my number on this one.
- Never Underestimate Your Opponent - Oh sure... They look all sweet and innocent... Like they couldn't possibly ever try to pull one over on the grown-ups... But believe me, those little boogers will try every trick in the book in an attempt to outsmart the big people, and if they can use their adorable looks in the process they'll definitely do so! Toddlers are a whole lot smarter than they look, and they will eat you alive if you underestimate them! I study my opponents carefully when they don't know I'm looking. You can just see the wheels turning in their heads as they come up with their plans. At 17-months-old, Booger Bear used to try to barter "Barney" time with me. I would tell him "You can listen to the song one more time," to which he would reply by holding up two fingers and saying, "two." At 18-months, Monkey is learning that age old game of playing his parents off of each other. "If Mama says 'no,' ask Daddy!" And all of the kids have done that "watch the grown up out of the corner of your eye while you're playing with something you're not supposed to have and then stand up and hand it to them saying "trash" when you get caught" thing. Monkey even goes as far as adding "Good Boy!" as he hands me the "trash." :-)
- Hone Up on Your Super-Spy Powers - Cell phone stalking, army crawling to avoid detection, alarms that sound when a person exits the home, enlisting the aid of "informants" disguised as teachers, stay-at-home neighbors, relatives, etc. I've done it all.
But perhaps my best piece of advice when it comes to outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting the tiny people is this: Let them think they are smarter than you. They'll get sloppy and will sit dazed and confused every single time you get the better of them. It's hilarious to watch! :-)
Stay strong, sisters of the MotherHood!
Just like in "The Hunger Games," only one will survive... May the odds be ever in your favor!