I negotiate with my daughter all the time. Not too much, but daily life is daily life, and as my toddler parenting book puts it, a winning toddler compromise is where they get 90 percent and you get 10 percent.
What about toddlers in the wild?
I can handle your average sandbox confrontation. You know, we have to go, that is our shovel.
But what do I do with the girl who stands at the daycare gate and refuses to let me pass? Or the kids who sprint out the gate the moment you open it, no teacher in sight?
It is all complicated by language of course. I usually understand toddler Swedish, but not always, and, more importantly, I am not sure that I understand it. And if I do understand it, can I speak to them in the right way, with the right tone?
I end up using a lot of gestures and sounds and facial expressions, which makes me expressive for Sweden, so they usually end up liking me, even as I am slamming that gate in their face.
But sometimes, you just lose.
The other day we went to a playground near us. There was no one in sight. But there was a Frisbee on the ground. Cool! I don’t see Frisbees much here. I picked it up and spun it on my finger. I called out to E that, hey, I found a Frisbee! I got ready to throw it to NK.
“Hey! That is mine!” yelled a very loud but very insistent voice. From out of nowhere came a little girl in a pink jacket, very angry, pointing at the Frisbee. “Mine. Mine.”
What could I do? I handed it over, muttering to myself, and went to play in the sandbox with our own toys.
Now I want a Frisbee. Dumb girl.