Sometimes I forget I have a kid. You know, like you forget the cat is around. Or you forget you aren’t wearing pants. Since she’s always there, I can sometimes merge her into my environment. Until she spills something, which is pretty often.
I am fully aware intellectually that she’s not just an extension of myself, but coming out of the baby years when she was so literally attached to me, it’s hard to shed the operating assumption that she is me and I am her. What I am feeling, cold/hungry/tired/sick, she probably feels too and when she’s cold/hungry/tired/sick, I’m probably feeling that way too.
But she’s getting all person-y on me. It creeps up on you. It’s been steadily happening, but you get a major system upgrade I think when they turn 2. She has opinions. Preferences. Strong ones. Suddenly simple things are a negotiation. I can usually get into her head and find a way to convince her to do what I need her to do, but not always. When I fail, it’s usually because I’m thinking that she feels how I feel.
Wrong. She’s a lot less tired than me.
There’s the usual “I don’t want to leave the playground yet” stuff and the “I don’t want to put on my shoes” stuff that all kids do. There’s the usual “I want YOU to give me a bath, not Dada” and the “This is not the cup I wanted” moments. Sometimes her motivation is obvious, sometimes it’s a total mystery. I’m a pretty capricious person, I know that, and I have my own strong preferences. But I can’t always see what her triggers or motivations are, I can only try to put myself in her place. It works… but less and less effectively than it used to.
So as we go along, I get to know the person she’s deciding to be. Which is a lovely way of saying “who are you and what have you done with my baby?”
But every so often, without even projecting, she looks up and says “cocoa” and I say “I was thinking the same thing!” And we are on the same page again.