I was slow to wake up from the fog that was Brayden's sophisticated behavior modification program. It took me a while to recognize the signs, but my sweet angel was slowly exerting mind control over me on par with a Jedi master.
I'm pretty sure all parents can relate to what I'm talking about. The moment when your small child is firmly instructing you to stop, move, stand up, sit down and do (or don't do) whatever his little dictator-like heart desires. And you listen to him.
I finally made my realization breakthrough a couple weeks ago during bedtime in Brayden's room. I was sitting quietly (as instructed) on the footstool facing him while he sat in the rocking chair drinking his nightly cocoa. But the worst part was that this wasn't the first time this had happened, it had been underway for more than a week and had become our new nightly routine.
Here's how it would play out:
Brayden: "Mommy, sit here."
(Brayden points to the footstool. Mommy sits down.)
Brayden: "Brayden sit on chair."
(Brayden crawls onto the rocking chair and starts to drink his cocoa. Mommy starts to sing a song.)
Brayden: "Mommy no sing! No! Quiet, Mommy."
(Mommy stops singing and sits quietly until Brayden finishes his drink and indicates he is ready to be placed in his crib.)
Being a single parent, I don't have anyone to take photos of these totally odd moments so my friend Sara suggested I illustrate Brayden's Mommy training sessions with stick figure drawings. Since we've more than established in this blog that I have zero artistic ability, I hope you can appreciate my effort (and can overlook the fact Brayden is sitting on a transparent 3D chair and I'm levitating).
It wasn’t just the bedtime routine though. During snack times, Brayden would allow (and I do mean allow) me to open the refrigerator door for him but only because he isn’t strong enough yet. Then he would tell me, “Brayden do it. Mommy leave. Go.” And he’d shoo me away with a flourish of his hand. This was his way of saying, “I’m doing this for myself, and you are instructed to remove yourself from the area until further notice.” And, again, I would do it! As if this wasn’t enough, the situation evolved into me opening the door and then immediately walking away without needing to be told like a well-trained servant.
So, to go back to the bedtime routine story, there I was sitting on the footstool one night when the haze lifted and I went, “Waaaiiittt a minute…what’s going on here?” Brayden knew the gig was up the minute I told him, "No, Mommy is not going to sit here. Mommy is going to do bedtime with Brayden," and I cuddled up next to him on the chair. And like any toddler who realizes his little boundary pushing experiment is over and his Mama is no longer a big lump of malleable mental clay, he said, "OK, Mommy. I love you."
Needless to say, I will no longer underestimate the brilliant little mastermind down the hall who is clearly capable of world domination...or at least serious parental conditioning.