Parenting a Toddler: a Mommy’s Lament

I’m sitting here frustrated–both with myself and with Sophia… I’m thinking about how easy it is to parent without intention, say instead with reaction or instinct.  I’ve had a few “situations” with Sophia lately.  She’s long past entered the “no” phase, often shaking her head “no” when she knows she’s not supposed to do something.  Sometimes she’s been downright defiant.  She’s only 14-months old!  I didn’t know this would happen so quickly.

Our biggest struggles are the trashcan and food on the high chair.  Trashcan: Sophia loves to bang on it, reach in and get stuff out, and even eat leftover food out of it.  If we are watching her, she will look at us, shake her head “no,” and continue one of the aforementioned actions.  An easy solution to the trashcan would be to get one with a lid and a foot-lever, or it would be to store it in a child-proofed cabinet… Instead, we’re trying to teach her to listen and obey.  Is she too early to learn that mommy said “no?”  Daddy generally says a firm no and picks her up and moves her.  Often, I’m cooking though, and this isn’t an easy task for me.  I’m inconvenienced, right?  The battle of parenting. Maybe, we should get a new trashcan and pick a different battle?

Food: during meals where she’s not too excited about her food, she’s started dropping food onto the floor–what all babies do, right?  She’s done this for a long time, but she now knows that she’s not supposed to.  Two days ago she dropped onto the floor, plate and all, a fresh piece of Mommy-made french toast.  My reaction was to ignore her and finish my breakfast.  When she wanted what I was eating, I told her, “No, you had your breakfast, but you chose to put it on the floor.  Now you have to wait until I’m done.”  She actually waited fairly patiently–i.e., she didn’t scream and tantrum for the next 5 minutes.  I think that it may have worked.  But, then there was yesterday.  Yesterday my reaction wasn’t so thoughtful and intentional… it was more, well, reactional.  During a snack-time at the table, she proceeded to throw cereal all over the kitchen.  I patiently told her, “Cereal stays on your tray or goes in your mouth.”  She looked directly at me, shook her head “no,” swiped her arms across the tray and threw cereal all over the floor.  Now, I know she was hungry!  She didn’t have much lunch and had just gotten up from a nap. She didn’t want the CEREAL!  Well, I snapped.  I picked up the tray, took her hand and smacked it–voice raised saying something like “We do NOT throw our food on the floor!”  Woah, did she get upset.  And, I smacked her hand!  She was defiant.  But, I smacked her hand... and because I was angry.  I could have just taken it away, told her she was done and given her nothing else to eat… But, what should I have done?  Her defiance is partly to blame on her inability to communicate “Mommy, I don’t want this cereal.  May I please have something else?”  Or at least, “Blueberries, please?”  She can’t even communicate, “I DON’T WANT THIS!  I DON’T EVEN WANT TO LOOK AT THIS!  GET IT OFF MY PLATE!!!!”  So, what’s a mom to do?  Guess, use non-verbal clues and past evidence of behavior… but, beyond that?

Sophia gets so upset when I’m upset.  When she would bite me while nursing and I would yelp out in pain, she was horrified, unable to be consoled for minutes later.  This morning something else happened.  I have a stack of books on a bookshelf that I plan to take to Hastings to get some dollas for.  She took one of the books, opened it and ripped the first page.  I was so angry!  All I could think was how this book can no longer be sold, and there went $5!  I took the book out of her hand and barked, “No, Sophia!  That’s Mommy’s book!  You ripped Mommy’s book!”  She immediately wailed.  She walked up to me with the saddest cry.  Arms are out and tears are pouring down her face.  Pouring. Watching these tears, I realized I yelled.  I realized that she didn’t know the difference between Mommy’s magazine and Mommy’s book that she’s planning to sell any day now… I realized I reacted out of anger, frustration and inconvenience.  I picked her up, and she laid her head on me, communicating a real “I’m sorry I made you mad at me… though I don’t know why…” It broke my heart.  I guess I didn’t know that parenting would be so gut-wrenching at 14-months.  I’m seeing my lack of patience.  I’m seeing my short fuse.  I’m seeing my easily inconvenienced spirit.  I just wish we could talk it out, ya know.  Just talk it out.  😉

The Search for the Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I am no chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, but I know what I like and don’t like… being pregnant makes me a little extra picky, of course… The thing is when I bake a chocolate chip cookie at home, I often think, “That’s pretty good, but it’s not as good as ______.” Mind you, I’m blaming the outcome on the recipe and not my cooking ability.  😉

Last night, after a few nights of enjoying home-baked, store bought, pre-cut cookie dough, I decided to take the effort of mixing up my own.  I chose this cook book: The KING ARTHUR FLOUR Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook.  I chose the recipe entitled “The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.”  I figured that in a cookbook such as this, the recipe entitled “The Essential….” would be well-researched and near have the claim “The Best Recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER!” The recipe was fairly interesting, and I was glad I had everything I needed in the cabinet.  It called for butter instead of shortening, and it called for vinegar and corn syrup… The vinegar was supposed to help cut the sweetness and help the cookie rise more.  The cookie was less sweet, but I didn’t appreciate the cookie’s rise.  I don’t know if I want my cookie to rise.  I changed the recipe only slightly, omitting corn syrup and adding a smidge of peanut butter… Overall, they turned out fairly tastey, though slightly cake-like and too tall.  And, well, it just wasn’t IT!

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Now, I’m on the search.  Where is the GREATEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE EVER?!

Here’s what I want out of the cookie: a little crispy, but moist and gooey, chewy in the center. Fairly thin but dense. I want sweet, but not overpoweringly sugary…  Is that asking too much?

So, I’m going to try some more recipes.  Do you think you have the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe, or at least one that you think I’d love?!  Email it to me, or post it in the comments here.  I’ll try it out and post the results here.

Also, do any of you baking experts know how I might achieve the results I want?  Like butter vs. shortening?