I’d been feeling pretty proud. On Monday I talked my daughter down from a red alert tantrum and then on Tuesday I got her to eat a three-syllable vegetable. Mid week at the grocery store I convinced her that she was not actually going to die if she didn’t get to open a bag of goldfish crackers “right now, oh Mommy NOW,” and then on Friday I skillfully navigated my way through a no-nap day.

By the weekend I was strutting around saying things like, “I’ve really got this kid down.”

But then something started to happen. It was strange and disturbing. My daughter began to reveal that she had gotten a bead on me, too. All this time she’d been systematically logging my weaknesses, noting the flaws in my logic, and finding the loopholes in my mandates. Without letting on, she had discovered my Achilles heel and amassed an arsenal of little invisible arrows. Suddenly she started firing them at random and taking me out.

On Monday, she somehow convinced me to give her ice cream by skillfully leveraging my own affection for this frozen treat.

“You love ice cream,” she reminded me. “You love chocolate.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “I do.”

“You should have chocolate,” she encouraged.

“Yes, I should,” now resolved to go get a scoop.

But when I returned she immediately commandeered the cone.

“Oh Mommy, I will share this with you, because you love ice cream.”

“Wait… what is going on…I thought this was mine,” but it was already too late.

Midweek she managed to avoid finishing lunch by tapping into my neurosis.

“Sage you need to eat a few more bites,” I said.

“What Mommy?” she responded.

“Bites.” I repeated, “I need you to eat them.”

“Huh…”

“Bites of your sandwich. That thing made of bread that you have barely touched. How about you have some.”

“What?” she persisted?

“Can you hear me?” I asked, now growing concerned.

“Huh?”

“Are your ears okay? Do you have water in there? Should I call the doctor?”

And suddenly I was so distracted by hear ears that I found myself automatically clearing her plate and dumping it’s contents into the sink.

Then at the end of the week she craftily manipulated my inner feminist.

She was in the tub with a friend and was having trouble sharing the many ducks and boats and plastic cups that bobbed under the faucet.

“Mine!” she kept shrieking each time he reached for a toy.

“Sage,” I calmly said. “When we have friends over we share. These are not yours. These are ours. Everything here is OURS!”

She looked me dead in the eyes and rose defiantly out of the water with her arms extended like a gymnast who had just stuck a landing.

“This body is mine,” she said, gesturing to her torso. “My head, my eyes, my heart, my hands.”

I sank into the floor mat ashamed that I had somehow managed to imply that her physical being was a shared commodity.

“Yes,” I agreed. “Those things are definitely yours.”

I took the weekend to recover.

Next week I’ll start afresh. I’ll learn from my two-year-old. I’ll take notes. I’ll dig deeper into my bag of tricks.

On Monday I’ll be back on top.

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