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November 4, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
As many meltdowns, undesirable episodes and whine fests that occur at my house on a weekly basis (and that's just among the adults, not to mention the 3-1/2-year-old!), I have come to truly appreciate the little victories.

I witnessed one such victory yesterday morning. It started out dismally, as most battles do, with the munchkin refusing to pick a sweater to wear and the grown-up gnashing her teeth.

I had succeeded in getting a shirt and socks on her so far. But Emma wanted to play with her stuffed bunnies, and I wanted to stuff her arms into a sweater, any sweater! But instead I sing-songed, "Go ahead, Sweetie, pick one." I held out the fuzzy blue cardigan with the rainbows on it and the new polka-dotted fleece pullover.

"NO!" she yelled as she crossed her arms over her chest and put her nose in the air. "I'M NOT GETTING DRESSED. I'm NOT picking one, Mommy!"

In a calm voice, I explained it was time to get dressed. In return, I got a brush thrown in my general direction.

"That's it, young lady! You're in time out!" I picked her up and sat her on her bed, muttering something unmentionable under my breath and giving her "the look" that my father was famous for. Disapproval dripped from my chin and oozed from my eyesockets and nose. There was no mistaking it; I was not happy.

My daughter tempted fate, however, as she is wont to do. She stood up, bounced on her bottom and catapulted off the bed.

"Oh, no you don't!" I picked the 40-pound dead weight off the floor and put her back on the bed. "You are in BIG trouble, Emma, and you are about to get in even BIGGER trouble!"

This was it. It was the battle's climax. And I was totally bluffing. My thoughts raced -- what was my next move? What defined "BIGGER trouble"??!!

But I only had to worry for a second, because that's when it happened. Emma's face turned beat red. She clenched her jaw. Her fists balled up. Her eyes shone in fury. Then, a switch flipped. She took a deep breath, then another, then another. On the fourth breath, she plopped down on the bed. She sat there, silent, for a few seconds, as her face turned a normal color again.

Inside, I was doing a little victory dance, but I remained stony faced and told her it was time to apologize. She said, "Sorry, Mama, for throwing that brush at you."

I was ecstatic at her newfound ability to defuse the tantrum bomb, and I think she was proud, too.

I hugged her, and she put on her sweater. The blue fuzzy one with the rainbows on it.


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