Monday, November 2, 2009

The Transfer of Power

We are going through an interesting stage with Claire. She has discovered that she can make decisions. She lets us know what she wants. She also lets us know when she doesn't like something (ohhh, that scream can pulverize nerves!). I realize the power struggle has only begun.

As a new mom, I have no prior experience with handing over the power. I have thus enjoyed my control of every physical act of parenthood. I feed Claire her food. I make sure she is clean. I get Claire dressed when I want and in what I want. I give and I take away.

So it was with great trepidation that I gave up control and placed it in the tender palm of my 10 1/2 month old at breakfast time two days ago. What, you might be wondering, was so frightening? I handed over a spoon. Benign on the surface. But the implications were monumental.

Claire, for the first time, wielded the power to make a monumental mess, of both herself and her surroundings. I sat in anticipation on the edge of my chair. I have seen the pictures. We have all seen the pictures. Shots of little tykes with food mashed in their hair. In their high chairs. On the walls. On other furniture. Frankly, they make my skin crawl. And there I was, having just passed the torch on to my infant.

She looked at that bowl of yogurt on her tray. Then her eyes looked up at my face. They passed from the bowl to me one more time. A grin slowly appeared as she realized what was taking place. She hesitated. I uttered a "go on!", not sure if it was encouragement for her, or encouragement for me to NOT rescind my offer.

What happened next? She picked up the spoon and put it in her mouth. WHAT??? Are you kidding me? All this fear for nothing? Sure the spoon hit her on the face a few times before it actually made it into her mouth. Okay, so it was also upside down and half of it had fallen on her jammies. But she made it into her mouth. (Wow--giving her a spoon to play with occasionally really worked!) I had to help her get the yogurt on the spoon, but otherwise she did great. Until she decided that the spoon was too cumbersome and thought it would be more fun to eat it with her fingers.







That's when I decided to help her finish. I'm not ready to give up all the control. Not yet anyway. And she was happy to let me help her. For the time being...

5 comments:

Glenda said...

I love her to bits...and your observation is right on concerning the power process. Perhaps, her initial response is an indication of what she will be like when given the power in the future. Perhaps, it just won't be much of a struggle. Just look at that smile!
PS: Love that my daughters are such great essayists--makes for wonderful reading!

Beth said...

That is funny. You know what works well giving her an extra spoon. It gives them the illusion that they are in control but you still have power. Rori still tries to use her fingers for everything even though I give her silverware at meals.

hooli said...

Oh happy day. I mean sad day. I mean, I know what you mean. It's so hard to let go of control.

Erin H. said...

Why worry about food in the hair? You have a detachable spray nozzle in your shower, don't you? Hose 'er down!

laurel said...

How funny! You wrote this perfectly. All my kids refused to be fed or to use a spoon. They all used their hands. I remember feeling frustrated like they were just giving me more to clean up, like you I understand now (a little late for me) that this was easy control to give up. We miss you all. Maylin asked to play with Claire just yesterday. She wanted to have a sleep over.

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