Elsa has developed quite an interesting streak in her personality. A few adjectives come to mind to describe it. Feisty. Spirited. Fiery. Spunky. Strong-Willed.
Which all basically mean the same thing: Little Beyyatch.
I'm not sure where she inherited this from. I'm certainly none of those things (shut-up, Jeff...I see you smirking). My mother, in her eternal Pollyanna, Rose-Colored-Glasses perspective, loves to tell me what a good baby I was, how easy and laid-back and sweet, and how I could hang out in a play-pen entertaining myself for hours...and hours....
Looking back, I can see that I probably had no choice. Maybe it's not that I was an easy baby, but came to learn at a very young age that I couldn't compete with my (at the time) four siblings, so I'd better figure out a way to entertain myself. To this day I still try to find patterns in carpeting when I'm in a waiting room or standing in line somewhere.
Anyway, the other day I introduced Elsa to her new toothbrush. I figured I better start taking care of her teeth, since she's using them so much, and for so many different purposes (see post Beware of Baby). I sat her up on the bathroom counter and she watched with great interest as Rollie applied toothpaste to his own brush, stuck his brush in his mouth and wiggled it around for a few minutes, spitting every other second (since I've put the fear of God in him about the hazards of swallowing his toothpaste....I'm not even sure exactly what it does, but as far as he's concerned, swallowing his toothpaste will most likely awaken the hungry lion currently residing in his bedroom closet).
I squirted some training toothpaste onto Elsa's pink toothbrush and held in in front of her mouth, which she eagerly opened for me. But as soon as I tried to brush her little fangs, she reached for the brush, ready to take over.
"No, no, Baby Els," I said. "Let Mommy do it first."
Still she grabbed for the toothbrush, bobbing around as she tried to wrestle it from my grip.
"Elsa," I warned, "you need to let me do it."
She started kicking her legs in protest, sending the soap dispenser and hand towels into the sink, where Rollie's foamy spit was still collecting in the drain.
"What's Baby Elsa doing?" Rollie asked.
"She's being naughty," I told him as I tried to force the toothbrush into her mouth. "Let me brush your teeth, Elsa."
"Are you going to put her in time out?" he asked.
I tried to hold her head still in the crook of my arm, and that's when she really got mad. Side Note: Only wedge your child's head in the crook of your arm as a last resort, when all other measures of attempted force-obedience have failed, and only when you're prepared to handle a full-blown, appendage-flailing temper tantrum.
She started screaming, kicking, flapping her arms and biting the toothbrush so hard she yanked it out of my hand with her mouth. Even Rollie, who up until this point had held the title as the Tantrum King, hopped from his stool and fled the bathroom.
"Elsa, stop it," I said. "If you don't let me do it, your teeth are going to rot out of your head." Why I was trying to reason with a one-year-old in the throes of a hissy fit, I couldn't tell you. Sometimes I forget that my children's capacity for logic rivals that of a sea cucumber.
She looked up at me with angry blue eyes and screamed.
"Just walk away from her," Jeff's voice floated down the hall like some omniscient Supernanny. And even though I was mentally rolling my eyes at his calm, unflappable demeanor, I did as he suggested. I set Elsa down on the floor of the hallway and walked around the corner, her screaming at me all the way.
A few days later, I caught her dropping food from her high chair tray onto the floor. Our dog, who has been hanging out beneath the high chair since Rollie was a baby, was gorging himself on pieces of banana, Cheerios, and goldfish crackers.
"No throwing food, Elsa," I said.
She looked up at me, hung her arm over the side of her chair, and opened her chubby fingers, dropping another piece of banana on the ground.
"Elsa," I walked over to her chair and looked her in the eye. "No. Throwing. Food."
Not breaking my gaze, Elsa picked up a goldfish cracker between her fingers and brought it to the edge of her tray.
"Don't you drop that," I said.
Still watching me, she let go of the goldfish, where it landed in my dog's greedy mouth.
"That's it," I grabbed the tray and removed it from the high chair seat. "No more food for you."
Once she realized what I was doing, Elsa screamed and grabbed for the tray, giving it a yank and sending more food to the ground.
"You little sh-" I almost, almost said it. This close to calling my 13-month-old daughter a little shit. Fabulous.
She screamed again.
"What's Baby Elsa doing?" Rollie asked from the couch.
"Are you going to put her in time out?" He sounded hopeful this time, like he was excited at the prospect that he wasn't the one in trouble for a change.
I looked at her, her face encrusted with crumbs and banana goo, her hair sticking up everywhere, her mouth open in what I could swear was an attempt to challenge me, to say Go ahead, Mom--put me in time out. I dare you.
"Yes, I am." I picked her up and put her in the Time Out corner, a toyless, windowless void in the dining room, where she could scream and kick to her heart's delight. Which she did. With impressive ferocity.
Well, at least she inherited my wavy hair....