Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine Was A Saint, Right?

What is it about holidays that invites kids to behave badly?

While Valentine's Day is not a major holiday at our house, I woke up yesterday with a sense of happiness and eagerness for the day to begin. I had plans for some fun desserts to take to my mom's house (more on that later), sweet little gifts for the girls, some goodies for Justin, and hopes for a joyful day.

I got Mia's breakfast table set up with all the cards she had gotten from Aunts and Grandmas over the past week, along with the little stuffed animal and fruit snacks I got her for a gift. I thought - since it was a special day - she could be allowed fruit snacks after breakfast as a treat. We almost never have these in the house, so she was ecstatic.

As the day went on, the special treatment continued. Justin and I were both fairly lazy...letting Mia watch TV and movies much more than we usually do. She continued to get her way, almost with everything she asked, because it was Valentines Day! A day to show love! By the time lunch rolled around, Mia was on top of the world...with mommy and daddy firmly wrapped around her little finger.

Only then did I remember what I had forgotten about 'special' days: When given a few inches of special treatment on a holiday, Mia will gladly take a mile.

She started throwing fits when she didn't get to have her way. Lunch was a nightmare, with her frowning and speaking rudely whenever we encouraged her to eat. Her behavior wasn't a total disaster, but any time we dared to tell her 'no,' it wasn't pretty. She got several time-outs and when the day was finally over, Justin and I both felt like we'd been through the ringer.

After all, we reasoned, she is three years old. A three year old usually isn't so hard to reason with...she should know better by now. Right?

But that's where we got off track, I think.

We should have been remembering that while she is three years old now, she's still got a toddler's relatively unreasonable mind. I shouldn't have woken up with some illusory vision of a magical day, just because it was a holiday. Mia doesn't know the difference between one day and the next, usually, so I shouldn't have placed such high expectations on her little shoulders. (It was only Valentine's Day, for the love of pity, why should it be that much different from most other days?) I shouldn't have expected her to know that one treat doesn't lead to all treats.

This is a lesson she's still learning. And yesterday, while not the most perfect day as far as behavior went, was a wonderful opportunity for her to learn. Because she is still a baby in some ways, she can't remember far enough back to all the holidays she's been through. But because she's growing up so quickly, she'll start remembering now.

I should start remembering too, and not let the day get so out of hand just because I'm expecting a tiny girl to live up to my idea of the perfect holiday. She'll be the same girl on Valentine's Day as she is on any normal Saturday in February. I need to appreciate her for what she is - a precious gift needing our guidance every day, with no time off for holidays. A sweet girl who doesn't ever expect me to be anything other than myself.

Unless I start forking over the sweets...then all bets are off.

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