So firstly, full disclosure: I've been in bed with a stomach bug since Sunday, with one child watching Busytown on one half of my computer screen and the other breastfeeding and Eug just trying to keep us all alive.
In this haze, I read this article that received a lot of attention, and a lot of comments. I read a lot of the comments. The basic gist of the article is that a mom had a tantruming child in the grocery store and got told off by some rude guy, and the article is telling that rude guy off. I'm in total agreement. I hate getting advice from strangers. Hate it.
But what stood out to me was the general orientation of the article and the comments: that your children are insane creatures who will destroy you if you let them. The framing is "they will take more and more and more if you let them". Although the blogger was saying that the tantrum was not a reason to judge the parent (I agree), I think he still sortof went with the general idea of crazy children make crazy requests and it's impossible.
This is an orientation I came into parenting with, and it didn't serve me well. My situation is different from yours, my kids are different from yours, so the best thing for our children is different. But taking Noah's perspective has made so much difference to me. I remember struggling to strap Noah into the car seat as he freaked out and and said he didn't want to leave my parent's and deciding that I would never use force with him again, unless to push him out of the way of an oncoming large vehicle.
Being small is really hard. People treat you badly a lot of the time. They tell you what to do, touch you without permission, and tell what you can and can't have, and even laugh at you. My brave 3 year old went up to the children's worker at the Two Ocean's Aquarium to ask if crafts would start, and you know what the worker did? She started laughing at him and and poking him in the face with a pencil, and talking to him Xhosa, which she assumed he did not understand. To my shame, I was paralyzed and just ran up, glared at her, and took Noah by the hand. I don't think this is terribly unusual in the life of a small child.
A while ago we were really struggling to get Noah to go to sleep. It was a nightmare and we used words like "he's manipulating us" and had no idea what to do. We were sick of it. Noah was getting more and more sleep deprived as he tried to - indeed- manipulate us into giving him the attention he wanted at night. I think it is hard- I don't think we should pretend to be be superhuman and sacrifice our lifeblood for our children. But we realized it wasn't working to take a hard line. So we just gave him the attention he wanted at night. and over time, his bedtime got earlier and earlier, and he even said the words "I'm tired" once. For us, that's about as close to a miracle as it gets.
Now Eli, I am not sure what Eli will be like when he reaches two or so. He seems totally different. But the perspective of the child is what is often missing from the conversation.