Our sweet little baby is heavy in the tantrum phase* and the other night, at approximately 3:30am, she was so angry that by jumping and screaming she gained enough momentum to hurl herself out of her crib, landing headfirst on our hardwood floor. (We assume our downstairs neighbor, who hates us, was too tired to get out of bed and bang her ceiling in protest. It was quite the thud, following by quite the boom boom boom of her scared father running to help her.)

So while I’ve been trying to teach and mold and shape our little girl from the very beginning, the need for discipline is now fully upon us. Levi and I differ in our approaches. He thinks we should do what we can to make her happy; happy babies grow up to be happy people. “Levi, she has refused to eat anything all day. Please don’t give her an entire piece of cake.”

“Oh, but she’ll love it,” he says as he hands her a spoon.

“Levi, she knows that if she cries, you’ll give her whatever she wants.”

“But she’s crying,” he says. He’s confused by my comment.

I, on the other hand, think we should do what we can to teach her control. “Rebecca,” he says, “she’s just a baby.”

“Oh she knows,” I say. “She knows exactly what she’s doing.”

He gives her the pacifier. I take it away.

How, we both wonder, are we supposed to do this? I find myself looking to Victorian children’s literature for a clue, like the story “The New Mother” wherein two naughty children are threatened with a new mother if they don’t improve their ways. Of course, they don’t improve, and get a new mother with—hold your breath—a glass eye and a wooden tale that clanked as she walked.

Levi can do what he’d like, but I’m going to start telling Adelaide stories that scare her into submission. I think she’s too young to appreciate the full impact of what I’m saying (she only responds to buzz words like “night night” or “cheese”) but I figure I can use her youth to hone my own story-telling skills.

My pediatrician has been on me to take her off the bottle. I think I may start there. “Oh it was just awful what happened to those babies,” I’ll say. “Lock-jaw, every single one of them. That’s not even the worst of it. Their tongues forked. Like little snakes. People screamed when they saw them. I don’t know why those babies were so opposed to the sippy cup…”

I’m on the hunt for just a handful of good stories. Stories that might help me

  • get her coat on
  • get her to sit in her stroller
  • get her to eat dinner
  • get her to sit in her carseat
  • only messy her diaper when Levi is home
  • say “please” and “thank you” at the appropriate turns
  • sleep in
  • those sorts of things

            I figure if you can write a talk for Lisa, surely you can help us raise a child?

*It is a phase, right?