A theme has developed as part of our ever-changing family dynamic. My wife is the one who administers the medicine while our daughter squirms like an otter. She also seems to be the one blowing baby’s nose, cutting nails, and wrestling to get her curly hair into bunches, which look super-cute by the way.
To avoid any further punishments and discomfort, she toddles to me as fast as her chubby little legs will carry her. In her eyes, I’m the Good Cop.
This doesn’t seem fair and I know my wife isn’t loving being the Bad Cop of the house.
So there’s two options. The first is to find more opportunities to be the person who holds the wriggliest toddler in the world and give her the medicine that she so clearly hates, or to learn how to do her hair in cute little styles.
The other option is to turn her down when she comes to me as the relief option. I already help with the medicine and am always telling her to “get down off that table”, “you can’t eat that”, and “no colouring the walls”.
There is, after thinking about it, a third option. We work as a team and face the difficult everyday tasks together. A unified voice against unwanted art on the walls of our rented basement suite, and become a multi-armed parental unit when it comes to the medicine. I’ll take the arms while my wife gets the syringe to squirt baby Tylenol in our daughter’s mouth.
A clear set of boundaries will give a sense of balance between my wife and I, while giving our daughter a clear understanding that we both there to support her, but keep her in line, and at the same time trying our best to avoid injury and make sure any colds and flu symptoms are kept at bay.
The final issue is that my wife is a stay-at-home parent, so the majority of both the good cop and bad cop duties fall on her. I get up early to get ready for work and take care of our daughter before leaving for work. I only get a few hours at home with them both before bedtime, so I’ve missed most of the opportunities to discipline and to have the snuggles.
I think what it comes down to is that my wife is better at it than I am. I know that it’s my job to help wherever I can, so I do. I get up early so she doesn’t have to, I put baby to bed (whenever our daughter will let me), and continue to work on the never-ending laundry and washing up.
We’re a team, and we’re trying our best to divide and conquer. Every day is a new challenge and there’s always something new that baby wants to do that terrifies me or makes me laugh to tears.
One day she’ll understand that her parents know best, even when they’re just winging it.