Miss M is currently in that stage where she loves to please us. When we provide instructions and she carries them out to perfection, she revels in the attention and nearly begs for a new challenge to commence. It’s a beautiful stage. I’m shopping online for big girl panties so we can fully capitalize. 

H Boy has clearly moved out of that stage. 
Yesterday the near-meltdown came when he wanted to take the little tires off of his magic school bus. Husband asked him not to as we would likely only be able to find 2, or at the most, 3 of the tires within 10 minutes. But hell hath no fury in comparison to a two-year-old bent on a mission. 
This came after an episode involving a breakfast fiasco. It was 9:30am and we were on power struggle number 3. Have I mentioned how much I love parenting? How convenient it is? 
But Husband and I had to ask the questions of ourselves, seeing as how H’s existential capabilities are few and far between, about our role in the struggle. Just because we can use proper English grammar does not make us the automatic winners of the struggles. 
The conclusion we came to was… did it matter if we lost the bus tires? Will his childhood be wrecked if he were to own a toy with less than perfect resale value? We decided that the opportunity to learn how fake tires go on and off the bus was probably of more value than trying to a) fight it out and b) convince him the bus was a great toy as-is. Because, really, it’s just a bus. Aside from the removable tires there’s little flash nor flair. 
I say this like some sort of parenting professional, but it’s really really hard for me to live this conclusion. To just make the mess, to give up on keeping things tidy, to lose the tire, to risk breaking the X, Y or Z. In all honesty, it’s much easier to have robotic children that listen to your every command, but robots lack something in the creativity category. Come later in life, robots are really only good at taking orders, they’ll just switch masters. While I can sit back and say that I don’t want to raise robots for someone else to order around, in the same breath from the other side of my mouth I say I want children who listen and mind their parents. 
Clearly I’ve read too many parenting articles and books. I want my children to question authority until I am that authority. I want my children to be creative and innovative and live outside the box. Until coloring outside the lines looks too messy on my refrigerator. I want to value the arts until I can’t stand the squeal coming from the school-issued recorder or saxophone or, heaven forbid, DRUMS. Or the glitter. Can I value the arts and hate glitter? 
I understand that this stage of life is less about the kids and more about how I respond. I can see the world through the eyes of an uptight 30-year-old or I can enjoy the privilege of seeing as a two-nearly-three-year-old, colored by the opportunities for adventure and exploration. This might be the only way to truly find out life’s big questions: how many ways can you play with a piece of string? What does melted crayon taste like? Which is the best medium for drawing a landscape: ketchup or ranch? If I didn’t have a curious kiddo, I might never know. So rather than preventing such wisdom from escaping in the world, I need to read up on just how to endure these explorations without loosing my mind, or my carpet (who puts in WHITE carpet?!). Or perhaps I should just start saving for new hardwoods… 
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