We have hit two particularly important and irritating developmental stages at my house. My 17 month old son has discovered the power of "mine!" Or, as he says it, "MIIIINNNNNNE!!!!" Everything is his - stuff he played with 10 minutes ago, stuff he played with last week, stuff he has never played with, and stuff he wants to play with tomorrow. He is fully subscribing to the Toddler's Rules of Possession, except for the last one. He would probably still say it was his even if it was broken.
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.
It also apparently applies to my things as well. In the last two weeks, he has claimed the following items are his: my computer, my car, a corkscrew, the lawnmower, the remote control, one of my black high heels, my cell phone, all of my case books from law school (frankly, he could have those, except for the fact that they each weigh at least 15 pounds and he always drops them on his feet), my hair, and a box of tampons he found in the bathroom cabinet. Lovely, really.
As for my daughter, she has moved into the "Why?" stage, which is only slightly less irritating than the "mine" stage. Here's the dilemma with the "why" stuff - I don't want to discourage her inquisitiveness or curiosity. I want her to grow up to be the type of young adult who questions things. I want her to ask why things are the way they are and maybe try to change them. But, at two and a half, some of the why questions are driving me crazy.
For example, we went to the zoo on Saturday. When we walked in at 3:30, the cashier said, "You have plenty of time to see the zoo before we close at 5 (yeah, no kidding), but you need to start outside and end inside because we close the inside part last." No problem, except for my daughter wanted to see the meerkats first, which are at the beginning on the inside.
Me: Come on, babe, let's see the animals outside first and then we'll come back and see the meerkats.
Me: Because the outside zoo closes first and we want to see all of the animals outside before it closes.
Me: Because we want to see all of the animals, right?
Me: Because we like all of the animals.
Me: Because we share the Earth with them.
Well, that shut her up for awhile. But then we went the petting zoo and had to wash our hands afterwards.
Me: Okay, babe, let's wash our hands with lots of soap.
Me: Because we touched the animals and we need to wash the dirt off.
Me: Because the animals might have germs that could make us sick.
Now, I'm stumped. I have talked myself into a corner where I either have to explain germ theory to my two and a half year old or give her one of those answers I hated as a kid - "Because I said so" or "Just because" or "I don't know why, just do it." Or I could just not answer her but then I would get, "But why, mama? But why?" for 15 minutes until I went crazy. Or, I suppose I could just make something up . . . but then I fear she will remember only the silliness I made up and not the real answer when she gets old enough. UGH!
It reminds me of the scene in Big Daddy where Adam Sandler is trying to get to McDonalds before they stop serving breakfast and the kid stops to talk to Steve Buscemi as a homeless person. I'm paraphrasing:
Kid: Why are you on the street, mister?
Steve: [gives reasons]
Kid: But why?
Steve: Well, in retrospect, I made some really bad decisions.
Kid: But why?
Adam: Listen, I'll bring you an egg mcmuffin if you end the conversation.
Steve: [falls asleep]
Adam: Look, look, he fell asleep.
Maybe I should just pretend to fall asleep when I can't answer the questions. Somehow, I don't think she'd buy it.
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