I'm about to throw myself off some kind building. I had to do tea-time on my own tonight. Not a fan of that. This is because The Toddler chooses the evening meal to showcase the very best of her being-a-total-pain-in-the-arse skills.
I can't even go into it all, because I have no wine to help me through the ordeal of re-living it. But it can basically be summarised thus: I ask The Toddler to sit and eat her tea nicely instead of messing about, she ignores me. I promise rewards if she eats her tea nicely and stops messing about, she ignores me. I try and praise her in the brief moments she eats her tea nicely and stops messing about, she ignores me. I tell her very sternly to eat her tea and stop messing about, she ignores me. I make some half-arsed threats about taking her tea away if she doesn't eat nicely and stop messing about, she eats nicely for about 5 seconds, then messes about. I chew on my lips to stop myself from bursting out with a yell of "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHILD EAT YOUR TEA AND STOP MESSING ABOUT BEFORE I THROW SOMETHING!!", she obliviously waves a piece of carrot in the air.
I'm feeling very ineffectual right now. I'm no good at this kind of thing. I have no idea how you're meant to go about trying to encourage a wilful toddler to do what you tell them to. This might surprise some people that know me (and particularly the people that have worked with me and have been told off for not completing their paperwork properly), but it turns out that I am not one of life's disciplinarians. I'm too lazy, and the most of the battles just don't seem worth fighting. And I'm never sure how much of toddler behaviour is mischief, and how much is normal high spirits and curiosity, and I don't want to stamp on the latter.
I can't go the other way either: the very fluffy style of parenting where it's all about being positive reinforcement and all that jazz. I can't keep my fake smile on for that long. I lack the patience, the energy, and the general perkiness this requires. I don't think it would work on The Toddler anyway. As my mother is fond of saying "She's not a pleaser!". She's right. The Toddler does what she feels like doing, whether I think it's a good thing or not. I am lucky that she seems to generally want to be fairly well-behaved, because when she doesn't, I am at a total loss.
So my strategy right now is to put it all down to her age, and hope that one day she will magically grow out of it and start listening to me, making a few lame and ineffective efforts to try and tell her to stop doing my head in. I know some of it's going in. I frequently hear her telling The Littl'un to "listen-a me. I talking to you. Listen. That's not nice". A few more sleepless nights and fraught mealtimes, and my addled brain is going to start believing that she's taking the piss.