A lesson in every line

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My baby sitter, who has known me my entire life, gives me "that look" when I tell her about something mindblowingly stubborn that Nikki did.

"Who is she?" I often wonder about that little 3-year-old who used to be so cuddly and accommodating.

The baby sitter doesn't agree that Nikki is just going through a stage. She thinks Nikki has come into her inheritance.

I think there's no way I could've ever been stubborn to that degree. I'm pretty sure that if I'd even thought about it, I would've been winked out of existence by a frustrated parent who always stuck to her guns.

But I grew up in a different, less lenient time.

Nikki wanted Froot Loops, so ... I got her Froot Loops. I evidently didn't do it right, because she immediately burst into tears.

Daddy sat with her in the chair and handed her the bowl.

That, too, was wrong.

She got off Daddy's lap, walked over and put the bowl back on the counter. Then she tried to drag him over to the counter.

Evidently, what she needed was someone to hand the bowl to her -- even though she could reach them and Daddy already had tried to hand them to her.

It just wasn't exactly right. She grabbed my hand and tried to drag me over. Even as I said, "Pick them up yourself," she was placing my hand on the bowl.

I gave her more chances than I should have to pick up the bowl herself before pouring the cereal back into the box and sending her -- bawling -- to the corner.

When she finally calmed down and was released from her punishment, her first request was for more cereal. But I stuck to my guns and told her no.

Nikki is the type of girl who will put her coat back on if you unzipped instead of letting her do it. She will climb back into the car if you lifted her out when she wanted to jump and will go back into a room, close the door and reopen it if you shut it. This morning, I took off her hat and she cried until I put it back on her. Then she walked over to Grandma and asked her to take off her hat.

I tell you, I've never seen anyone more stubborn and I'm not sure what to do about it.

It's nice to see someone who knows her own mind, but allowing her to use it isn't always feasible.

I'm aware that it's important to her that I put the spoon next to the bowl instead of in it, but we have to be gone in three minutes, so I refuse to start the process again just so she has it as she likes it.

Seeing the tears in Nikki's eyes when I told her she'd lost her shot at a snack and hearing the breathless sobs broke my heart.

And broke her spirit.

She spent the rest of the night in my arms trying to control her breathing while I sat there wondering about lines.

Why is it so important that you stick? Why not cross a line to avoid tears and heartbreak?

Lately I've noticed that Nikki isn't quite so adamant about having her own way. She's still got a wide stubborn streak, but she's learning to recognize the look that tells her she's nearing the line.

And that's why you draw line and stick to your guns -- no matter how those sobs cut right through your soul.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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