Suburban Snapshots

Cops and Toddlers

Monday, August 23, 2010

After an unexpected series of events that may or may not have included a fever, headache, contractions, an emergency c-section, and one bouncing new baby boy four states away, Steve and I found ourselves in possession of Anna's cousin Lilly for an overnight stay.

The girls are mostly great together, and it's so much easier to manipulate Anna into pajamas or onto the potty when Lilly's just done it. Lilly, the youngest of three, is the most self-sufficient two-and-a-half year old I've ever met. When I woke up this morning she had coffee ready, was frying bacon and had let the dogs out. I might exaggerate, but she can dress herself, and I'm almost positive she knows how to drive.

We hit a little snag at bedtime, because for one, Lilly can reach a whole bunch of shit that Anna can't yet get to, so I had to basically re-childproof first Anna's room, then, the other two bedrooms Lilly kept bouncing in and out of like an episode of Fawlty Towers. Secondly, have you ever tried to get two over-stimulated toddler BFFs to bed simultaneously between requests for matching pajamas, sippy cups, and pillows? (I hear the collective laughter of the parents of multiples.)

If Steve were on duty alone, both girls would have been locked down in separate bedrooms with two gerbil-drops of water each, wearing whatever pajamas were easiest to wrestle them into, in the pitch dark. Steve is very practical in these matters, very Bad Cop. In contrast, I spent ten minutes digging through Anna's pajama drawer to find two sets of pink feeties with similar material and pattern, washed clumped milk out of an Elmo sippy to create a pair, set up the portable DVD player on Anna's dresser and snuggled two little girls into her twin bed with similarly fuzzy pillows and a couple of silky blankets. I was optimistic, victorious, even. Until the wailing started.

Lilly ended up in my office/guest room only after I'd surveyed all of the pricey electronics she could get her sticky fingers on, strangle-hazard cords and pointy corners. I put a DVD on one of my computers, fetched her a snack when she asked (listened for choking noises outside the door, retrieved the snack, closed door again), and returned to the living room to exasperated glares from Bad Cop.

But not for long. Anna stirred and I obliged her request for back tickles and one more book. Finally, at ten minutes to ten, they were asleep.

In writing this out, I see the many ways in which I am a pushover. I am most often Good Cop, relenting to demands for juice at bedtime, snuggles, back tickles and contraband snacks. Sometimes it's just easier than arguing, other times I just don't care to be a hard ass. Despite our reversed-role household (I work and earn full-time, Steve is an at-home-dad most days), we fall into the traditional gender assignments for Good and Bad Cop. Growing up my mom was always Good Cop, her "maybe" never meant no. I suppose it could be genetic.

Does your household have a Good and Bad Cop? Does it create balance, or is BC continually feeling undermined? Who wears the badge in your family?

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