In the months before Rosie was born, Maggie went through a mid-toddler-life crisis.
Half the time, she was a big girl. She wanted to pick out her clothes and set the table and climb into the van by herself and take care of her baby doll, and be the boss of everyone. And she would announce it loudly; "I a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG girl," she'd say, standing up especially tall and puffing out her chest as she said it.
The other half of the time, she was NOT a big girl. She was a BABY. And she would tell us so, in those exact words. "I NOT a big girl, I a BABY. I BABY Maggie." She wanted to crawl and be "uppy" (picked up) and be rocked and sung to and snuggled in blankets and carried all over the dang house.
This was one of these parenting things that I wasn't really sure how to handle. Do I indulge the baby regression? Do I push for big girl behavior? What do all the Smart Moms do?
For awhile, I did both. Indulged the baby play (which yes, at times was annoying, but I sort of, maybe, really loved, because I also was going through a pre-birth emotional crisis about Maggie no longer being my baby), but acted super excited when she was a big girl.
And then, somehow, this game evolved:
Maggie would announce, for whatever reason, "No I a big girl, I a BABY!"
And I would say, "Oh, you're BABY Maggie?"
And she'd say, "Yah, I Baby Maggie."
And I'd say "Oh, Baby Maggie is so cute and cuddly! But, wait a minute... if you are Baby Maggie, then where is my Big Girl Maggie? Where did she go?? I love her! I will miss her so much!" And then, I'd fake-cry until Big Girl Maggie came back.
Kids love fake crying, FYI, and this became a favored game in our house for quite a while. I mean for WEEKS, we did this EVERY day, often SEVERAL times a day. Henry also liked it, and would occasionally ask out of the blue, "Hey Mags, are you a baby or a big girl right now?" trying to goad her into starting the game.
Now, I'm not sure exactly why, or exactly how, or even exactly when, but the whole reason I started typing this post was because I realized this morning that we haven't played that game in at least two months. Since sometime well before Rosie came.
The crisis is over. She decided. She's absolutely a big girl.
I mean, I knew it all along, but it's nice that she's on board with the whole thing, you know?
Now, for your viewing pleasure, further evidence that Maggie is TOTES a big girl, presented in Top Five fashion, since everyone loves a list:
TOP FIVE REASONS THAT MISS MARGARET VIRGINIA IS A BIG GIRL:
4. Her hair has gotten super long. And sometimes pointy.
3. She has developed Big Girl Opinions and Big Girl Vanity. She wants to pick out her clothes, her shoes, her accessories and decide how we're doing her hair every day. And then she wants to show off.
Around Valentine's day she decided that underwear was cool and said that she wanted to wear her big girl undies. (We had a few pairs that a friend had given us.) I thought it was a fluke- remember, she JUST turned two in December- so I explained that you can't wear undies until you're ready to put your peepee in the big potty.
And then she called my bluff. She said "Otay, I peepee in potty." So, I took off her diaper, set her on the potty, and that kid screwed up her face in concentration... and peed.
WHAT. THE. HECK.
So, I HAD to let her wear the underwear. I mean, I told her to do it, AND SHE DID IT. That day I'd sit her on the potty every hour or so, and ever time, she'd make a really serious face... and she'd pee. And I'd let her keep wearing the underwear, because, Day 1 of Accidental Potty Training and NO ACCIDENTS.
Obviously, we were sticking with this. About a week later, (and, yes, our fair share of accidents, the first day was a miraculous fluke) she was truly potty trained. She rocks.
Also, here's my potty training hack for all of you who might have it looming in your future: buy an extra potty and put in the back of your van. It's fantastic. Saves you from road-trip emergencies, nasty, unusable public restrooms, and parks without a bathroom.
And... DRUMROLL PLEASE... The number one reason that Maggie is officially a Big Girl...
1. She gave up her pacis.
At her 2yr checkup the pediatrician walked in the room and was like "So, she still uses a pacifier?" and I was like "DARK MAGIC, HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!" Seriously, it caught me so off guard. I mean, she only had them in her bed at home, we didn't carry them around, there was no paci in sight, was I wearing a sign that said "Bad Pacifier Mother"?!?!
Apparently, he could tell by her teeth. She smiled when he walked in and he could tell immediately. I was truly panicked- first because I thought I ruined her mouth, but mostly because I THOUGHT I HAD ANOTHER YEAR? I thought 3 was the magic age for no-more-pacis?!?! Why are you changing it up on me?!?!
He kindly told me that it was no big deal, we should just think about getting rid of it soon, maybe after the new baby came and things had calmed down a bit. Though I appreciated his understanding, I didn't have the heart to tell him that it would probably be about 18 years after the new baby came that things would "calm down a bit."
I decided to take his advice though, and at least wait until after Rosie was born. We were also kind of in the middle of potty training when we had that appointment, (it was in February. I was two months late for her checkup. I just... was busy?) and I felt like we should spread out the transitions a little. For my sake AND hers. But, about a month ago, the window of opportunity presented itself- Maggie said she wanted a bike like Henry.
Now, in case you haven't noticed, I should probably go ahead and confess that my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE way to parent is bribery.
We can dress it up if you want and call it motivational tools, or working towards a goal or reward-based parenting, but let's call a spade a spade- I bribe my kids and I will never stop.
The next time Maggie said she wanted a bike like Henry, I told her YES! She could have one! I explained that whenever she was ready, she could take all her pacis to Target and trade them in for a big girl bike AND a princess helmet. She's not really used to getting whatever she wants as soon as she asks for it, so she was truly stunned. It was kinda funny.
"Otay?" she said. "I get pincess bike and pincess helemet?"
"YES!" I said! "But, you have to be all done with pacis. We will leave them at Target for another baby to have and you can have a princess bike and a princess helmet."
"I get a pincess bike?" she repeated. "And a pincess helmet? I keep it?" Clearly it was still sounding too good to be true.
"YES!" I said again, "But you have to be alllll done with pacis, becuase if we leave them at Target they are all gone. So you can snuggle with your blankies and your bunny and your Minnie Mouse, but you won't have any pacis to sleep with. But you will have a BIKE! Is that okay? Do you want to do that?"
"I GET A PINCESS BIIIIIIIKE" she screamed and started jumping and shrieking all over the living room.
I was a little worried that she didn't fully understand the trade-off, so I told her we'd go to Target tomorrow and tonight she could PRACTICE sleeping without her pacis so that she'd be ready to trade them for a big girl bike tomorrow.
This child, the one who had NEVER ONCE gone to sleep without a pacifier since about 2 months of age, this child who insisted on sleeping with AT LEAST 2 pacis, but would really prefer 3 or 4, this child who regularly woke up in the middle of the night crying because she couldn't find her paci, forcing us to crawl around on the floor in the dark, guided only by the light of an iphone screen until we found the beloved paci's, THIS VERY SAME CHILD climbed in her bed and went straight to sleep without a single peep.
It felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
The next day David took that kid to Target and bought her a bike (tricycle, really) and a 'pincess' helmet. Because she's awesome.
Now, the epilogue to this story is that although Maggie continue to go to bed at night sans paci with no problems whatsoever, after the first day, she stopped napping.
Could. Not. Go. To. Sleep.
Again, every night, passed out without a problem; every naptime, wide-freaking-awake for two entire epically-long, god-forsaken hours. I stuck it out for ten days, and then I caved.
I told her I had found one lone paci under the couch (lie. i had saved all the pacis. out of fear.) and it could be her naptime paci. BUT ONLY NAPTIME, OKAY MAGPIE??
It worked. Naptime is back. Bedtime is paci-free and fine. Maybe I shouldn't have wimped out, but seriously, I have a newborn, I NEEDED MY GIRL TO NAP. Plus, we've still cut down from like 12-14 hours per day of paci time to 2 hours per day of paci time. Without tears.
I'm still calling that a win. I'm still calling Maggie a Very, Very, Very Big (and incredibly cute, stubborn, sweet, and cuddly) Girl.
Not to mention that she's shaping up to be a kick-ass big sister, too.