“me too”

I’ve had this post drafted for a most of a week now. On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I should have just posted this instead of that long incoherent rambly mess I ended up posting. Oh well. Some people liked it.

Nobody really likes to be left out. We all like to be included but Alexis seems to have taken it to a whole new level. She’s got a terrible case of the “me too”s.

What is the “me too”s? Well, whenever anyone is given a compliment or gets to do something fun or gets a reward or a cuddle or any acknowledgment at all really, she says, “me too!” It’s 30% funny and 70% irritating.

Perhaps it is just a ‘phase’ or developmental thing she is going through on the quest to find her identity and place in the world. I doubt she’s severely damaged and starved for affection. She is a well loved little girl. She does however, crave approval and try to fit in with the pack.

Alexis is the first two-year-old I’ve ever really spent any time with so I am not sure if it is ‘normal’ or not. I would imagine it probably is but it’s not what she used to be like. She used to be strong, feisty, independent. It’s a bit odd to see her trying so hard to fit in with the other kids (sometimes successfully and sometimes not).

Sometimes the “me too”s help make managing a defiant two year old a little easier.
– “Alexis please come clean your teeth.” “No!” “Ok. Mummy is going to brush her teeth”. “Me too!”
– “Alexis do you want to go to playgroup today.” “No!” “Oh. I think William really wants to go to playgroup.” “Me too!”
– “Alexis do you need a nappy change?” “No!” “Ok well mummy is going to change William’s nappy.” “Me too!”
– “Alexis it’s bath time.” “No!” “We are bathing William now.” “Me too!”

You get the point. This works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, getting dressed, getting in the car, even nap time to a certain extent. When we take William to the doctor she also wants to be checked and she even got a needle (a revised pneumococcal vaccine) when William got his most recent immunisations.

We don’t let Alexis run the roost. She gets disciplined if she’s willfully disrespectful or defiant but it is sometimes easier to go with pack mentality. We do prefer to praise good behaviour rather than punish bad behaviour. So if there’s an easy way to encourage her to do what we want her to do it’s a win win. I wonder if it’s backfired though.

There are times when the “me too” is just a little irritating, like when I give William a teether and she thinks she needs one too. Corey has to be careful when throwing William around because you can be sure that two year old Alexis will insist on getting a turn too. The other day I put William in a laundry basket while Alexis was playing on her rocking horse to stop him crawling underneath it. Alexis decided the rocking horse was not as excited as what William was doing.

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The things that concern me though are at playgroup and church because that’s her main dealing with other kids. Both are fairly small groups run by the same family. Alexis wants to do what the other kids do and be treated like the other kids are treated and just be part of the family really. The problem is, as much as they try to accomodate her (and they go out of their way to include her most of the time), she isn’t part of the family.

Playgroup the other day was at the leader’s family members house. It was difficult to get Alexis out to the car to go home when some of her little friends were staying. She never likes to leave playgroup so I wasn’t too worried but a small part of my brain was stressing a bit about whether or not she was feeling unwanted. I’d say she mainly didn’t want to stop playing but she was very aware that some of the other children were watching tv. “Me too!” I ended up having to promise her we could watch tv when we got home. I don’t like to give in but with juggling a 6 month old, a nappy bag, two craft projects and it raining, I really needed her to walk.

She’s also a fair bit younger than the other kids, although she doesn’t realise this because she is taller and bigger than most of them. If the older kids get prizes at church for memorising the monthly verse Alexis wants one too but she doesn’t get one because she doesn’t learn the verse. There’s nothing wrong with that but she thinks if she’s cute enough and says “me please” she will get one too. Cheeky. She’s gotta learn sometime that she has to miss out sometimes but at two years old it’s a hard lesson to learn. For the first few months she would stand up there at the microphone waiting for her turn to talk, “me! Me!” Now I think she’s old enough to know what is a actually going on.

The hardest thing to do is to nor let Alexis see that I am at all phased by this “me too” thing. I want her to feel a sense of belonging but I want her to respect authority and accept that no is no. I want her to socialise and want to make friends but I want her to be able to play alone. I want her to be resilient in dealing with rejection. I want her to be confident, independent and secure but I don’t want her to lose that sweetness and curiosity.

I can’t fight all her battles for her. I don’t know when I should stay out of it and when I should intervene. I considered approaching the Sunday school teacher and asking if they could set an easier verse for the toddlers (so Alexis has half a chance of learning it) but I think I just need to try harder to teach Alexis that there’s some things that are only for the older kids. I need to reassure her that just because she misses out doesn’t mean anyone loves her any less. That’s probably the more valuable lesson but it is a hard lesson for anyone to learn especially in the middle of the “me too”s.  

I do know that realistically my two year old bounces back a whole lot easier than I do. In the volatile world of the “me too”s she is easily upset but that means she has many opportunities to learn ways to deal with it.  I can’t remove her from all the hurt in the world, that wouldn’t do her any favours. The onus lies with me to work out what I am comfortable with letting her go through and what I want to protect her from. Instinctively I don’t want her to get hurt at all. I’ve learned to let her take physical risks when playing but the emotional and social side of things is a whole new level. Maybe my baby girl needs to toughen up a tiny bit. Well yeah, you know what?

ME TOO.

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