Splints and Parenting

So Laelia has to wear her splints EVERY night. Every single night. No exceptions. If she doesn’t then I can tell a difference in the range of motion in her wrists. Stupid aggressive  arthrogryposis…

So we were bummed when the little girl figured out how to take the splints  off.

She’s been smart enough to take them off for a while now, but this last time,  Jill, the hand specialist, made them extra hard and tricky with double, mountainous  straps and everything.  Lali was thwarted for  quite a  while before finally  figuring out how to remove them. But thankfully she’s old enough now that we can make a rule to not take them off and she just has to obey us.

But to make this parental command a little more sweet, we told her that for every morning she  leaves her splints on she gets some fish crackers  or cheese  crackers.

The child loves her some novelty  crackers.

So every morning Laelia (who wakes up first) yells, “I’m awake now!!!” and her Daddy (since I have been at work for two hours by the time she wakes up) gets her and checks on her splints. Every morning she holds them up and announces, “Look at my splints! I want some crackers now!”

But lately during her daily stretches I noticed her wrists were stiff. Usually this means she’s having a growth spurt so I didn’t give it much thought.

Then one day I was on the phone with my dad and I heard, “I’m awake now!!!” I had put her down for a nap so I could call  my dad  in peace. I walked in and Laelia held up both her arms with the splints on and said, “My splints are on! I want crackers please!”

I answered automatically, “Okay, just a minute,” as I continued to half talk to Dad and half get her splints off.

Then it hit me. “Wait, I didn’t put your splints on for your nap!”

Laelia said, “Oh. Then no crackers. Let’s read a book!”

Me: “No, wait. Did YOU put them on?”

Laelia: “…”

Me (inspecting them closer): “And you put the stockinette on underneath?!!! And you worked the special straps on?!!??!!!”

Laelia: “…”

Me: “Answer me young lady.”

Laelia: “…yeah.”

Me: “Wait, do you do this EVERY MORNING?!!!!!”

Laelia: “Keeheehee.”

It was hard to think of an appropriate consequence while Lali’s grandparents laughed  their heads off  on the other end of the phone. :)

Which brings me to my topic of parenting. I feel like Laelia has made me do it a whole lot more since turning three last October. I was so relieved when it looked like we would be  spared the “terrible twos,” but instead we got a more advanced form of acting out in our super intelligent three-year old. Potty training for example has been a battle of the wills. And her  fits are so strategic that sometimes I just ask her while she’s screaming, “Laelia is this just so you don’t have to do what I asked?” And she’ll stop screaming (because she never was upset) and will start to bargain with me, “Um, so maybe I can eat a snack instead?”


But one night I had this mountain top experience with parenting. You know the term, when things are going badly then it’s like you’re in a dark valley trying to climb out. Then something goes well and you feel like you’re  on the top of the mountain, all the hard work behind you. That’s kinda how it went.

Laelia was screaming  because she had to go to bed and she wanted to play. I counted (I’m always counting) to three,  because she knows she has to stop by “three” or she gets a time out. I held her in my lap, facing me, and said, “I expect you to obey and not scream. You’re a big girl and you have the ability to obey really well.” But my awesome positivity and encouragement got thrown back in my face as she yelled, “You’re MEAN!”

Me: (taken aback) “I’m mean? Why?”

Laelia: “Because you counted!”

Her Daddy was in the corner of the room, slumped over and  completely defeated. It had been one of those days.  This imp in my lap had the frump face going pretty good and I was worried this would be a long conversation, and that’s when the genius parenting fairy came. *bling!*

Me: “Do you want to be the Mama?”

Laelia (frump face instantly melted away): “…yeah.”

Me: “Okay you’re now the Mama.”

Laelia: “Can you be the Laelia?” (her tone was so bright all of  the sudden)

Me: “Okay. Ready?”

Laelia: “Ready! (then she converts into an overly stern voice) Go to bed!”


(I just have to stop right here and say this was the most fun I’ve ever had as a parent. :))

Laelia: “There there. Don’t fuss. It’s bedtime.” She gave me a hug.

Me: “But you’re meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeean.” I continued.

Laelia: “I’m not mean. I’m Mama!”

Me (phony sniffles): “But you COUNTED.” (Trying to drum up the horror.)

Laelia: “Mama has to count so you obey. That’s not mean. You’re a big girl and you can obey. It makes God happy.”

Me: “So I have to go to bed?”

Laelia: “Yes. It’s past your bed time. (She had my tone of voice down pat  for that sentence.)”

(She gave me more hugs and patted my back.)

Me: “Okay Mama. I love you Mama.”

Laelia: “I love you too, Laelia.”

I tucked her in and kissed her good night. She went down without a battle. To think all that parenting had sunk in!

I practically strutted back to my own room.

4 Responses to “Splints and Parenting”

  1. Kristin says:

    she is a very smart little girl with those splints :).. i really love how you did the turn around with her though..i think that maybe helpful to me with my oldest.. thank you :)

  2. Linda Wesley says:

    Wow. That’s all I could say after reading this. How amazing to have Laelia parenting you back in the same way you parent her, and it sounds like she understands it. That is great. Wow.

  3. Baggins says:

    “…and thus is revealed a key principle every parent must learn. Namely, once a child has grasped the elementary principles of language, same child will demonstrate ability turning those principles to its advantage with a mastery seldom achieved by the most skillful of attorneys. The capacity of a child to adhere strictly to the letter of a command while simultaneously violating every facet of such command’s spirit must ever be anticipated and never underestimated.”

    [excerpt from Chapter 3, "So Johnny can Talk (Back) Now!" of _Joy, Sorrow and Bewilderment: a Guide for New Parents_ by Dr. Baggins (expert bachelor and childless nudnik)]

  4. Robin Clark says:

    This was so fun to read! I do empathize with you though, as we had two brilliant young men to raise. I only wish that I’d tried the role reversal at least once!

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