"Let Sissy win!" I remark at my son at least six times a day.
Let Sissy win – When she's coming down the stairs in the morning.
When she's trying to beat you to the front door.
When she wants to be the first to get out of the car.
When she wants to win the running race at the park.
When she darts to be the first to arrive at the swings.
When she sprints to be the first to hug Daddy as he walks in the door from work.
"Let Sissy win!" I constantly instruct him, occasionally bark at him and sometimes whisper to him.
And, more often than not, my command is met by him with irritation, aggravation, and even some hesitation.
"Why, Mommy? Why? Why does she get to win ALL. OF. THE. TIME.?" he begs to know.
"Because she's two," I tell him "and because Mommy said so," I follow it up.
I am also sure to remind him that when he was two, I required the same cooperation from his older sister to keep him appeased.
While placating a toddler to avoid a meltdown is clearly a bad (and dare I say lazy parenting decision), regularly make that choice, I do, and I demand that her siblings, especially her older brother comply.
As a mother of three under the age of 7, I don't have to tell you that I deal with nonsense all day long. My days are jam-packed and mainly consist of me attempting to balance affection and attention between my three intelligent and charismatic offspring, each of whom as a powerful personality and a plethora of opinions, needs and wants.
This isn't an easy feat, and no matter how hard I try to stay impartial, at least one child will accuse me of giving preferential treatment to another.
Can you guess who most regularly gets to take the cake?
The one and only "Boss Baby;" the two-year-old.
Is it because of her age?
Is it because she is a girl?
Is it because she is the most unrelenting?
Or, is it because she is the one who, age-appropriately, is incapable of patience, logical reasoning and not flippin' losing her mind over the smallest thing which causes me to do the same?
I'm pretty sure it is that.
BUT, I started thinking the other day about how my almost constant directives to my son, specifically, to let our little girl win could be misinterpreted by him and may perhaps misguide him.
Should he always let girls win?
Should he always let the bullies win?
Should he always let the loose cannons win?
Should he always let those with a delicate sense of worth win?
Of course not; NOT ALWAYS, at least.
He should let girls go first because that's chivalry and sadly, it's a dying code of conduct.
And though he should never back down from intimidation, there are occasions he should walk away and "let it go," because a fight with a browbeater – physical or verbal– is not worth it.
Then there are the seemingly weak, and though they sometimes purposefully prey on the stronger ones by appealing to their empathetic nature, it's still extremely compassionate and undoubtedly impressive for an individual to assume sincere fragility and handle such a person with care.
"Let Sissy win!" I remark at my son multiple times a day, and up until now, I have done so without thinking about the life lesson my directive may be imparting upon him.
What I've come to realize is required of me as his parent and life co-traveler is that we have more in-depth conversations about the requirements I give him and the requests I make of him.
I've come to recognize the importance of him giving me push back, asking me questions, disagreeing with me and us exploring individual situations and interactions on their own merit while considering all internal and eternal circumstances contributing to both of our perspectives on an issue.
If I continue to charge my son to "let Sissy win" all the time and we don't have a dialogue as to why Mommy in insisting on such, then I very well may raise a doormat and I will not allow that to happen.
At the same time, I must ensure that my semi-tyrannical female toddler understands who is in control and that IT. IS. NOT. HER.
Yes, I want her to have a powerful voice.
Yes, I want her to exercise it.
Still, I must prepare her for the real world which is a place where she will not always be first, not always win and will absolutely not always get her way.
"Let Sissy win" has been my anthem as of late because motherhood is exhausting and tantrums from two-year-old only make it more draining.
Yet, one thing I am entirely sure of is that I cannot drain my son, or any of my children for that matter, of their desire and ability to voice their opinion, stand up for what they believe in, respectfully question my or anyone's authority when we bark blatantly unjust orders and force conversations and explanations.
I didn't (and don't) have bad intentions when I ask my older kids to let our youngest win, but I very well may be encouraging a deferring type of behavior which will not always serve them in adulthood.
There are situations and people in life that are difficult, and the way to handle such is not one size fits all; there is not one "right" answer.
Here's to me remembering that on the next occasion when my son questions me as to why he has to let the tiny dictator go first.
Here's to me remembering not to let my little lovebug always go first.
Here's to me remembering not to let the exhausting behavior of our pint-sized queen of the castle lead me to make poor parenting decisions.
Here's to my son allowing his baby sister to go first because it makes her happy, he cares about her happiness and doing nice things for those we love feels good.
Here's to my tiny tyke learning how to be patient and how to lose.
And, speaking of losing, here's to hoping I don't lose my mind as I work on being a better parent and life guide.