Streets and Sidewalks

"If you hold my hand across the street, I'll let it go when we reach the sidewalk," I say.

"No," she says.

"Yes," I say.



We go back and forth like this until I get tired of arguing, pick her up instead and carry her across, (screaming!) to the other side.

Back on the sidewalk, I put her down, let go of her hand. Together, we walk on... until we reach the street again with its cars whizzing by and its pot holes still wet from the rain. Our battle continues.

"Mine!" she says, pulling her hand away.

"Hold mine!" I say back.

Block after block, this is our dance. Even without the streets and the sidewalks and the cars running stop signs. A harmony of yeses and nos. Of holding on and letting go and celebrating her strong-will while at the same time trying to overpower it. Because she doesn't make the rules even though I support her for trying.

"Hold my hand across the street and you can let it go when we reach the sidewalk," I remind her.

"Okay," she finally says and takes my hand. Only to let it go halfway across the street.


I pick her up....




.... And put her down on the curb of the sidewalk.

Progress, I think.

We keep on walking.




Unknown | 12:27 PM

And this is why I never feel bad when I see an otherwise-loving parent "dragging" a child by the hand.

Still, this is the way to go. I raise my son to be respectful, but to always wonder, always question, always do for himself. And he does. It makes things damn difficult sometimes, but I truly think it's the best way to go. And sometimes, they even remember to be respectful!

huiwen | 12:58 PM

I am going through the same thing with my son right now. He likes to just stand and wail if I don't hold him. And that is why I get to every destination sweaty.

Kristi | 1:23 PM

My 2.5 year old is the same. She usually doesn't fight me too much anymore about holding hands in parking lots/streets/etc. But she hates it and jerks her hand away as soon as it's safe to walk on her own.

There's a few magical times when she'll take my hand when we are walking in a public area and it's so sweet.

findingmagnolia | 1:27 PM

That is SO my life right now, too! In addition, we have entered the phase of choosing a third option when only two are presented. I love having a strong willed girl, though, because I think if she learns how to use her will appropriately, it will serve her well in the future.

Cave Momma | 1:49 PM

Both of mine are the same although my now almost 3.5 year old is getting so much better. I find what has helped is giving them an option (do you want to hold my hand and walk or do you want me to carry you?). They make the decision so they still feel empowered. More often than not they opt to hold my hand and I hold that hand tight otherwise my 2 yr old will "forget" half way through.

Anonymous | 3:49 PM

EVERY damn day with my 2 year old son. Streets just seem to have some type of magnetic pull to him. He's drawn to the danger of the whizzing cars and the "openness" of no curbs.

It makes walks alone with he and the 4 year old horrendous! Yet we walk anyway!

GingerB | 4:05 PM

My almost 2.5 year old is exactly the same, plus I get really foul looks and the limp noodle body whenver I try to enforce the "near a car, you can't go far" rule.

Like Cave Momma before me I try to present it, positively, as a choice she gets, unless I am bad tempered or in a hurry or whatever. Then I grab and drop a wailing indignant girl who gives me the lip with stinkeye.

jessica | 4:58 PM

going through this with my 16 yr old girl too :)

Amy | 4:59 PM

I love this post and the comments too. My daughter does the same. It makes the times when she takes my hand to hold super sweet.

SalT | 5:22 PM

I have an idea for you, Rebecca. Actually, it's not mine, I got it from another mummy blog years ago when my son was tiny (now five), and it's GOLD. When he refuses to do something like take my hand across the street (happened just a few days ago!), I say, "That's okay, I've got all the time in the world. I'll wait until you're ready." Then we wait it out. I don't say anything, I don't move. Five minutes, two, heck, thirty seconds can feel like a lifetime to a child, so it's not long before he says, "Fine!" and puts his hand out to be held. Try it - saves the yelling and fighting, which is kind of what they want. If you don't participate, it loses its appeal.

Max | 7:05 PM

I make that same deal with my 2yo and I get about the same response.

Zakary | 11:12 PM

That just about sums up the mother/daughter relationship. My daughter is almost ten and I can't carry her across the street, but we do this dance every single day.

Heidi O | 2:50 AM

This is very similar to my 2.5 year old. So stubborn. And hilarious. I particularly enjoy when he refuses to stand and throws his body back at the same time.

Nothing like my (almost) 4 yr old!

Kristina | 6:34 AM

Whoever said parenting is easy. But it is rewarding indeed. You're a great mom for being supportive yet cautious.

EMQ | 11:29 AM

My daughter will hold my hand all day long...until of course we start walking across a crowded parking lot. And then suddenly, when we're in the most dangerous possible location, she jerks her hand away and refuses to have it held again. And so I pick her up under one arm and listen to her either cry or laugh until we get tp where we're going. I'm glad we're both acting totally normally!

Kim | 1:16 PM

My daughter just learned how to say no. And it is her answer to everything. Yet if we say no to her, the lower lip shoots out and tears start falling.

Nadia | 1:21 PM

Oh yes, how I know this! My daughter does this every time we go out and then she decides to let go in the middle of the street. It lasted with my 1st until she turned 4. ;)

Mari | 5:04 PM

Apparently I was just like that as a young girl. A very independent spirit who had a fit every time I had to hold her hand to cross the street. My mom finally resorted to getting a harness for me (not so popular in the mid 70's). She said it was better than having it look like she was kidnapping me every time we crossed a street.
Now that I have a toddler I have even more sympathy for her. I suspect karma will ensure I go through the same thing here very soon.

Christina Rosalie | 12:54 PM

Oh yes--this is the dance of independence. I'm in the thick of it too. I loved this post Rebecca. You hit some cord of simple, immediate now-ness that is beautiful in it's unresolution...

Margie | 7:48 PM

This is exactly where my little one and I are beginning to be. So glad it's not just us. Kind of hope it passes soon, as these dance steps are awfully complicated.

Jen (and Audrey, too!) | 10:39 PM

My daughter is quickly approaching the big 2-year mark, and we're starting to touch on some of these issues. The budding sense of independence cracks me up sometimes. As tough and embarrassing it can be, I also find myself fighting back laughs sometimes.

Ida Mae | 5:59 PM

I think of these things often when dealing with my son. He is just now getting into his own personality, with his own ideas, and decisions. I often wonder why it is we parents have to over-power their will, and if somewhere we are failing their spirit. But then, I also understand my job is also to love and protect his spirit, and that means protect him. Being a parent can be so conflicting at times!

Greg and Alyssa | 7:25 AM

My son was cured of this disease when he got a time out on the way home from our apartment complex pool for dashing out into the street to avoid holding my hand when there was a car coming. It was WAY down the street so it was nowhere near a close call, but I was mad enough to finally just make the point once and for all. One time out on a public street corner in his wet bathing suit did the trick.

W | 12:48 PM

My mother in law told me recently that the attitude of your two year old predicts the fire of your teenager. Pray for us both, Becca! (my 2 year old son and I do the same dance, complete with pouty lower lip.)