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Loving the Sound of "OK, Mama.''

A few weeks ago, a 5-year-old friend of Maria's spent the night with us. They played dress-up, they danced, they played musical instruments, and they even read to each other before bedtime. It was the loveliest of evenings, and I so enjoyed listening in on them as they chattered.

And while I had worried there might be typical girl trouble, the two got along famously. I didn't have to stick my nose into their business even once. Maybe that is because this friend is a pretty laid-back kid. I was shocked a few times when I asked her do to something – like wash her hands before dinner and brush her teeth before bed – and she actually went and did it. No questions asked. No delay tactics.

Wow! It is possible to have that kind of kid?

I told this girl's mom I would welcome her child into my home any and every day.

Well, this precious child may have rubbed off on my own, or the gods finally are rewarding my patience, because in the two weeks Maria was out of school for the holidays, our head-knocking incidents were fewer. She is suddenly less contrary. She has started calling me "Mama''' more often than she calls me "Mami'' and I am hearing a lot of "OK, Mama.''

I swear, I stop and blink, marveling at the difference and somewhat shocked by the change. This was a child to whom I would say: "You want the pink cup or the yellow cup?" Then, when I gave her the cup she had just chosen, she would freak out and tell me she either really wanted the other one, or I didn't pour the milk to the exact line, or she actually had wanted to pour it herself.

I could go on. But basically, for the last two-plus years, I couldn't win no matter how much I was all "modern, positive discipline Mami" and spelled out expectations, gave advance warnings, offered options and logical consequences.

I used to tell my husband that because the reasoned and gentle path wasn't working, maybe I should just go all traditional Latina and take my slipper to her bottom and see if that worked. We agreed that no, I would keep my shoe on my foot. But oh boy, did I think about it.

There is no doubt my headstrong child was given to me so that I may practice patience daily. I really believe our children are here to teach us, just as much as we are here to teach them. At the moment, I am feeling like I'm in the final weeks of senior year. Just hanging out, having a good time, feeling lucky, and breathing deeply.

I'll let you know how long it lasts.

_____

Visit Bilingual in the Boonies and Los Pollitos Dicen.

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