Gemma was basically born into a Trump presidency. When Hillary was defeated Colin wrote “I genuinely feel depressed for the future of my family and my 4 week old daughter.” You could say that Gemma and President Trump have grown up together, and you’d only be wrong because President Trump has done zero growing up.
So let’s reflect on their first two years a bit, just for fun. I ascribe to the parenting philosophy that you should respond to all of your baby’s cries as quickly as possible. The idea is that a baby cries when it needs something, and a prompt response builds trust that the baby’s needs will be met.
I think Trump must ascribe to a similar presidential philosophy. You should surround yourself with individuals who will respond to your needs as quickly as possible with as little questioning as possible. Jeff Sessions, he seems like a good fit. Oh wait, he still has a backbone and won’t be my wingman through the Russia investigation? He’s out. Tweet about it.
At some point your squishy baby starts to cry not only when they have an real need, but also when they want something. Right. Now. It could be a vitamin C once they have already brushed their teeth. It could be that you cut a noodle in half and they only want the “big one.” At some point you’ve got to break it to your growing baby that sadly, they can’t have everything they want. This can be tricky. Your baby is learning to distinguish between wants and needs, and honestly, it’s hard to tell your child no and see them upset.
This week, after the record-breaking voter turnout midterm election, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that:
“The Nov. 6 elections ended two years of unfettered Republican control of Washington and brought the curtain down on what will likely be–despite its exhausting, near-constant chaos — the smoothest period of Donald Trump’s presidency. Really. Things will get even rockier from here.”
A month ago, after Gemma’s second birthday I wondered:
“Could the the Oct. 10 second birthday of my child end the unfettered baby-dictator control of my life and close the chapter of what will likely be– despite the exhausting nights and near-constant diapers — the smoothest period of Gemma’s childhood? She’ll never bounce along with me in her ergo again. She will become a teenager.”
Sometimes I feel like I’ve become the Democratic House to my two-year-old baby dictator. Gone are the days of unwavering responses to the tiniest cries. We’ve grown past that. Now, there are times when she flat out lays on the floor crying because she can’t ride her scooter into the street. Obviously a baby in the street needs oversight. Cue mom.
To paraphrase the incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, the Republicans have been looking past Trump’s suspicious activity. There might be times the President will interfere with plans to rebuild a new FBI headquarters near his Washington hotel instead of relocating to the suburbs in order to avoid hotel competition. Obviously it’s time to take a closer look. Cue the a Democratic House.
Progressives have formed groups like American Oversight to build a legal cases against Trump, and I can’t help but think, that’s exactly like my mom groups. While I jog and ask other moms how they deal with a toddler who refuses to put on their shoes (infamous toddler-mom show down), the American Oversight group is brainstorming ways to legally expose how Mara-Lago residents got a say in National Veteran Affairs. I guess we aren’t that different after all, are we?
Austin Evers (as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek) said: “The power of the congressional subpoena is backed primarily by an administrations willingness to follow long-standing norms rooted in the constitution.” Yikes. You mean oversight is only as powerful as the will of over the oversighted to respond?
Turns out that’s just like the relationship I want to build with my toddler. Ideally my parental request that Gemma put her shoes on is backed primarily by Gemma’s desire to obey, falling in line with long-standing norms of parent-child power dynamics. But seriously there are times I have to pack her shoes and bring them in the car if I don’t want to stomp all over her free will.
Bloomberg Businessweek goes on to site how the House can reign Trump in and lay the foundation for progressive legislation if a Democratic president wins in 2020.
For me, it’s an apt comparison to parenting. I want to be a check for my child, not an order issuing regime leader. The House has to mount a legal case against Trump, write legislation and try to work with the Republican Congress. Trump has veto power and strong base. But the House is there. Phil Schiliro, who was Henry Waxman’s chief of staff said (as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek) “You set the table when you’re in the majority but you don’t have the White House.”
As a parent I have the ability to provide rules, a secure environment, consistent consequences, and love, but I don’t have the ability to make decisions or choices for my child. As she grows and develops that is becoming crystal clear. My goal as a parent is to build a relationship on trust and love so that my daughter will make responsible decisions of her own accord. It won’t always happen, I know. Just like Trump may not respond to legal subpoenas for his tax records.
Right now, letting Gemma make her own decisions means that she spills pee while emptying her potty into the toilet. The stakes are small. This really might be the smoothest period of Gemma’s childhood, even though it has sometimes felt like I was going to lose my mind. As my little human grows I may realize that responding to her every whim, in the baby-dictator phase, was the least complicated relationship phase we would go through. She had needs and I fulfilled them. There was no grey area, until suddenly there was. The “big” chocolate bar in the photo below may have clearly been out of the grey area of needs, but sometimes your toddler is going to win.
I hope that as Gemma grows and we add more babies to our family I’ll continue to develop requisite grace to navigate the grey area. I try to give Gemma choices as much as possible. “Do you want to climb into your car seat by yourself, or do you want mom to put you in?” Sometimes the choice is thinly veiled, but you get the idea. As Gemma grows into more and more independence I want her to have the confidence and experience making choices that were hers, and hers alone. I want to lay the foundation for a child to grow into a powerful adult.
Now please excuse me while I go nurse my 2-year-old back to sleep.