My daughter decided to give me a hugely frustrating grudge-match for Mother’s Day. It was a battle of wills. Honestly, this showdown belonged on Pay-Per-View. It was all about picking up her toys.

In honor of Mother’s Day, we had been playing with baby dolls all morning. It was the type of play session that included every outfit and accessory we could find. We’d fed them lunch. We’d taken them on walks in their respective strollers. We diapered, burped and laid them down in their babydoll crib. What I’m trying to tell you is that my entire living room was covered in babydolls and their paraphernalia. As we were getting ready to visit my parents, I told my daughter that it was time to clean-up. I drug out the tubs that our baby dolls and their stuff goes into. Then, I sat down on the floor to help my daughter clean.

As we started, I knew that it wasn’t going to go well. Brenna started playing with each thing she picked up. She moved slowly and only after I’d started counting. I got frustrated, as I tend to do when my daughter is refusing to listen to me.  After a few more minutes of repeatedly telling my daughter that she needed to be picking up her toys, the situation got serious. As my temper grew, I told my daughter that every toy she didn’t pick up was going in a trash bag. This should’ve sent her scurrying to get everything up off the ground.

Instead, Brenna decided that it was a great time to clean out her toys. She said, “Ok, Momma.” Then, she promptly started sorting out the toys that she wanted to get rid of. Right here, in this moment, my bluff was called. Looking back, I see how her response was hilarious. In that moment, if she wasn’t the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, I could’ve hated her. I didn’t hate her, but I saw the distinct possibility of hating her.

There are only two choices to make when your bluff has been called. Either you play the whole hand or you fold in disgrace. In this case, as I stared at hundreds of dollars worth of birthday and Christmas gifts, I folded. I looked my daughter in the eye and I told her that it was time to clean up her toys. Apparently my shame at being called-out by my three year-old resonated, because she didn’t question me anymore. She cleaned her toys up. And I promised myself never again to threaten something that I wasn’t ready to go through with.

(Photo: Thinkstock)