On the one hand, I firmly believe in giving a child as much autonomy as is appropriate, since it would drive me absolutely crazy if I had to make ALL the decisions for anyone all the time! Yuck!
But on the other, I also believe it's valuable for children to learn very early on that we all have to make concessions sometimes. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't live in a society where my kids will be able to do whatever they want whenever they want in a safe manner. And there are certain pet peeves of mine (which I fully recognize as being 'my problem') that I do not tolerate, in order to protect and preserve *my* integrity.
This being the case, IMO there are just going to be certain times that allowing the child to lead the way is not going to be possible. I think that for most people, this tends to revolve around health and safety issues--but that many of us have certain things that WE need as well, that are less negotiable than others.
For example, maybe Mamapie, for her own mental health and sanity, really NEEDS to get out of the house from time to time. I think it would be a good idea to plan this outing around something her son enjoys, plan for a couple hours preparation time, and offer him as many choices as possible. (Would you like to wear the red shirt, or the blue shirt? Would you like to wear your sneakers or your boots? Should we put cheese or peanut butter crackers in our snack pack? Should we use our sling, or the stroller?) But occasionally allowing him a tantrum and assisting him with getting dressed is not, IMO, tantamount to child abuse. And if mom needs to get out, sometimes she should be allowed to, try to make things as painless as possible, and if the child has a history of protesting during the process but being fine afterwards, then I don't think she should feel bad about meeting her needs occasionally as well. Maybe I'm more callous than some of you, but to be honest, *temper* tantrums don't bug me very much, especially if they're just 'blowing off steam' tantrums. Even I need to 'vent' sometimes before I have to do something I don't like.
This may seem like a topsy-turvy suggestion, but maybe you could try giving your son a bath *before* you go out, Mamapie? You could start from scratch then...at least he'd already be undressed. Does he dress himself? Sometimes that can help a lot. It might be helpful to get him some clothing that's a bit too large, since this can make it a LOT easier for him to self-dress (especially with shirts and socks). Do you think he'd be into making a ritual for going out? (ex. Bathe, Dress, Pack Snackpack, help mom pack car, go!) Is not going out if he's not cooperative a big deal for you personally, or is this just something you feel he 'should' do? I know, for practicality's sake, I tend to only press issues that I truly think are important. Going out isn't a big deal for me personally, since we have a fenced yard, and I'm perfectly content sitting in my garden. But table manners are extremely important to me, and any child that throws food at my table will soon find their plate cheerfully cleared as we continue our lunchtime conversation. Just a personality fluke, I guess.
I like the idea of TCS, and I think that by and large I follow it in most situations, but I think years of childcare have given me a more pragmatic streak than it allows. I have no regrets and will freely admit that I have bodily carried in children from the playground when our time was up because A) they were about to get run over by the horde of older kids that were going to start pouring through the playground doors at any minute, and B) I was required by law to maintain proper child to adult ratio in the class, which meant that I didn't have the luxury of continuing the conversation for as long as I would have liked. Believe it or not, after one or two times of this happening, almost all the kids started respecting that when it was time to come in, it was time to come in...and we teachers learned to respect the kids by giving them ample warning time, and involving them in a going in routine (put away ride on toys, play ring around the rosy or london bridge, and then do log rolls or somersaults down the ramp to the door. Even the kids who didn't regularly participate knew the sequence, so they weren't rudely yanked away from their games with no warning).
I take children's feelings and individuality VERY seriously, but from my perspective part of that means teaching them (again, in an age-appropriate and non-violent manner) how to take me seriously as well. Different people are going to have different tolerance levels--and this includes kids AND adults. As adults, it's our responsibility to own our levels, and to do the self-exploration necessary to know what they are and question ourselves enough to learn how to be as flexible as possible...but *also* to know when we've reached our limit, to not lie to kids that we have, and to honor that limit.
It's a lot easier to do this as a provider, I think, and I am well aware that none of those kids had their primary bond to me. But I *can* tell you that after getting to know them and loving them, the children in my toddler classes loved me too, and trusted me, and did not fear me--and knew that I was there to protect and love them in return. I don't feel that having simple, communicated expectations and enforcing them affected them negatively--in fact, my kids were often the calmest (calmer than the preschool and pre-K kids!) during fire drills and during the earthquake that we experienced, because they knew I would not ask them to do something unless I meant to enforce it, and because I intended to keep them, our equipment, their friends, or the teachers safe. We also enjoyed a relatively stress free and extremely calm classroom (which is hard to do with tods) because teachers and kids were encouraged and helped to communicate their limits and boundaries, and those limits and boundaries were expected to be honored.
Not sure if this was helpful or not, but my point is that sometimes I think that kids do need some help to get things done, and I don't think parents should be made to feel guilty or inadequate for having to sometimes enforce rules or expectations, or if negotiation comes to a stalemate. It happens in the workplace, it happens with our system of laws, it happens within relationships, and sometimes a toddler isn't going to get his/her way. To not get them used to occasionally doing something that's not completely fun or is a tiresome step in order to be able to DO something fun is crueler in the long run, at least in my opinion.
But if there are some people who can make 100% negotiation and 0% enforcement work for them, more power to you!
I don't deny that there probably are people who can/will/should handle things differently than me!
Sorry for the rambling, I'm a windbag by nature, and getting ready to pop (due date next week, yay!) isn't helping. As always, your mileage may vary. ;>