“Mom, look! Friends!” Brianne excitedly states.
It seemed the discussion we’d had a month ago about the mayflies being harmless has finally managed to sink in. Either that, or more-likely she forgot about it and decided herself that these bugs are fun to pick up by the wings and make ‘friends’ with.
At four years old, I find that the stubbornness that surfaced at three has now matured into “I’m right-” ness. Funny, isn’t it? How they go from bombarding you with questions…straight to telling you what the correct answer is. Or, what they think it is. On a toddlers level, the things that they are so-called ‘right’ about are the things they couldn’t be more far off from the truth on.
“Mom, those aren’t hands (on a clock) those are pointers.” she states.
It’s hard not to laugh right in their face sometimes. I don’t want to deter them from making hypotheses and exploring the world on their own level, but I can’t just let them believe that fire ants really catch on fire…or that little babies really do like it when you poke them in the eyes…or that the kid on the playground really did push too hard on purpose even though I saw the whole thing happen… I have to interfere at some point, right?
Boundaries. That’s what the parenting books call them. It’s a tough thing to establish. I’ve gone from the physical boundaries that ensure my kid won’t take off running wherever and whenever they choose…to now the negotiation boundaries. There is only so much say my kids get with me. Only so much opinion they get to express at this point…before negotiations are over…and whether they understand yet or not why they are going to do what I asked…it’s time to do what I asked.
Without boundaries, absolute chaos. No manners, no sweet, polite requests. Enforcing them makes me feel like a drill sergeant. Nonetheless, I feel safer knowing my kids will stick by me in public places, and do what I ask. Lots of days I feel like border patrol. Now that my oldest is four, she likes to tell me where she thinks her boundaries should be.
“Brianne, we’re having chicken and peach rice pudding tonight for dinner.” I inform her. She looks at me like I’m crazy and immediately backfires, “I’m not very going to eat that.” Nice.
All it takes is a ‘no’ or a ‘oh, yes you are’ from me for her to dig her heels in and state her case. Whine, beg, plead, pout, stomp…flat out refuse. Go ahead kid, throw it all out there. Get it all out of your system and then do what I told you to do in the first place.
It’s exhausting to refuse to negotiate with a four year old. There are certain days of the month when I just don’t possess the patience it requires to be calm about it. One of those days that cause me to wake up the next morning ready to start a day that is NOT yesterday…and then realize I’m in for another one. Those are the days when I explain to her what being grounded is, how long a whole week…or month…without TV is, and what it feels like to do all of your chores and not get any allowance on account of one day’s bad behavior. It’s on those days when I have no patience, that she has no patience with me, either. And her two year old little sister just yells, “MOM” at the top of her lungs demanding to listen to ‘Baby-baby-baby-oh…” all day long in the background.
Soon, we’ll be at XC practice by 8am every morning, and there will be no room for morning slow poke shenanigans. I swear they can sense it. That’s why they’re ramping up. Ugh, I hate hurrying toddlers. It just makes them lolly gag even more.
“Brianne, did you make your bed? Go to the bathroom? Brush your teeth? Trace your alphabet letter of the day? Eat your breakfast? Get dressed?”
She just looks at me like I’m nuts. Mind you, she’s been happily doing all of these things all summer long, on account of our extremely successful chore chart and allowance system. As she trudges off to the bathroom, I follow along to make sure she washes her hands. Distracted, I get there after she’s already gone potty…but she’s standing there looking bewildered.
“Did you go?” I ask.
“A spider came out of my pee.” she said…pretty seriously.
I had killed a spider in there earlier that morning, and just threw him in the toilet dead to go down with the next flush. When I told her that, I thought she’d be relieved. But, how silly of me, she’s four.
“No, Mom. I peed it out.”
Explained again, that I killed the spider.
“No, Mom! I seriously know that spider came out of my pee.”
Whatever. The spider came out of your pee, kid.
Everything, and I mean everything, is a debate. And argument. A test of willpower. To quote my favorite TV Show of all time, “Serenity Now!!”
It’s in these streaks of ‘bad’ days that I miss the good relationship I have with my daughter, and it reminds me that those dreaded teenage years are right around the corner. As much as I want to instill good manners and proper behavior in her, I also have to remember to listen to my daughter. I know when I’m having an off day I pray for a little extra sympathy and understanding from the world around me. I’m sure that’s how she feels, too.
It’s on these days that I know she’ll want extra ‘Mommy cuddles,’ and it seems she appreciates not having to even ask. I honestly need them as much as she does. It’s in these moments that I feel the bond between my daughter and I growing.
Best buds are always there for each other.