Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Life With a Nearly-4-Year-Old

Today my youngest daughter decided to do everything in the world that she could to drive me crazy. She almost succeeded.

It all started when she woke up. I was finishing the paper route with my son, and my husband was in the shower, getting ready for work. No one heard her scream.

Now, she wasn't screaming because she was hurt. She was screaming because she wanted someone to remove the protective railing from her bed so she could climb down. She called for me once, and when I didn't come, she screamed. Then she screamed louder. Really, I'm surprised that I didn't hear her screaming while I was out driving my son around. Grant it, all her siblings, minus her paper boy brother, were still asleep in bed and no one else was getting up. She wanted up -- now.

By the time I arrived at the scene of the tragedy (that would be her description), she informed me that she had been yelling for me. What a start to the day!

Then, she got down, got dressed and came down for breakfast. All was fine. In fact it was all fine until she, her older sister and I needed to leave for a doctor's appointment. As I was setting her in the car, I realized that her tights, dress, shirt -- everything-- was drenched with pee.

Then I wanted to scream.

I didn't have time to change her clothes,so I said, "Well, honey, you're going to the doctor wet."

Since it wasn't her appointment, she was going to just have to sit in her wheelchair. Once in the car, I asked her why she didn't tell me she needed to go potty. She gave me her standard response:


So I went over with her, again, what she should say when she needed to go potty.

"You need to say, 'MOM, I NEED to go POTTY!'"

She scowled at me, her bottom lip hanging low enough to touch her chin.

"Now, you say it...."

Nope, she wasn't going to do it. The line had been drawn and she wasn't going to cross it. She knew she was supposed to tell me she needed to go potty. The whole point was that she didn't want to bother with it, so there was no way she was going to say it now.

"Fine." I said, "You're in time out in your wheelchair until you say those words." I can be every bit as feisty as her.

So, she remained, pouting, in time-out in her wheelchair (which actually worked well since her clothes were wet so she couldn't get down anyway, but she didn't' know that) for the next 45 minutes. Then, as we were in the drive through line for the pharmacy, she decided to proclaim her intent.

"MOM, I NEED to go POTTY!"

Of course, there was no potty anywhere near us. I swear this was all planned. This kid is smart. She plans. She strategizes. And, as a result, she often wins...

Accident number 2.

Then we arrived home. I put her on the pot and made her take her clothes off and put them in the laundry room. She was in time-out on her bed until lunch.

Lunch was fine, and she was happy in her dry, clean clothes. After lunch she and her sister got out the "bean and aquarium rock box" and played with it for a while. Then it was time to clean of the enormous mess. It was not long before the "sweep" controvery arose. We have a small hand broom and dust pan they use to clean up their bean box mess. The older one had it first, and so, of course, she wanted it. Instead of helping with the dust pan she laid down and cried.

I had enough.

"Okay, if you're not going to help your sister, then you'll clean the mess up yourself." I said.

As the realization sunk in, her lip went out.

"Wha... well.... uh.... " some serious pouting, "Well, JESUS STILL LOVES ME!!!"

The implication being, of course, that I didn't since I was making her clean up the mess.

"Well, I still do to, but you're picking up that mess."

The day rounded out with 1 royal tantrum, 2 more potty accidents and an early bedtime.

So, now I will reflect on why I love this kid. Everyday isn't like this. Really. It isn't. I keep reminding myself of that.

For instance, she always talks about Jesus and how much she loves him. It's very sweet, especially when she says, "Someday Jesus will come get me, and then I'll take His picture."

She has also, recently, told me about her "people." I know it's common for a preschool age child to have a pretend friend, but how many have a pretend entourage?

"I do all my stuff with all these people," she told me the other day, waving her arms around and pointing at nothing. "All these lots of lots of people and friends."

It's always creepy when your kid gets pretend friends, but this was the creepiest, a group!

"What stuff?" I asked.

"My singin' and readin' and playin' , " she replied.

"What friends?"

"I have Big Brown bear, 2 little white bears, 2 froggies, 2 elephants and Mr. Helen." she replied.

So, apparently, everything she does, she does for her pretend audience of 7 animals and some unfortunate man named Helen. She, of all people, would want an audience! This is almost as bizarre as the time that my oldest son took an old broken laundry basket, put a pair of jeans in it and called it his "pet kitten". He took it everywhere with him and showed many shocked people the pet kitten. Thankfully, he out grew that phase.

She's also really cute when she pretends that under our dining room table is her choo-choo train. She sits on one of the pedestals and drives the train to her friend's houses. She often takes her baby -- baby John, who, today was wearing bloomers, a bow and a pink shirt. She had to drive him to the doctor for an appointment for his "streps and white spots on his throat."

And, she was really sweet when I tucked her in bed tonight. She hugged me and kissed me and said, "Mom, I flove you." It was really sweet.

So, I just have to remind myself of all the good things. Which is so much easier to do when she's asleep in bed.

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