- “Don’t care about that!”
- “Stop annoying me!”
- “Don’t even think about it!”
- “What the hell?!”
Some of my three year old’s favorite lines. Recently at our family reunion, we awarded her “Little Miss One-Liner”. Aside from “what the hell”, all of her rotten little statements make me laugh. There’s something so darn funny about a 2.5 foot scrappy little blonde that thinks she can take on the world. She loves to launch into a lecture the minute my husband walks in the door, “where have you been? do you know what time it is? it’s 9 o’clock! it’s been 20 hours!” He looks like a giant next to her. He engages, plays her feisty little game and she doesn’t flinch. I love it. I hope she never loses her gusto.
I’m ashamed to say I would not have felt that way when it comes to my older daughter. Her personality is definitely more passive by nature but I was also stricter with her at 3, than I am the second time around. With nearly a 6 year age gap between my girls, you can bet I am a different parent. Back then I spent too much time caring what other parents thought. Caring even about what my friends thought. I relied too much on the rules of black and white and failed to see the value in letting my preschooler navigate her environment by her own instincts. I wish I would have truly realized that all kids hit, throw tantrums, and say bratty things. I wish I would have realized that there was more value in my child sticking up for herself instead of being afraid of getting in trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, the little line crosser visits the time out chair frequently. I’m constantly giving her better solutions for solving her problems other than screaming and flailing on the ground. But, this time around I’m doing my best to preserve her will. With both girls, I’m listening more and assisting them to make their own decisions. It’s easier to gently teach the little one to take it down a notch, than to teach an older child to embrace their own uncertain yet correct instincts, coach them to speak up for themselves, and have the courage to be persistent when they aren’t being heard. It’s far less heartbreaking too. You’ll have to trust me on this one.
Of course, like all parenting theory’s, time has yet to tell if it will pay off. One of them might grow up to be the next Sarah Silverman. I think you know which one I’m talking about.