Suburban Snapshots

My Preschooler Might Be
on the Rag

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First off, I hate the saying "on the rag," but so much of Anna's behavior lately — namely that she can be a tyrant who does little but contradict even the most innocuous statements ("Oh Anna, it's such a sunny, beautiful day out!" "Well no it ISN'T mama. Because I have to go to SCHOOL and YOU'RE MEAN.") — I'm kind of at a loss for a more apt phrase.

I remember when Anna was tiny and I was talking with my friend about her own daughter who was 3 at the time. She said, "Emily is being such a bitch today," and my naive, righteous, brand-new-mom to a pretty easy baby brain thought, Wow, that's harsh.

And now guess what? My kid is being a real bitch, or to be more equal opportunity about it, sometimes she's an asshole.

I've commiserated with friends, I've asked 2 different Facebook groups, I've whined to my husband, my sister, my mom, and some of the best words of wisdom I've heard so far were from Allison of Motherhood, WTF? who said, "She doesn't have a personality problem. She has an age problem. 4-year-olds are assholes." I'm clinging to that because it suggests this is a phase and not a gene handed down from stubborn family members on both sides of her tree.

Anna tends to be at her worst in the morning and evening. She's alone with me before school, and then argues with us both about everything from what's on her dinner plate to how much Ruby Gloom she's allowed to watch to why she deserves dessert. It is exhausting. This morning at drop-off I heaved her into the room, sighed at her teacher and said some pathetic thing like, "I can't do right by her today. Good luck."

But there are days when she is glorious, like when we go out for breakfast together before school and we talk, she eats most of the meal she's had me pay for, she comes and goes without a struggle, sits, she buckles, and I am almost lulled into thinking, "I could totally be a SAHM!" I know she can't be her best self all the time but I feel like I've had to tell her too often lately that even when I seem mad, I still love her. I've had to swallow my outdoor voice too hard and too many times.

You guys can't fix this, and I know I'm not alone, that it's probably a phase. And I have some ideas on how to change things. It's just so frustrating, so draining to have to count to 3 endlessly just to get her to put shoes on, to feel like I'm always revoking privileges or threatening to (100% follow-through, if you were wondering). I love my girl, but man she knows just how to wear me out in the worst way. 

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