There are moments when I fear my third daughter, now almost three years old, is going to be difficult. I realize difficult is a relative term and compared to some, she might be a saint. Maybe “challenge” is more appropriate.
I figured I would be better equipped, older, wiser with our third-born. I’m certainly faster at putting on Polly Pocket’s shoes and my forearms have developed seemingly permanent, uneven muscle tone from lugging car-seats, but this rather than feeling like a better, stronger parent, at times my third child makes me feel weaker.
My youngest daughter seems to have a different approach to life than her two older sisters. When I say “puzzles,” she says crafts. When I say “echo,” she remains silent. When the phone rings, she runs for the pots and pans and a large, wooden spoon. When I say “naptime,” she starts a parade. When I say “underwear,” she streaks through the neighbourhood.
When I suggest it’s time to read, she grabs the toy microphone and begins a concert for her toys. When I ask if she wants to ride her trike, she shouts, “Wagon!” like I’ve gone mad. When I tell her excitedly, “We’re going to the grocery store!” she kicks me repeatedly.
I spoke to a friend and childcare expert about some of these behavioural concerns. She suggested I use the word “ouch” whenever feelings were hurt rather than saying “no” all of the time. There simply aren’t enough Band-Aids.
Then last week we were sitting on our back porch enjoying a crisp, fall morning while she sat next to me with her pink, fuzzy blanket (a.k.a. Pink Fuzzy), made with love by Grandma. The same Grandma my daughter had just asked to talk to on the phone! And when her wish was granted, she said the following: “Grandma, I never want to talk to you again.”
She looked at me and asked, “Mommy can you splash the blanket on me?” I’ve been splashing blankets on the kids for nine years. This time it felt different, like a command rather than a request.
Later, as I started to read the first of 27,000 books she had stacked on my lap, she squirmed her way between the books and me. I feared she was going to tear the cover, shred the pages and tell me we were now playing rabid dog and I was the unsuspecting, trapped-on-the-porch kitten.
Instead, she faced me and looked me straight in the eyes, just a few inches away. Gently grabbing both of my cheeks (no “ouch” required), she said, “Mommy, you’re wonderful.”
I’ll take it.