Tag Archives: Three years

Kids Are Weird, Thursday edition

Recurring conversations we have had in our house of late:

During lunch (dinner, snack, breakfast, etc.) …

Hatchling: [BURP] Oh! Excuuse me! Tee hee! (She actually says “tee hee.” And covers her mouth coyly with her fingertips. My eyes could not roll any harder.) Mama, I said ‘excuse me!’

Me: Good job, honey.

Hatchling: [BUUURP] Oh! Excuuse me! Tee hee!

Me: (warningly) Honey …

Hatchling: (trying really hard to push another one out) [BEHHHP] OH! EXCUUUUSE ME! TEE HEE!

Me: Look, let’s not try to burp, ok?

Hatchling: But I say ‘excuse me,’ Mama! I have big burps!

Me: Yeah, it’s good to say excuse me, but don’t make yourself burp, ok? Just, uh, let them come out naturally. (Because that’s a phrase a three-year-old will get. Definitely.)

Hatchling: Okay, okay, OKAY, Mama. (Brief pause. Takes large, airy gulp of beverage.) [BUURRRPP] Oh! Excuuuse me! Tee hee! That was a big one, Mama!

Me: (slowly bangs head against table)

——————————————————-

Before nap or bedtime …

Me: do you want to wear your socks to bed?

Hatchling: One sock. (sticks out foot)

Me:

Hatchling: Take-a off, Mama.

Me: You just want one sock off?

Hatchling: Yes. Take-a off DIS one.

Me: (takes off sock) Really?

Hatchling: Yes. There. ALL better.

Screemed

Today the Hatchling had her mandatory pre-K screening at a local school in our neighborhood. You know, where they test your hearing and vision, observe you interacting with other kids and adults, check your developmental skills, and so on. It’s a way to catch certain developmental disorders and learning issues before kids are in the school system, and – in Minneapolis, anyway – it’s a time where school reps can reach out to local parents with information on all kinds of resources for their families. Great public service, totally one of the reasons I never complain about paying taxes, just generally A Good Thing.

So why, you may be wondering, was I feeling increasingly anxious and tense in my stomachular regions as the appointment loomed ever closer? Well, the short answer to that question is: BECAUSE I AM INSANE. Which is true. But also: I was kind of scared about this appointment. See, the Hatchling, while she is an amazing, joyful, imaginative, artistic, funny, lovable kid, also is, uh, not the clearest speaker in the known universe. She’s always been a babbler, but it took her longer than a lot of her friends to emerge from that awesome pre-verbal “talk” into actual words, and it’s really only in the last 6 months that she’s started speaking clearly enough that even non-family and friends can understand her. Part of the problem is that many of the kids we hang out with are preternaturally verbal, so it’s hard to know if the Hatchling is actually behind or just normal. And then, you know, sometimes when you talk to her or ask her questions it seems like she doesn’t understand you, but it’s hard to know if that’s real lack of understanding or just being three and paying attention to other (often imaginary) things. And then I read my friend Christopher’s post and thought, god, I’d *love* to have a super verbal, into-words and reading kind of kid, because *I’m* super verbal and into words and I’d know how to navigate that! And of course the Hatchling may very well end up that way, but that’s not how she is now and so I worry.

Except of course she did just great at the screening. “We’re gonna go get some screems,” she announced to her father as we left. “See ya later.” And she was awesome. Walked right off holding the hand of the screener and came back 1/2 hour later trailing clouds of glory. NO language problems; she’s right on track. Average or above average at all the verbal and math stuff. Good social adjustment, good motor skills – she’s good! Also: 45 inches tall and 56 pounds. So good and BIG. Which, as the supervisor noted, makes it tough sometimes to remember that she’s only almost four. And for an only almost four-year-old, she’s right where she should be. And what I have to remember is, while it’s good to know she’s on track, even if she weren’t, she would still be A (damn) Good Thing.

Random Tidbits

1. The Hatchling used to pronounce her favorite movie trilogy “Stah Woahs,” which we enjoyed because it made her sound like Randy Newman. Now she’s (finally) getting her R’s she says it more like “Str Wrrrs,” which is less cute but equally funny.

2. In other Hatchling-speech related news, the kid has recently added another global region to her universe of accents. We used to call her The Swedish Chef because of how she pronounces her “U’s” (“Mama, wanna listen to some müüüsic?” “Mama, what are yüüü doing today?” “Mama, are yüüü coming outside tüüü?”). She still goes Swede on a regular basis, but recently, out of nowhere, she’s pronouncing her short “A’s” like she comes from upstate New York. “Dance” sounds like “dee-yance.” “Back” sounds like “bee-yak.” “Have” comes out “hee-yave.” Where, oh where does it come from? Neither of her parents is from upstate NY. Or Sweden, for that matter. What will be next? Hungarian? Portuguese? I’m hoping for Irish, myself.

3. In other Lucas-related news, we have recently realized that the Sprout, who has quite a husky voice for an eleven-month-old baby girl, sounds EXACTLY like an Ewok.

4. We found Mr. Squab’s old baby book the other day, and discovered that when he was ten months old, he weighed THIRTY ONE POUNDS. For those of you who are childless, this is an almost literally unbelievable amount for a ten month old to weigh. “I guess that’s where the kids get it,” he says. Sheesh. I guess! In totally unrelated news, my stepmother had to get her neck adjusted after our last visit, because she was holding the Sprout too much and IT THREW HER NECK OUT.

Here are some links that have been sitting in my browser forever:

  • This is an amazing article, both for the science itself and for the personality metaphor. Are you a dandelion or an orchid?
  • If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be Mr. Squab (who is a graphic designer), this comic will give you a pretty clear idea.
  • Everybody and their brother has already linked to this, but in case you haven’t seen it: Unhappy Hipsters, y’all.
  • Kate Harding wrote an excellent essay on the Kevin Smith/Southwest episode.
  • Save the Words!

Just call her Che

So the Hatchling staged a coup at preschool last week. I knew I was in trouble when her preschool teacher (whom we love) came out of the classroom to where all the parents wait in the hallway, and pointing her finger successively at four of us, said, “You, you, you and you – I need to talk to you.” We winced and slunk into the classroom while the other parents looked on in sympathy mixed with relief. It TOTALLY felt like getting called into the principal’s office, NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW, since I was one of those kids who never GOT called into the principal’s office, because my whole aim in life was to please my teachers. Because I’m an oldest kid, and we like to get approval from authority figures. UNLESS YOU’RE MY DAUGHTER. Because apparently nobody told the Hatchling this, and she and three of her favorite little playmates went completely Mutiny on the Bounty on their preschool teachers. Collectively, they refused to help clean up at clean-up time, would not join the group at group time, trashed the reading nook during snack time, and (thus) did not get to go outside and play at the end of the day. As soon as we walked into the room, the Hatchling and the other little girl in the group both started crying; they knew they were in trouble. The little boys opted for the avoidance tactic, and just looked away like they didn’t even know any of these people and where were they, anyway? We spent about 10 minutes sternly exhorting our wayward progeny to clean up the mess, pronto, no I mean do it right now, RIGHT NOW, miss, you are going to get in TROUBLE, and now go apologize to your teacher and we are going to have WORDS on the way home. Sigh. Of course, their teacher was horribly sick that morning, so my theory is that they sensed weakness and went in for the kill. Which maybe makes it even worse. Honestly, y’all, I have no template for this. I was a goody-two-shoes all through school. I mean, there were MAYBE two times when I got my name up on the board for talking too much, but lawsy, that alone was enough to just about bring me to tears. I didn’t even start THINKING about sticking it to the man until grad school. I am trying to look on the bright side. Perhaps she’ll be an inspirational activist type! Or … a union organizer! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Alternatively, she could end up stealing hubcaps after dropping out of school at thirteen. That’s parenting! Always an exciting option somewhere down the road!

While we’re at it, I’d also like a chalet in France

Recent conversation with the Hatchling:

The Hatchling: Mama, I want some CAKE.

Me: We don’t have any cake, honey.

The Hatchling: But I want SOME CAKE.

Me: Honey, you only want some cake because you just saw it on Sesame Street. And we don’t have any!

The Hatchling: But I NEEEEEED some CAKE! Can you get me some cake?

Me: Well, I need a million dollars. Can you get me a million dollars?

The Hatchling: TEN million dollars.

Me: Sure, that would be even better! Can you get me TEN million dollars?

The Hatchling (walking up to me, putting her hand on my shoulder, and looking at me solemnly): Now, Mama. Do you really think that’s a good idea?

Parenting FAIL.

I have a terrible temper. No, really. I’m a pretty patient person, so it takes a lot for me to lose my temper, but when I do … it’s not pretty. I don’t know if it’s my Prussian forebears or just my own personal inadequacy, but it’s a fault I’ve been working on for years and years. I’m a person of intense feelings, which can be wonderful when you’re talking about joy or love or empathy, but when it comes to anger I have a difficult time regaining control once I’ve lost it.

I come from a family of yellers. Our anger doesn’t usually last a long time (I have a hard time sustaining it longer than 30 minutes) and we’re not passive-aggressive, thank Maude, but in my family, when you’re mad, you yell. When I was a teenager, I had some doozies of yelling matches with my parents – fights that have gone down in family legend and probably caused all of my younger siblings to experience some level of PTSD. We all survived it, but looking back I wish we’d been able to find a way to manage those years with less screaming on everyone’s part. However, we didn’t, and so – like a lot of you, I’d imagine – my model of parenting consisted of spanking when young and yelling when older. I don’t blame anyone for that, mind you – like most parents, my mother and father did the best they could with the tools they had available to them, and, hey, I turned out OK. I just wonder if there was another way, sometimes.

It’s something I’ve really been trying to come to terms with as I parent my own kids. The spanking thing has been pretty easy to avoid. Not that I don’t understand the impulse, but it’s something we decided not to do a long time ago, and the social pressure against it (at least in our parenting and peer circles) reinforces that decision. The yelling/losing of temper issue has been much more difficult. It wasn’t until sometime this last year that I even seriously considered that it might be possible to parent (mostly) without yelling. Not in a repress-your-emotions-and-go-insane kind of way, but in a head-it-off-at-the-pass kind of way. I do know that yelling is rarely effective for me. I do know that I hate to see the Hatchling mimicking my or Mr. Squab’s angry behavior (with her dolls, for example). So I’ve been thinking about it, and trying some different techniques, and seeing what I can do about controlling my epic temper, particularly in the area of parenting.

I’ve been having a particularly difficult time with it this autumn, as all of our tempers have been tried by the ridiculous cycle of illness we’ve been experiencing, in addition to which the Hatchling is clearly entering into a “disequilibrium” phase and is trying my patience to the utmost on her bad days. This afternoon was a real nadir. Both the Hatchling and the Sprout woke up from their naps in absolutely foul moods, which in the Sprout’s case manifested itself in nonstop cranky fussing, and in the Hatchling’s case manifested itself in vicious temper tantrums approximately every five minutes. EVERYTHING was wrong and EVERYTHING was my fault. Make her ask for things politely? TANTRUM. Give her the snack she just asked for? TANTRUM. Ask her to pick up the toy she just threw at your head? TANTRUM. Turn on her favorite movie in the hope that it will calm her down? TANTRUM. You get the idea. Lots of “NO!” and “IT’S NOT FAIR!” and general “AAAAAAAAHHHH!” And I just … Could. Not. Take it. I tried patient reasoning. I tried calmly giving her options. I really, really tried. And then I started yelling. And then I found myself in the kitchen, slamming the stainless steel coffee pot on the counter to relieve my feelings. And finally, I put on a jacket and put the Sprout in her warm fleece and told the Hatchling that we were going outside to wait for Daddy and she could come if she wanted. And when she started pitching a fit about getting on her shoes and jacket, I just took the baby, and walked out to sit on the back steps.

We were out there for all of about five minutes, and I left the doors open so I could hear what was going on. But oh, it felt like failure. I was sick to my stomach afterward and I still feel totally deflated and defeated. Because, you know: SHE’S THREE. Of course she’s going to have bad, tantrum-y afternoons. And I know it’s just because she’s going through some kind of mental growth spurt, and this is how it works, and in a few weeks or (ack) months I’ll have my happy girl back on a more full-time basis. She’s three: she gets to act that way. Not without consequences, sure, but three-year-olds get a pass on losing control of themselves occasionally. Thirty-eight-year-olds, not so much.

Why is it so hard? What can I do to get better? I know you’ll tell me to cut myself some slack, and I do – I’m not interested in being anything like a perfect parent, even if that were possible. But I really don’t want to lose it again like I did today, or, god forbid, even worse. (I mean, if a three-year-old can punch my buttons this hard, what the hell will I do with two teenagers?) There has to be a better way. Anyone have any tips?

File this under “Things That are Awesome”

Picked up the Hatchling from her second day of preschool this morning (verdict: still loving it), and as soon as the Sprout saw her big sister, her face totally lit up with a HUGE grin. Then they spend virtually the entire ride home just looking at each other and laughing, while the Hatchling kept saying, “I so glad to know you’re here!”

Hoo. That’s the good stuff. Now here are some cute pictures:

The First Day of School
First Day of School

She just at a lot of cookie dough. Sugar high?
Manic!

I find that having two small girls on the counter is a real aid to cookie-baking
Ellie gets to lick the spatula

Here’s a little video of the Sprout in her bouncing contraption. MAN, I wish they made these for adults.