Today has been a good day. I took the kids out to run errands... treating them to Dunkin Donuts for some good, old fashioned, refined sugar and artificial coloring. It was a relaxing, fun trip. Ivey dressed herself in her Minecraft t-shirt, yellow skirt, and heart antennae headband, the girls brought in their stuffed animals, Addison brought paper and a pencil, and taught me a math concept that he learned in a book in the car, sigma notation. Asa brought his Kindle. It was nice.
And then, it was time to leave... and Olive preferred not to carry her stuffed ducky. This wouldn't have been a problem... except for her delivery.
"Carry my duck."
I bent down closer to her level and nicely said, with a smile, "I'd be happy to! But, can you ask me in a nicer way?"
The girl stared at me. She didn't shake her head no, she just didn't say a word. She tried to hand me the duck. I calmly, but firmly, told her that I could not carry it without her asking me nicely.
She climbed on a chair and tried to hand it to me. Frowning at me in stubborn silence.
I was still calm, but did not waver.
"I am so very sorry, but there is no way that I can carry your duck when you cannot ask nicely." I went on to explain that, in doing so, I would not be helping her to learn how to be a sweet, nice person.
She stared at me, still silent, with her arm stretched out. She squeezed her ducky in her outstretched hand.
And dropped it.
I noticed an old man who had been watching us the entire time. He was mildly entertained.
I leaned over and said, quietly, "Olive, I know something that you do not know. A lot of your stubbornness came from me... I am the master at this.... and I will always win. Pick. Up. Your. Duck."
Olive picked up her duck and we walked to the car. Asa was glancing at me with the, "oh my goodness where did this kid come from and who does she think she is" look. It's like a humored and amazed smirky smile and head-shake. We are all getting giving that expression to each other a lot these days.
I buckled the girls into the van. Asa and I were still standing in the parking lot, beside Olive's opened door. I handed him the duck... to show Olive just how this scenario went down.
Asa and I acted out the scene... "Carry my duck," and so on, ending with the ducky on the ground. I looked at Olive.
"That was no fun! Man, can you believe how that sounded?! Let's try it again with a better choice."
Then, Asa and I acted out a better scenario. It still started out with the demanding opener, but ended with a question, a please, and a thank you. Olive watched.
"Wow! Did you see THAT?!" I probed.
Without hesitation, or expression, this three year old pain in the rump let out a "No."
This girl has a very high understanding of the world around her, of language, even expressive language. SI can talk to her in a way that most three year olds could not even understand. And yet, she is so stubborn that it makes it all fairly useless... or it at least seems that way.
She know that it is our job to help her become a nice person, a sweet and respectful human being. She knows when she is tired, she knows when she is only whiny because of hunger, she knows when a hug will help calm her down, she has an amazing, innate, self-awareness. She just doesn't want to be nice... and she will explain it.
"I only want to be a little nice to people."
"I don't want to smile."
What does one do with this? According to Mom, I was a lot like this... enough to earn her calling me "Melancholy-Holly". But, was I this bad? I know I was stubborn... Very stubborn... But, was I this stubborn? Olive prefers it when her siblings all go off without her. She thrives on her own, playing happily, no one to interrupt her or tell her what to do. I am not sure that I have ever personally met anyone who values their independence and adulthood as much as I do. Although I married a wonderfully laid back awesome man who couldn't care less what I do around the house or where I move furniture or if I even cook dinner, I still prefer to move couches and beds in the silence of 2am, on my own, just so I don't have to voice my plans. We come from a long line of stubborn women. Although I am sure it made me a pain to raise, it is core to who I am, and I appreciate this quality. I thrive on independence.
I guess I just keep plugging along. She doesn't make it easy. Try explaining to your three year old why she is in trouble and having her look up with a frowny brow and state, "If you would stop talking, I would start feeling better." Not easy.
I did make up a rhyme yesterday that, although will most likely do no good, was cute. During a grumpo moment in the car, I asked Olive to reach up and feel her forehead.
"Do your eyebrows feel bumpy? If you feel bumpy, then you are too grumpy!"
It's a good thing that, even if the day racks up a lot of damage points, my health car is usually nice and full by the time those little feet come stomping across my floor at the crack of dawn.