This stay-at-home summer with my girls has taught me, no, reinforced something (in a way that we hammer in a nail 27 more times to make sure it sticks): My older daughter, Little Miss, age 3.5, is rather loquacious.
Sometimes, when she’s around, I can hardly hear myself think, she talks so much. Growing up as an only child, where I was often left to my own devices, reading or playing quietly in some corner, hearing constant chatter (Watch this! Look at me! Hey, you know what?) and trying to field a barrage of questions (What’s elevate? Who’s on the call? Why are you doing that?) at what feels like every minute of the day can be a little overwhelming. Not to mention unnerving.
But she’s learning. She’s curious. She’s exploring. All good things. For her.
It’s an occupational hazard for me.
Yet, there are gems that come out of that mouth that make the rough moments worth it for me. Well, almost.
After watching Disney’s Brave, we were role-playing the movie and naturally, she played the princess (and I, the witch. Of course). At least it’s a story I can get behind. (Brave, warrior-like princess with no love interest that makes her swoon? Hell yes!) But when it came to the part where Merida, the princess, had to ask the witch (ahem, me) for a potion, Little Miss said:
“I want a spell to change my feet.”
Confused, I asked, “Feet? But we’re playing Brave, not The Little Mermaid.”
She became impatient. “Yes, I know.” And then adamant: “That’s what Merida says in the movie! She wants to change her feet!”
And then comprehension dawned on me.
“Oh honey, I think you meant fate. She wants to change her fate!” And I burst out laughing.
She wasn’t happy at my reaction, but I couldn’t help myself, imagining what the movie must have been like for her. She was probably wondering why Merida wants to change her feet when there’s nothing wrong with them.
Last week, during a long-ish drive home, I decided to distract Little Miss from the length of the journey with a game in the car, where we each took turns coming up with words that started with a particular letter. That day, it was F.
She’d been doing really well, coming up with doozies like “Ferris Wheel” (perhaps passing Navy Pier had something to do with it) and “fingers” on top of predictable ones like “fries”, “frog” and “fun”.
Then My Guy offered, “Five”. I chimed in with “Four”, and Little Miss’ eyes looked like they were going to pop when she exploded with “Freeeee!”
Technically, she was right. Except she didn’t mean “free”. She meant “three” because that’s how she usually says it - one, two, free!
She was so pleased with herself that it was tough trying to finally break the news to her that a) she was wrong; and b) she had been mispronouncing three all along. That is, after we got a good amount of chuckling in, but we at least tried to be discreet that time.
There are many moments like these with Little Miss, but it’s sad that the ones I remember more at the end of the day are ones fraught with tears and high-pitched screams. She is always pushing – buttons, boundaries, me - that even though I’m trying to parent better, I don’t always succeed at not allowing her to get the better of me.
Maybe she’s super talented. Or maybe I’m not very good at this. But I don’t let this keep me from trying. Because I know she’s trying too.
She’s trying to vie for the attention that was once all hers. She’s trying to be heard. She’s trying to exert her personality. She’s trying to please me. How do I fault her for any of that?
And so we both keep trying. Both coming from different places, and never quite meeting in the middle, which makes it unbelievably hard sometimes. Especially when we spend so much time together these days.
But then she’d say things like:
“My poop is kinda hard. I didn’t have a lot of vegetables today. I think I’m going to have peas and broccoli for breakfixt tomorrow. And carrots. And toast. All of it. Okay?”
And it’s all better again.