In the precious few days I have left with my daughter as the only kiddo in the Sweazy clan, I'm sad that they typically play out like this:
Hrumph. I don't WANT to sit next to Mommy.
I don't LIKE Mommy.
More grunting sounds. Hands on hips. Back is turned.
Now, with extra sobbing. I DON'T WANT MOMMY! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE MANNERS! I WANTED THE PINK CUP AND NOT THE PINK LID. DADDY YOU MAKE MY CEREAL! MOMMY GO AWAY!
Or, my favorite. We accidentally make eye contact and she just screams, my mere presence such an offense that she emotionally can't handle spooning cereal into her mouth if I am within twenty feet.
Some mornings I take it in stride. Some mornings I cry into my tea, my poor husband fantasizing about an executive job that requires lots and lots of travel.
After nearly three months of this daily cold shoulder, I finally sought some reinforcements, namely Dr. Louise Bates Ames' Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy. The subtitle alone went a long way to making me feel that there's some method to apply to this madness. The book is part of a series that spans from birth to the teen years and was the culmination of years of research at the Gesell Institute of Human Development.
The fact that the book was written over thirty years ago didn't phase me. In fact, I was comforted by the fact that what Harlow and I are experiencing is well-researched phenomenon (read: it's not my fault my child thinks I'm a hellbeast!). To whit:
First of all, accept the fact at this age (3 1/2) the child's big emotional struggle is with his mother. She is the one who matters supremely to him. [Therefore] she is the one he needs to conquer. Almost any young child is at his best but also his worst with his own mother. Never more so than now.
Their sage advice on how to handle one of parenting's most challenging ages?
Get a babysitter.
You will if at all possible enlist the services of a good babysitter for as much of the time as possible.
And because Dt. Ames senses that I'm still blinking in confusion:
This advice may seem like the all-time cop out. It remains our best advice.
Years of research and observation of the wily three and a half year old has yielded this: Kid is batshit crazy. Mom is out of luck and out of her league, so hunker down until it passes. Maybe put on a movie until it does.
Today's matinee: Shrek 4