I have a three-year-old on my hands. Oh! You say, but I thought she was only two. You didn’t say she had a birthday. And, of course, you are right. She is technically two. The doctors and I agree. Her father agrees. Everyone seems to know that she is two.
She is finally discovering the art of conversation. Two weeks ago, she didn’t answer questions when she was asked. She just stared at the person asking as though they were dumb. Now she answers. Creatively.
When asked how old she was at the library, she looked up at the woman asking, smiled sweetly, and said, “I three.”
No. She is not. She is two. On the other hand, when I read about two-year-olds in the development books, it doesn’t really apply. She doesn’t lose her temper because she can’t communicate. She’s not struggling with normal toddler stuff. She has potty training down. She feeds herself. She’s getting the hang of dressing and undressing.
She’s also decided that on the emotional level she needs to be three, complete with intense need to control and be in charge. She requires choices and a feeling of being in control of some things so that she doesn’t fight me on everything.
She tells me what she wants. It’s not a request. She says, “Mama, come here now!” “Give me bottle.” “Mama. I need cookie.” “Make me sandwich. I hungry.” “Mama, I need your tummy, now.”
I remind her to use her polite words and her nice voice and sometimes that is enough to help her ask me nicely, but usually the whole process is a struggle for control.
I’m not really sure how to handle it. On one hand, I need her to learn to treat me with respect and politeness and learn to give, at minimum, politeness to the others in her world. On the other hand, I need to be able to give her the things that she asks for so that she can continue to believe that expressing her needs will help her get them met.
I also know that I’m not the best person to ask about how much control a person needs in their life, even a two-year-old person, as I like a lot of control. I might even be a bit of a control freak. Maybe. My needs for control are so innately high, that part of me wants to stomp all over this growing surge of independence. The other half of me is sure that’s a bad plan and wants to just give her what she wants.
I know that the answer lies somewhere in between, but I’m not sure where. It’s a kind of unmarked boundary between the wilderness and the farmland. In one there is nothing wild and free left, and in the other you will probably be eaten by wolves. Bossy ones.