No! I want this one! No, because I want...! No, because I don't like it!, No, I want that one! No, I do it!!! No, I do it myself!
Gah!!!! It has been backchat city around here for the last week or so. GG has discovered she has her own opinions on a vast range of subjects, and is adamant about expressing these. She also highly values her ever-growing independence, and vehemently resists any effort on my part to assist her in any way, shape or form. Of course, she is only capable of so much, and then when she can't do something, throws a fit. All of this, combined with my battling a headcold, has made me want to
lock her in a cupboard lock myself in my room. With a bottle of vodka Nyall.
Everything has been a battle this week, from getting her dressed, where she refuses to wear anything other than some God-awful and totally seasonally inappropriate outfit she has chosen herself, getting her in the bath, getting her out of the bath, you name it, if I mention it, she refuses it. I've always been a 'pick your battles' kind of Mum, willing to let some things slide, so as I'm not constantly harping on at her, but this is becoming like a reflex; Mummy says something, I say No.
GG has always been a happy soul, she's had the usual toddler tantrums and crankiness when she's tired etc., but her basic nature is sunshine. She is also usually very helpful, always wanting to do some small job; be the stirrer when I'm baking, help me weed the garden, pass me pegs as I hang washing etc., she just likes to be involved. This has stopped in the last week, anytime I ask her if she wants to help me, I get a firm No. She also used to be a quite agreeable girl, happy to go along with whatever I suggested, now she argues almost everything.
This morning I gave her a warning about the way she was behaving and was told, "Mummy, you need to watch your attitude". Hmmmm. Resisting the urge to throw something at her, I simply told her the way she was speaking to me was rude, and I wasn't interested in listening to her. She did actually say sorry at the time, so I left it, but a bit later I spoke to her about how it mightn't seem fair that she can't tell me what to do, but I can tell her, but that is because I am the adult, and my job is to teach her acceptable ways of behaving and speaking to people.
One of her favourite causes to rail against is the fact that I am in charge, and she will nearly always shout back, "No I am!!" I understand how frustrating it must be for her, she has just turned three and is just now realising how powerless she is, how many decisions are out of her hands. I am sort of proud of her for valuing her independence so much, and fighting so fiercely for it. I don't want to stamp that out, it will serve her well in the future, but I do need to find a channel for it. I give her as many opportunities as I can to let her make her own decisions, but instead of her demanding to wear a summer dress in cold, rainy weather, I give her three options, all clothes I am happy for her to wear, then she can choose from these. I create as many opportunites as I can at home to let her choose what we will do together, and I let her do as many things as she can for herself, like I make sure her shoes have velcro or elastic straps, so she can put them on herself.
I'm betting on my theory that this is just another phase, an exploration of what she can and can't do, and an experiment in what I'll let her get away with. I'm betting on the theory that children need parents (especially the main caregiver) who are confidently in charge, sure of themselves and consistent in the limits they set. The need to feel that someone who is capable of being in charge is in charge. So I'm going to give her those small accomplishments, just enough to retain that spark of independence, but try not to play into her drama so much and remain firmly, calmly in charge. I'm sure her natural inclination to want to be part of the team that is our family and help out will re-assert itself, as soon as she's done testing her limits.
And I'm pretty sure both of us will survive this phase. Just.