A stranger seems to have infiltrated my house. It started out innocently enough… a forgotten please here, a misplaced thank you there, a testing of the parental limits here and there and the next thing you know there is a little three and a half year old tyrant living under my roof.
Ok, maybe I am overexaggerating a bit here, but still it’s behavior I was sure that I would never see in my child. The Mister and I do not believe in corporal punishment on principal, but I will tell you, there are in some instances in which I can understand why some parents choose to employ the method. Since she was smaller and learning to talk, we would instruct our daughter to “use her words.” We would give her the words that are hard to explain without experiencing them first-hand: frustrated, embarrassed, proud, extentialism etc. But the funny (or maybe ironic) thing is that our current parenting challenge revolves around the amount of sass that is now in her vocabulary and mama and daddy are getting tired of using their words over and ever again. All of this has made me wonder, is sass innate or is it learned?
We guard what programs The Bear is allowed to watch: Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and most recently (*shudder*) Dora. 95% of the time, I am watching with her or in the same room (unless I take the time to shower or switch laundry and in those cases I am gone for at most 15 minutes) so I don’t think the sass is coming from her limited TV. I don’t believe books to be the culprit as she is still read to, and The Mister and I would not be reading books to her with sassy language. Could it be school? Maybe. But, then again, I do have friends who have sassy children and their children are not attending preschool. Who knows.
So what am I counting as sassy talk, I am sure you want to know? I know that sassiness is a very subjective area, as one person’s sassiness is another’s… I don’t know what else it could be to be honest. So, the sass:
– The most frequent form comes in the style of “limit setting.” If I tell The Bear she cannot have a snack because we will be having dinner when the Big Hand is on the Twelve, she will start to plead over and over “Snack. Snack. Snack.” If I tell The Bear that she’s run out of time for stories because she took too much time brushing her teeth at night (we have clocks, both digital and analog all over our house and she knows when she needs to be done for stories. She is a noted dawdler and we had to employ the clocks/ timer method because bedtime routine was taking so long and she was getting short changed on sleep) she will plead “Stories. Stories. Stories.” Usually this results in Mama or Daddy getting frustrated and raising their voices at her. I don’t know if that is her goal but it is what happens. I try to ignore it, but it’s at that just right level of irritation that it just grates on you.
-Another is a classic: If I say “No, you may not.” She will counter with “Yes!” and if she is feeling particularly cheeky, a blood curdling scream will follow. Lovely.
-The third is flat out disobedience. The Mister and I are believers in a child obeying her parents. We are fine with questioning and answering those questions, but that doesn’t change the fact that something was requested of you and you should do it. It’s just good manners. And, yes, we do precede and follow our requests with “Please” and “Thank You,” after all, we are always, always modeling.
I don’t know. Maybe it is all of our fault for being so regimented and expecting our children to act “right” at all times. I guess I can take some solace in that her ill-manners usually only manifest themselves when she is tired but I’m usually tired when she is tired and my patience is so thin at that point, it’s so hard to keep modeling the good behavior… and maybe that is where the ill is coming from. Whatever the cause, I am so ready for the next, because as with everything in life, both good and bad, “this, too, shall pass.”
Can’t wait for the tween years. Oy.