The Bean has been going through a rough patch for the last few months. She's been defiant and bull-headed in a way that makes bulls seem somewhat reasonable and even-keeled... someone you'd consider inviting out to Girls Night.
At first, we thought it was just a phase... that she would grow out of it. But it's been like a bad case of plantar fasciitis (I happen to know a little about that)... that's gotten worse and more inflammed and even alcohol can't help it. And I am honestly at the end of my very, very long rope with her.
We've tried everything. Reasoning... choice and consequence... sending her to her room... taking away her blankie... out right yelling... threatening to give Waldo away (yea, I sooooo went there)... and even threatening to leave her at gymnastics overnight because she refused to put on her pants and shoes after class when it was time to go.
Five points if you can you spot the slow spiral down to Insanity Parenting.
Her teacher has been flummoxed as well. She's pulled me aside several times and asked what type of things work for us when she's being so defiant and I was all: "Dude! Don't ask me!!! I threatened to give the cat away last night... I'm bottom of the barrel here!"
Yesterday was another rough day for her in school and she got an incident report for being.. well, a general asshole to everyone at school and was sent to the equivalent of the Principal's Office at the day care. Great... she's THAT kid.
After signing off on the report and taking my copy, I walked into her room where she was playing with her little friends. She saw me and did her usual routine of: "Yay! Mama's here!" while clapping her hands and jumping up and down. Which is hands down the best greeting you can ever ask for, but I digress.
I looked at her and held up the folded piece of yellow paper that was the copy of the report. And this child's demeanor changed mid-jump and clap. She lowered her chin down to her chest and wouldn't make eye contact. Her response was exactly like Bonnie's response when I catch her eating underwear. I didn't have to say a word. She knew. SHE KNOWS SHE'S SCREWING UP. Which means there's legitimately something going on here... not just the Being An Asshole Phase I was chalking it up to.
That night, I had a heart-to-heart with her. In the past, thinking maybe it was a personality conflict with the teacher, I have asked her if she liked her teacher, Ms. Jennifer. She would always respond that she loved Ms. Jennifer. Then I would ask her what was wrong... and she would say she didn't know.
Last night, I asked her if she liked her class... because it only takes me four months to try phrasing the question differently... because I'm super on-point like that. She once again hung her head down and shook her head no.
With a quivering lip: "Betuz... I'm bored. There's widdow kids in there and I'm a big girl and everything we do is bowing."
"Oh! Well... you know what? We can put you in a big kid class with older kids."
"Absolutely! Would you like to do that?"
She looked up at me then, with big blue eyes and unshed tears and choked out:
"But... I still wuv Ms. Jennifer!"
"That's okay, sweetie! She knows you love her... but she knows you're almost four and need to be with the big kids. And you'll love your new teacher, too!"
At that point, the smile and joy that had been missing from her face whenever the subject of school came up, returned. Her smile was so big I thought her face might break and she hugged me around my neck so tightly that I thought I might pass out.
"I wanna go to the big kid class! And I get to learn things and even have homework, right?"
This morning, I dropped her off at school and she marched right into her new class, no questions asked. Her only concern was that she didn't have a cubby yet. "Dude... relax. We like JUST got here and the decision to bring you into this class happened about 12 hours ago."
She got over it quickly and grabbed my hand and walked with me to the cafeteria, where she walked right up to her new class, sat down and ate breakfast with all the big kids. I kissed her, wished her luck, told her to be the best her she could be and that I loved her. She beamed at me and told me she loved me.
It was the first time in weeks that she hadn't clung to me and sobbed when I left.
How could I not have figured this out sooner?
Sometimes I don't give The Bean the benefit of the doubt. She's always been a rascal and she likes to push limits and doesn't always seem congnizant of other people's feelings... and doesn't talk about her feelings.
I should know this by now. I realize now that she does care and she does love people deeply... she just doesn't wear it on her sleeve like her sister does.
When I left my little Bean... the one I feel like I need to protect much more than her sissy because I still remember when she came out of me and couldn't breathe... well, she was sitting in that cafeteria, happily eating her breakfast surrounded by new big-kid friends.
She. Was. Beaming.