At first, I kept blaming our busy schedule. We had the holidays, which included lots of traveling, houseguests and sugar. Then, it was simply us trying to get back into our routine.
But now? Well, I’m out of excuses and starting to face an ugly truth — our daughter is turning into a brat.
OK, that’s harsh. But suddenly, our sweet, sweet girl who used to listen and was always up for anything (you know, the random three-Disney park day with her dad) is gone. And in her place is a sulking, whining, crying, dramatic and defiant almost 4-year-old. Who knew that 4 was the new 14?
Every single thing lately seems to send her into a crying fit. And if my husband and I dare to tell her no, the tantrums ensue.
This weekend, we had friends in town, which included their adorable 3-year-old. At first, E. did a really good job sharing her toys. She was even excited to have her very first sleepover.
But it didn’t last. We gave the girls about 90 minutes and they still wouldn’t calm down. If we didn’t have plans the following morning, we might have let them keep being silly as long as it took them to pass out, but we were taking our friends to Disney for their very first time. That’s a BIG day. Plus, they’d been traveling all day to get to our house. Our littlest houseguest was clearly ready to sleep. But E. kept talking and talking and talking (gee, wonder where she gets it?). And yelling and yelling and yelling. Between the four of us parents, we went in to give them warnings at least 7 times.
Finally, at about 10:30 we pulled E. Oh, the meltdown. One solid hour of her screaming and me having to lock myself in my bedroom with her ensued. It was not fun. There was hitting, slamming her body on the ground and just general hysterics.
Saturday morning wasn’t much better. Given her late-night dramatics, she was not a happy camper when we arrived bright and early at Magic Kingdom. For the first three hours or so, this was pretty much her general demeanor.
Look at how desperate poor DadJovi is as he tries to negotiate her behavior. E. is a master stonewaller already, though. (Is this your homework, Larry?)
I know it seemed worse to DadJovi and I than it did to our friends, but it was very frustrating. She’s apparently just gotten to used to having her own way, particularly at Disney. I know it’s a product of her being an only child — she’s used to going where she wants, when she wants (within reason, obviously) at Disney. The concept of allowing other kids to pick the rides is completely foreign to her, and, as we learned the hard way, infuriating for her.
By lunchtime, she started turning her attitude around and the second half of the day was much better than the first half. By dinner time, our shiny, happy girl seemed to be back.
But the damage was done. DadJovi is done with the attitude. In fact, he was ready to cancel this weekend’s birthday trip to the Blue Devil’s House, aka Duke. When E. said that’s what she wanted instead of a birthday party, that’s what her dad planned (hmmm, maybe I see where some of that spoiling is coming from). But I had to convince him that she’s not a teenager who has broken curfew over and over again — she IS still a 3-year-old trying to flex her independence muscles.
It’s been very frustrating though. This wasn’t just one weekend; it’s an ongoing, chronic problem. Every little no from us results in waterworks and fits from her. I’m terrified that this weekend is going to consist of bribes and threats for her to be good, tantrums, an angry dad and a stressed out mom stuck in the middle.
Listen, I don’t want her to be an obedient robot. I love her spirit and yes, independence. Someday those will be amazing character traits. Someday. For now, they exist simply to torture me.
Thankfully, this is the last major thing on the agenda for the coming months. Then, it’s time for Attitude Boot Camp! Is this normal? Are 4-year-olds just whiny in general? What helps you distract your kids when they act like this? Or have we just created a monster? I keep telling DadJovi the only solution is to force her to not be the center of attention by having a second child. So far, he’s not buying it. At this rate, boarding school is starting to look like a good option.