By Heather Sadlemire
Let me set the scene for you. My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter wakes up in the morning, brushes her “Anna ala Coronation Day Hair” out of her eyes, and stretches her lanky limbs as she tosses them over the side of her toddler bed. She stands, puts on her gold-chained medallions and her big, black shades and walks downstairs with as much confidence as Beyonce performing at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, with Rick Ross’s “Everyday I’m Hustlin’” playing from a boom box on her shoulder.
Or, at least, that’s how I feel. Because, let me tell you – that girl is a hustler.
I will admit that I have enabled it. She is being parented by two adults who believe in giving her options (do you want peas or green beans?) and providing her choices (No, you don’t HAVE to eat all the beans, but if that’s the choice you make, then you will not be getting any ice cream, home slice. Thems the breaks, kid.) I’m a firm believer in “you don’t know unless you ask.” Of course we will teach her to respect authority, but respecting authority doesn’t mean that she should never question why she is being told to do something. In the years to come, the goal is to help her understand when she needs to do what she’s asked (like picking up her damn Shopkins – I’ll fight anyone who says a floor littered with Legos is worse) versus when she should voice an argument.
However, at some point in the last year, my girl has really upped her lawyer game. She believes everything is a negotiation. (I’ll stop you sancitmommies right there, because, no, that doesn’t mean everything actually IS a negotiation. I don’t let my daughter run my household/she is disciplined/we do have boundaries/I did breastfeed/Oh crap, but you’re right, I also drank coffee while I was pregnant, and, also, I watched The Walking Dead while she was in my womb, so this IS actually all my fault. Thanks for pointing it out okbyenow.)
You tell her she can have a cookie for a snack. “How ‘bout two, Mama?” You tell her it’s time for bed. “Actually, how ‘bout five more minutes?” (Asks the girl who can’t tell time.) She’s notorious for choosing a nighttime treat, eating half of it and then declaring, “Actually, I didn’t really want this,” as she tries to worm her way into a second snack. Her belly is often too full for dinner, but has leftover space in a magical compartment for treats. She’s too tired to dress herself in the morning, but, as it turns out, not too tired to watch Surprise Eggs on YouTube.
Last weekend, we were wrestling around and I told her I was done playing. A few moments later, I felt a foot to my jaw.
“Kid, did you just kick me in the face? AFTER I told you I was done playing?”
“Um, no Mama. My foot was just rubbing your chin.” (#alternativefacts)
Later that same day, I felt my aggravation brewing. I was fighting off a cold, I was tired, and I was frustrated that every one of my requests was met with a “But Mama, how ‘bout XYZ.” I told her it was time for us to collect our outside toys and wash up for dinner. “But Mama, I’m not actually hungry, so how ‘bout we keep playing and just eat dinner later?” I felt the words reach my tongue. “How about you just do what you’re told for once?”
But I stopped myself. Because that’s the one thing as a parent I swore I’d never do. We live in the drive-thru. Screen time limits are merely a suggestion. The amount of candy she eats is not something I’d admit to many. (I’m not sure her father even knows.) I’ve backpedaled on a lot of “I will nevers.” But I’m going to try damn hard not to crush her spirit. Because we live in a society that’s just dying to tell us what to do (this is particularly true for females) – what to eat, what to wear, how to think. I want her to keep Beyonce’s confidence. I wish I had it. I don’t want her to settle for something that doesn’t make her happy. The only person who can improve your life is you. She knows something at three that some adults never learn. If you want something, go after it. What’s the worst that can happen? You get shot down? You know what Poppy says (And I know you know what Poppy says. Everyone knows what Poppy says. Remember when we all wanted to stop watching Frozen and then Trolls came out on DVD? We were so naïve back then.): “If you knock knock me over, I will get back up again.”
So, I hope she keeps that hustlin’ attitude her whole life. I’m confident it will get her far. Although I’m not really sure where the gold-chained medallions came from. I’m sure she probably traded them for some stale goldfish to some sucker on the preschool playground. She never steals cars, but she deals hard…
About the Author
Heather is a marketing director and NY native (of the Upstate variety) who has to cover the last few pages of a good book with her hands so that she doesn’t skim ahead and ruin the ending. In between scouring the clearance racks at Target and stalking Mindy Kaling’s Twitter feed, she performs Disney numbers for her daughter (a preschooler who doesn’t object) and husband (who knew what he was getting into when he put a ring on it.) Follow her on Twitter. https://twitter.com/HeatherLWheeler