Monday, May 14, 2007

Naughty Nutmeg

We had a wonderful 3-day Mother's Day Weekend in Wisconsin, marred by a couple of Naughty Nutmeg incidents. She got angry twice at my parents' house. One of those times, she willfully squatted and peed on their kitchen rug. The other time, she smacked a cup of chocolate milkshake and it landed all over my poor mother's carpet and wall. It even spattered some poor stuffed bunnies wearing their Sunday best.

Oxyclean and Resolve removed most evidence of the incident from the living room, but not from my mind. Epu and I have grown increasingly frustrated with Nutmeg's behavior. We feel like we are not spoiling her, but her behavior tells us a different story. We do time outs. We present consequences. We are consistent. What are we doing wrong?

Last night I took a bath with Nutmeg and had a lovely talk with her about her recent behavior, both naught and nice, and what kinds of things we'd like to see more of in the future. She is invariable as sweet as honey when having one-on-one time, and I went to bed feeling like things would get better.

This morning she climbed into bed with us as she often does. Then she got bored and woke Epu by blowing a loud raspberry right in his face. We evicted her from bed, which of course provoked a noisy tantrum.

This is where I admit that sometimes I dislike my own child. It doesn't help that Filbertine is such a little ball of sunshine right now, gummily grinning and practicing her giggle at anyone who looks at her. On days like this, it's hard not to look at Fil as the original, well-functioning product and Nutmeg as the model we have obviously run right off the road with our careless parenting.

Nutmeg did settle down, but then after I dropped her off at playschool I got a call from the teacher: Nutmeg was just being too crazy and she needed me to come back to the school. Apparently Nutmeg had been dumping sand on kids' heads and the teacher was not successful in redirecting her. That's right, I'm the mother of a 3-year-old JD.

When I arrived at playschool from the cafe down the street, Nutmeg was quietly doing artwork, and the teacher commented that if she had remembered how much Nutmeg likes to do art she would have redirected her to that right away and it wouldn't have been such a big problem. Obviously, I was chagrined at getting a phone call from the teacher at her very first school.

But then I stood around talking with the teacher, who also has a 3-year-old and a baby. She shared stories with me about how her 3-year-old, too, has been acting out since the baby showed up. And this baby is 10 months old already. And, this is the teacher who's gentle "redirections" seem to be so effective on the little ones at playschool.

When I said I felt like we were out of tactics to modify Nutmeg's behavior, she also sold me a book called "Siblings Without Rivalry." She said this gave her a lot of new ideas.

As if I wasn't already in love with this teacher, she gave me a few parting words, "You know, I think Nutmeg's really smart. That might make things a little harder for you."

What parent doesn't want to hear that? It's not that my child is a brat, it's that she's so gifted that she can't relate to these other kids, or she's figured out that the rules are irrelevant, or, blah blah blah.

OK, so I appreciated her noticing that Nutmeg's bright. But I'm bright, too, bright enough to know that a high IQ is not letting either of us off the hook. Smart kids who can't behave or work with others don't have more going for them than middle-of-the-road kids who can. Often it's the average kids who do better, and are happier.

So in this area, if you're reading this, Nutmeg, let's work towards average.*

* Of course, she can't read this yet. What she can read: Her name, "zoo," "boo," "no," "dog," "go," "mama." Maybe a few others that I can't think of right now.


Moxie Mom said...

What can I say that wouldn't sound corny or condicending??

We found that the height of SweetP's attitude came at 3-years-old. But by 4, she was sweet as pie again.

She, too, got a sibling at that age. She disliked the attention her brother got. She acted out, painted the carpet, hit friends, spilled food, you name it.

She eventually figured out the baby wasn't going away and she had to live with that. Then she settled down. But I highly agree, it's the smart ones you have to watch for.

SweetP would hide Logan's pacifier. We would look and look for it. She would say, "I'll help!" knowing exactly where it was. Therefore she could get the praise for finding it.

They know, all too well, how to really piss you off! sneaky buggers :-)

Notta Wallflower said...

Hmm... if it makes you feel any better, I think it's good that Nutmeg has "energy". I know you like it that Filbertine is laid back, but so was my son, and now he's a laid back teen (not so great). You literally have to light a fire under his ass to get him to do anything. My guess is that Nut won't have that difficulty. The only thing now is to get her to use her superpowers for good, not evil. :-P