Last week at daycare - I think it was a Tuesday - I dropped off Helen, trying my usual routine of getting her settled with a toy. Her usual routine is to realize I'm leaving, start to cry, and then I pass her off to the teacher. This particular morning, the teacher commented to me that Helen was a little "pushy."
The teacher is a very nice young lady, expecting her own child later this year, and her comment sort of took me by surprise. But I gave myself a moment to think it over - yeah, Helen can be pretty pushy. She fusses, and I respond by making whatever's annoying her go away, and the fussing stops. It's a pretty good system for her, so why should she think daycare would be any different?
Fast forward to two days later. I was at the daycare with Helen - actually sitting on the floor with her this time, playing with some blocks. No other parents were in the room, and the teacher took advantage of the opportunity to speak with me. She says (and I quote), "I hope you won't take this the wrong way ..."
Now we all know she's about to say something really nice, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.
"... but I wondered, do you have any rules for Helen at home?"
Gulp. Words every mother longs to hear, eh?
We actually do have rules for Helen. There's a short list Brian made last summer, posted on the refrigerator, titled "Rules for Helen." She's not allowed to hang out with the Smith Boys on her own (ever). She has to take swim lessons. She has to learn basic car maintenance. You know, things we want her to do or not do - but probably not what the daycare teacher meant.
So I had to stumble through the next few minutes with comments like, "Well, I've tried to put my foot down about her throwing food on the floor when she's done eating, but she just laughs at me." And I felt about 2 inches tall while I was doing it, too.
Her daycare teacher subtly suggested I needed to buckle down. As an example, when she's changing a kid's diaper, the rules say one hand on the kid at all times. Helen's across the room with another kid, and they're climbing on the table. The teacher tells them to get off the table and come stand by her. Every kid EXCEPT Helen obeys the teacher. It's like Helen doesn't listen to her.
(If you were wondering what that sound was, it's Helen's grandparents laughing hysterically. Cackling with glee, even.)
It's hard for Brian and I to be tough with her. You've seen her. Cute as a bug, eh? She gets fussy, and it's usually because she's upset with some sudden change. It's easier to fix whatever's wrong and get her quiet again, instead of letting her work through her frustration and settle herself. I can continue to fix things for her, but it could hurt her chances to pick up the tools to figure out this crazy world we live in.
It's part of being a parent, making sure she learns how to be a good girl. I just didn't realize it started SO SOON. I'm still back at "sleep through the night." Can we slow this down a little, please? Thanks.