I should have known the lookout wasn't good when she got no nap, but in a habit born of necessity, I just kept on track with our plans for a day out.
At just 2 1/2 years old, F is struggling with some serious demons known to the rest of the world as "sharing," "care," and "gentleness". These three are not her friends, and she makes that quite plain. She is also the oldest in the group (and baby K is the youngest).
By the end of our visit, the tally was high:
- 1 newly walking little boy had been hit over the head with a toy baby stroller,
- 1 crawler had been run over with said stroller,
- 2 eardrum-splitting tantrums had our attention and
- the baby hostess (in this case a *tiny* 15month old) had been shoved into a wall after territory dispute regarding a chalkboard).
(Side Question: Does anyone have advice on how to teach a child how to peacefully interact with other, particularly younger, children while also keeping up with a 6 1/2 month old? I find that holding an infant inhibits my otherwise cat-like reflexes that are in high demand when object and elbows start being thrown.)
Needless to say, F was reprimanded and we even left early as a punishment. After a silent care ride home, she suddenly engaged me in conversation as I untangled her from her car seat.
"What I do at party?"
"You need to sit on the potty?"
I'm still learning how to speak her language, and right now "party" and "potty" are the same on the ear.
"No, what I do at party?"
"Oh. Well, what did you do at the party? You tell me."
I can never tell with F if she is asking me a question because she actually wants me to answer, or just as an opener for her own thoughts.
"What I do at party?"
She actually wanted me to answer.
"Let's see, you played with a baby and a stroller. You did some puzzles and wrote on the chalkboard and had a snack. But you also hit your friends and screamed and cried, and you pushed Lucy down. It was very bad. You have to learn to be nice and polite, otherwise no one will want to play with you."
Honestly, I was totally exhausted. It's amazing what a toll this type of thing can take on one's energy level.
"F, do you want to watch a movie?"
This was me caving to my exhaustion. I just couldn't face trying to make dinner with her underfoot.
"Yes....No. I just want to hide for a minute."
This is truly remarkable because a) she never refuses an movie watching opportunity and b) what's with the hiding?
"You want to hide somewhere?" At this point we'd made it into the mudroom and I removed her coat and tiny snow boots.
"Yes. Can I hide in your room?"
"You can hide in the nursery, is that okay?"
"Shew." (translation: "sure")
I opened the door to the main house, and she soberly scampered (is that even possible?) into her own room where she remains to this moment, reading to herself quietly on the couch.
We all have bad days. She doesn't want to share, and really, who does? But I hope this concept of removing herself from the chaos and recouping with some quiet time alone, sticks. And I wish more adults had the ability to recognize when they just need to go hide for a minute.