We are in the terrifying threes. Not just terrible but terrifying. Whereas Mac will use all sorts of rhetorical tricks and tropes to wheedle out of punishments and sanctions, Mac will at least play by the rules that everyone has agreed to. But Scarlett… Scarlett is doing something we are having a hard time trying to figure out how to react to, let alone countermand. It was like she was all sweetness and good during her first two years in order to get us to drop our guard, get complacent, fall asleep at the switch, and allow her to take over significant portions of our mental map before we could form an allied response.
Examples: You threaten her with a smack-bottom1 and she tells you go ahead, do your best. You tell her she will lose her toys, she responds she didn’t want them in the first place. You give her a direct order and she will look back with sparkling eyes and ever-widening smile, standing there, daring you to forget she is just three-years old and not some recidivist hooligan.
Recently, we had an event that crystallized the dilemma and signaled that she was going on the full offensive. For a few months now, Scarlett has been peeing in her pants again. She will stand there in the middle of the room and urinate down her leg onto the carpet. We’ve had to put her back in diapers which she did not, of course, refuse. So this past week, Jenn is watching Scarlett start to squirm again and exhorts Scarlett to use the toilet like a big girl and that she had better run over to the bathroom to pee and instead Scarlett runs up to Jenn and proceeds to urinate, forming a large, warm puddle right in front of Jenn’s chair. Jenn is aghast at her behavior and tells Scarlett not to step into the pee and then it happens: Scarlett looks down at the puddle and then cocks her head back up and dead-eyes Jenn while she proceeds to put her right foot directly into the middle of the puddle and turn her ankle in and out as if rubbing out the butt of a cigarette she has just taken her last drag off and flicked into the dirt, rubbing with slow, deliberate malice2 with the heel of her steal-toed boot, while slowly expelling smoke directly into Jenn’s eyes and channeling the leather-clad Sandy and her newly-found moxy at the end of Grease. There was a moment of stunned silence. The rest I can’t report because this is a public post, lest to say, we know we are in trouble.
After much thought, I realized we are in a pickle. Like I said with Mac, it is pretty simple to stick to your guns and not let him convince you to give in, but with Scarlett, you have no carrot, no common goal. What she is doing is negating/denying your presuppositions and removing the very base on which you stand. It is a radical skepticism that leaves nothing unquestioned, nothing truly knowable, and challenges convictions at their core. Suddenly you wonder if the totalitarianists weren’t right after all.
Although I gotta tell you another part me analyzes the situation and say: “She adapts to any situation and is bone headed stubborn… Learned well, she has, this young padawan.”
Yes, I know we are also against coporal punished but like Neville Chamberlain learned, appeasement only works for so long. [↩]
well, as much malice as a three year old can muster [↩]
that at 5’ish in the morning I felt a steady, unyeilding pressure at my back causing me to roll out of bed wondering just what was happening, only to find Scarlett and Mac, comfortably spread out, snoozing unperturbedly. I stumble downstairs to find Jenn sipping coffee and looking back in disbelief that our bed has been wordlessly and silently co-opted in a night-time operation worthy of Team 6.