A is the boss of the house. Or so she thinks. Sometimes A is feeling very impressed with something she has done and might remark, “Wasn’t that a very six-years-old way that I got the cheese out of the fridge?” If I agree and say, yes it was in fact a very six-years-old way to get the cheese, she is instilled with just enough confidence to keep going. She then informs me about all the things that four-years-olds, five-years-olds and six-years-olds like to do with their spare time. “Sometimes four-years-olds really like to get cheese out of the fridge because they are feeling grown up, but four-years-olds also really like to get the mail. AND they like to unlock the door when the babysitter comes. They get very upset when their moms do it for them.” When she says this she tries to align her gaze with mine. Almost as if her general assessment of four-years-olds is directed towards me.
When we were moving last winter and people were coming to look at our house, A would try to take direction of the tour. She had seen enough Fixer Uppers that she felt like she knew her way around tour-guiding houses. “And this…” she would say, “is the room where Mom puts all the things she doesn’t want to put away.” She would then quickly transition to the Master and and all it’s dazzling features. Including the accompanying “ensuite”. Let me tell you this. There was nothing ensuite about that bathroom. The house was 1400 sq. ft, built in the fifty’s, and probably updated once in the seventy’s. It worked for our needs, but it definitely did not have an ensuite.
A likes to talk a lot and fortunately for her, unfortunately for me since I am the topic of it, she has plenty of opportunities to exercise her skill. At E’s Early Intervention Playgroup she told his teachers, “My mom doesn’t have time to play with me ever so she hired a babysitter to do it instead.” This is accompanied by A putting her positive spin on the situation. “Isn’t that so nice of her?” I told them that I recently hired a babysitter to help out and when we got home I went over with A all the times that day that I had played with her.
My mother-in-law has been visiting this week, which has been wonderful to have the help. She has been getting the kids for me in the morning so that I can sleep in. On the first morning that she got up with them, I overheard A giving her the rundown of our household. “Every morning I wake up first, then I go into E’s room and I play with him. Then I have to take care of him. I feed him breakfast and make sure he is safe. I help out with my brother A LOT. Mommy really likes to sleep. Sometimes she sleeps so late that we miss lunch.” She probably would have kept incriminating me, but I ran out of my bedroom faster than I have ever gotten up in the morning and interjected. I let my mother-in-law know that A sometimes goes in first to get E while I get dressed and plays with him in his room. The breakfast that she gets him consists of old Easter, Halloween, or Christmas Candy that she hides throughout the house. Lastly, A mixes up her meals and often mistakes breakfast for lunch. I am grateful for a mother-in-law who knows me well and knows that I am quite involved with my children and would never leave my “four-years-old” to care for my highly active two-year-old with autism.
I realize how easily my praise for A goes to her head. My telling her that she does such a good job helping with her brother and that I appreciate her help, translates in her mind to pretty much her running the house and being a super awesome four-year-old who takes care of her brother all the time. My sleep deprived pleas to her at four am to go back to bed and that I really like my sleep translates to me liking my sleep so much that I sleep through not one, but two important meals.
A is very precocious and it’s cute, but it more often borders on her thinking she is actually in charge. What is it with kids? You give them a compliment and they internalize it forever. I remember as a kid, someone said I had a good voice and I started practicing everyday in my room dreaming of the day that I would be discovered and turned into a famous pop star. After all, someone did say I had a good voice. Why wouldn’t that happen?
We hate to discourage A from being confident, but sometimes we do need to put a dent in her massive ego. We remind her that we are the parents and she is the child. She responds with, “Okay Mom”, or “Okay Dad”, and runs off. We know that deep down she still thinks that she runs the place. The next person who comes over she will be telling all about how Daddy loves video games so much he should have a video game themed birthday party and Mommy feeds us Diet Coke allllll the time.