Thursday, August 07, 2008

The good,the bad, and the ugly

The Good:

Maggie was in swim classes at the Y this week. First of all, nothing is cuter than a happy little three-year-old in her "swimming suit"and her hair in a ponytail and her goggles (she insisted), making friends with her whole class and embracing her pal from preschool that was taking the class with her.

And nothing will break your heart more than standing behind the plate glass window that flanks the pool and watching that three year old scream and sob in full, abject terror once she got in the water and realized how deep it was (almost exactly as deep as she is tall).

After class, she walked through the showers holding her instructor's hand and just stood there, eyes, nose and cheeks beet red from crying, her little shoulders slumped and a look of total defeat on her face. I held my arms out to her and she grabbed onto me for a long time, wailing.

But I am so proud of that little girl of mine. Despite her terror, despite sobbing the whole way home that she didn't like swimming class and she was too scared to go in the pool, despite spending the whole next day intermittently bursting into tears about how scared she was, brave little Maggie went to class the next day, and the next. We'd asked her to give it one more try, thinking she might be OK once the initial strangeness of the pool faded, and told her she didn't have to go again if she didn't want to after the second night.

Well, that night a private lesson didn't show, so the instructor who was there for the lesson took Maggie aside and just drifted with her slowly through the water, talking her through it and coaxing her to try paddling with her feet and then her arms. I was gone, but Paul told me she was absolutely joyous at the end of class.

The next night didn't go well -- I was half laughing, half heartbroken watching her literally crabwalk backwards from the side of the pool when her turn was approaching, so we told her she'd given it a good try like she asked and she didn't have to go tonight, the last night of class, if she didn't want to.

She opted not to go, which was fine with us. Overindulgent? Probably, but she's three. And was petrified.

I'm just so proud of her for trying again. She did something a lot of adults can't do -- fail at something, be terrified of it, and go back to face it again, even though she was scared. Her strong will is driving me crazy right now, but that's the flipside of it, right there -- that little girl is made of tough stuff. And I couldn't be more proud.

Props to the swim instructors at South Oakland Y, too -- they could not have been kinder or more encouraging, congratulating her for doing a great job, ending class with high fives, and gently urging her to try when she was freaking out.

So that Olympic swimming gold? Probably not going to Maggie.

The Bad

It''s good she's done something so great because SHE IS KILLING ME. Twice she's peed on the floor (once) and the couch (once), on purpose. She knows how to get to the potty, knows how to get on it, and both times it was after she asked me to come sit with her and I was busy, so she revenge peed. ARGH. And she took off running away from me at Target, giggling. Like it was a game. And today at the park, same deal (toward a very busy street, no less) and then looked right at me and said "NO" while she shook her head when I asked her to leave the milk jug alone and close the fridge, I would get her her milk in a minute. I had her in a time out for like ten minutes, and yesterday I think it stretched to twenty, and I yelled at her so loud I'm pretty sure the neighbors heard. And even raised my voice to sweet little Will, who was screeching at being left in his car seat during the TO.

My mom's theory is sibling issues combined with psycho three-year-old stuff, and so we've begun scheduling one-on-one time with her and each parent. "Mommy and Maggie dates." Last week we went to the park and to the bakery for a cupcake, Where she proceded to run down long hallway away from me and I got the "What a horrible mother" look. Again.

And she was up at 6:30 today and finally made a break for downstairs after we told her NO, her choices were to lay quietly with us or play in her room.

I am losing my damn mind here, people. No lie. I'm reading "Raising Your Spirited Child" and trying not to let this damage my relationship with her, but is it so difficult to just DO WHAT SHE'S TOLD?

Ahhh. More wine, please.

The Ugly:

My yard. My mangy cat who had like five bg mats cut out of his back by Paul. And more often than not, my mood.


Em said...

The will of a 3 year old has far surpassed my own. I am impressed.

Way to go, Maggie :o)

caramama said...

That's great that she tried the swimming class again.

I'm so sorry about how you have to deal with that defiant phase and sibling issues. I hear 3 can be rough. I hope it doesn't last long.

apt said...

Isn't it maddening how someone's best trait can also produce the worst behaviors?
I hope she chills out soon, but keeps all of the strength and character.

Oz said...

My dog has used revenge pee to express his displeasure at the arrival of our human baby. It sucks.

I am really impressed by Maggie's swimming bravery!

tripmom827 said...

I hope that things are going a little better for you. I am always amazed at how the qualities that I think are my best can also be my downfall. Guess it's the same with 3 year olds!! Hang in there!