My husband and I have known for a while now that we're completely screwed for the teen years with our girls. More specifically, our oldest, Belle, is the one on our caution radar. She's just one of those kids who gravitates toward trouble. Danger should seriously be her middle name. And she thrives on defiance. This is well documented.
When she was 10 months old she was furious about the gates on our stairs, so she climbed the outside of the staircase instead. I'll never forget looking up from a sink full of dishes to find my baby, 6 stairs up, giggling with a wicked little grin like some sort of baby version of an American Ninja Warrior.
Point being, she's always been a daredevil, and 4.5 years in, I've learned to manage that and even celebrate/encourage it. But recently, we learned that she's added a new behavior to her repertoire: she's learned to be sneaky. And what's more concerning, she's discovered how to turn good children bad. How to convince them to take the naughty roads with her. So now I'm concerned.
My best friend came to stay with us for a few days with her two little ones: Dylan (same age as Belle, 4.5) and Theo (4 months). So with 4 kids and two very tired mommas, we had our hands full. At night when it was time to put the babies down, we left Dylan and Belle in front of the TV so Curious George could parent them for a half hour while we read books and rocked the babes to sleep.
On the third afternoon, out of the clear blue sky, Dylan (a rule follower through-and-through) launched into full-on confession mode:
D: Auntie Colleen, Belle has been sneaking us sugar before bedtime every night
B: NO I HAVEN'T!
D: Yes you have.
B: No, not sugar!
D: Yes, Belle. Chocolate is sugar.
Me: have you been sneaking chocolate while we put the babies to bed?
B: (huge smirk) yup.
.....this is where my mom super-power kicked in. Because I know my kid. I know logic means SHIT to her. I know fear usually works better. Remember when I told her bugs would live inside her butt if she didn't wear undies?
Me: "Belle! Don't you remember the episode of Daniel Tiger where he's allergic to peaches? You can't sneak food. Mommy and Daddy always have to know exactly what you eat because what if you have something you don't know if you're allergic to yet? Also, I keep vitamins in the same cabinet and you know that sometimes vitamins look like treats but they're not and you could get very sick if you eat the wrong thing."
I was so horrified I just let her ponder my Daniel Tiger reference for a minute and then went across the room to get something. As I looked back over my shoulder, I saw her furiously whispering in Dylan's ear "I told you not to tell!" in a nasty little tone.
Now, her chocolate addiction is also well documented. It's no secret that this kid will go to the ends of the earth for her next fix. It's her kryptonite.
But I truly had no idea she'd resorted to bringing other kids down with her. This was clearly premeditated deceit at it's best. And she knew it was so wrong that she even told Dylan not to tattle on her. WTF SHE'S FOUR!?
Jesus take the wheel. Is she gonna be the kid at the party who's like: "just have a beer, it won't hurt you. I SAID DO IT OR NO ONE WILL BE FRIENDS WITH YOU"....there's a good chance at this point. Am I getting a glimpse at what the teen years will look like? Probably. Am I terrified? Yes. 100% yes.
Obviously I need to nip the whole "dragging other kids down with her" thing in the bud sooner than later. She can be sneaky and defiant and wild all she wants - I can handle her (I think?), but turning good kids into naughty kids is not cool. So I'll start googling how to make sure my kid isn't the bad seed. I'm on it. But at the same time, while it's horrifying that she did this, it also kinda makes me love her even more. I just admire this little firecracker and her constant need to seek out the next best thing. She has this unique ability to make me furious, concerned and proud all in the same breath.
It all just reaffirms what I've known about her all along: she just wants to have fun. All day every day. She is the spice in my life. I remember when I was pregnant with her, my husband and I were sitting on the couch and I said "What if she's boring? Like one of those kids who is just blah. I hope she's not a dud."
He looked at me and laughed.