I know I said I wasn’t going to do any more Sam Updates, but now that six months have gone by, I feel the urge again. Maybe half-year installments are more appropriate now that she doesn’t change so quickly.
But in six months – wow – how much she has changed! I guess the two big things are the potty training and her big-girl bed , both of which I’ve written about before. Recently we had a breakthrough that relates to both of them. Sam woke up from her nap, used the bathroom, then went back to sleep! This bodes well for getting rid of the nighttime diaper, but I’m not going to push it. I tried taking away the little pot kind of potties since she was using the regular toilets most of the time, but as soon as I did, she regressed and now I’m dealing with 4-5 accidents each day again.
Of course, Sammy’s communication skills have improved a lot since September. She can talk on the phone a little bit, although even her dad isn’t able to understand what she’s saying. But she’s starting to understand that she needs to speak up, and that the person on the other side can hear her but not see her. She likes to talk to strangers. She tells them about whatever is on her mind – a little bit of the Snow White story, how she scraped her toe when she ran outside barefoot, or how her dog got an ear infection. She uses complete sentences much of the time, although she still has the persistent pronoun problem at times.
It’s hard to tell what progress she is making in school. She seems to like polishing and cleaning and coloring the best, but I know she does other things, too. I am a little bit concerned because her teacher just told me that Sammy seems to feel it necessary to ask if she can do something instead of just doing it. If you aren’t familiar with Montessori’s prepared environment, the classroom is set up so that the children (as young as 3) can walk around the room and choose what they want to work on independently. Most of the materials have built-in feedback so that a teacher doesn’t need to tell the child if she did it right or wrong, so there is minimal adult involvement. But Sammy apparently asks before choosing anything. She is such a strange mix of independent and needy. I can see both aspects of it at home, now that I’ve heard it from the teacher, but I don’t know if it is a problem and if so, what I could do about it. It’s something to keep my eye on.
She has just learned to count. It seems like she should have known how to do this long ago, but up until now, it’s all been just mimicking sounds. “One, two, three…” was just a series of words for her. She recited numbers up to twenty a long time ago (if you ignore The Number Which Must Not Be Named – fifteen), but she could not count objects past two. She either didn’t understand the concept, or she just couldn’t coordinate pointing at things in succession and counting them. Now, all of a sudden, she is counting everything. I’m not sure how high she can get reliably, but with a little help (around the mid-teens), she counted 24 Goldfish crackers the other day. Since I’m more of a math person, this is fun for me!
Sammy’s self-awareness amazes me. She needs to work on distinguishing emotions like frustration, disappointment, or excitement, but she understands and can identify happy, sad, and angry very well. When she is angry, sometimes she will “zip her lip” (to stop herself from yelling at us) and go up to her room on her own to calm down. Sometimes she’ll say, I NEED TO GO BE BY MYSELF RIGHT NOW! and she’ll do just that. I guess she’s had a lot of practice, since she seems to have been perpetually angry for the past six months. I’m sure that’s not accurate, but it feels that way. I guess this is part of what being three years old is all about.
Since we’ve been struggling with the potty we’ve been having more conflicts, and I’ve gotten back into a bad habit of nagging her to use the potty. I mean, I know when she needs to go. It’s perfectly obvious. And once the accidents started I tried to head them off by reminding her to go. The other day we went out for a walk and after 5 minutes she just stopped and stood still and wouldn’t move. She was holding in an impending bowel movement. I asked if she needed to use the potty and she said, NO, which she says every time. I got frustrated and said we needed to go home and she threw a fit. I had to threaten to carry her home and abandon her scooter before she would walk with me, and even then, it was a rough walk home.
Later that afternoon, when we were just snuggling on the sofa and I had totally forgotten the incident, she said to me (and I got this down verbatim):
I’M NOT FEELING VERY HAPPY RIGHT NOW.
YOU KEEP TELLING ME TO GO TO THE POTTY AND THAT MAKES ME ANGRY.
She said it calmly and with such assurance. It was like I was talking to an adult! God, that girl is amazing! I immediately apologized for nagging her all the time, and I told her that I would stop. She agreed to try harder to use the potty. (It’s too early to know if there will be any positive results, but I do know that she was entirely right in her complaint.)
Despite all of the good, this is the first period where I can’t say that this parenting thing just keeps getting better and better. It’s been a rough six months. Most of it is just the nature of her age, but also, I can see aspects of Sam’s personality that I don’t particularly like. She’s a hot-head like her mom and dad, and she converts all negative emotions into anger. I can’t force her to change, but have to somehow help her see, in an age-appropriate way, how she can better identify those emotions and then think about how to solve the problem. I think she is doing extremely well for her age, but I do get tired of being yelled at all day. And, of course, overall, I find her developing personality fascinating and wonderful. I wonder what she’ll be like in six more months.