Remember back in the spring, when I was all braggy about the fact that the Terrible Two's in our house weren't terrible at all, but were in fact, delightful?
Well, this is me eating those snarky words.
All I can say is, Oh. Ehm. Gee.
The Threes. The Threes. THE THREES!
I don't know how this happened, but upon turning three, and if you want to get technical, it's really been upon turning three and four months, my beautiful, precious, spectacular, miraculous daughter has become an obstinate, inflexible, stubborn, opinionated, argumentative she-devil.
Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said that last part -- she really isn't that opinionated.
(Listen! Do you hear that? It's the sound of my mother snickering...)
Take Friday for example.
Chris was out of town, and from the moment she rolled out of bed, Aria stood in direct opposition to everything I could possibly say or do all day. "Aria, we're leaving, you need to go potty", was met with, "NO! NO! NO!"; refusal to purchase a snack at the gym garnered a full-on temper tantrum in the lobby, complete with boneless melting to the floor in protest (which, I don't know if you've experienced this, but it really chaps my hide); and so on. You get the point.
Sidebar: It is here that I would like to introduce a little observation Chris and I have made along the way as we have learned to be parents these past almost two years: although we are as genetically different as two people can possibly be, Aria Grace and I could not be more alike than if scientists had removed strands of my DNA, cultured it in a petri dish, and grew a little Sarah clone. It's scary how alike we are.
(Insert sound of my mother laughing - no, make that, slapping her knees and guffawing at this irony. Mom, do you mind? I can hear you all the way out here in Texas).
The thing is, 98% of the time, she's a happy, loving child, who goes with the flow, and is always smiling or offering a hug. But the other 2% of the time? Have mercy.
The really funny part in all this, is that I'm really, really trying to pay attention to how I parent the girls. Chris and I are taking Dr. Larry Taylor's Kingdom Parenting class at church, and it has been such an eye-opener about how every little thing, said or unsaid, every move you make as a parent can have critical, lasting impact on your child, emotionally, physically, developmentally, and most important, spiritually. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a KP class, don't turn it down. It is invaluable.
In Luke 6:40, Jesus tells his followers, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher". When you translate this to parenting, it means our kids are going to be just like us. How do we look? Do we look like Jesus to our kids? Dr. Taylor says we have 6,570 days with our kids from birth to diploma. In our case, since we adopted Aria at 19 months and we missed out on 570 days, we essentially have 6,000 days with her until she leaves the nest and heads to Clemson, I mean, the college of her choice (Clemson).
6,000 days! 6,000 days to look like Jesus to my child. That doesn't sound like enough, does it?
So back to Friday and my complete unraveling. At the end of this particularly challenging day, after another battle of wills with Madame Snakeoil and innumerable time-outs, I sat her down and we had a Come to Jesus about her behavior. Eye to eye, mother to child, we had our most serious talk yet.
"Aria. This behavior - the whining, arguing, talking back to Mommy - this will not be tolerated. This is not how our family works. We love each other and we love God, and we need to act like it. You need to do what Mommy and Daddy tell you to do, and you need to do it with a happy heart, not arguing and temper-tantrums".
"So we are going to need to make some changes. And I am going to give you a choice. You can control your own actions and what happens to you, okay? If this behavior continues, there will be some consequences. And here is what will happen: First, you will be sent to your room for time-out for ten minutes, maybe more depending on whether or not you obey. Second, if the behavior continues, you may get a spanking. Next, if it still continues, I will take all your Halloween candy, and I will throw it away. Gone".
"And finally, Aria, and I want you to listen to me very closely on this. If you continue to disobey Mommy and Daddy and argue and fight with us, here is what will happen: I will call Santa. I will tell him you have not obeyed your parents, and I will tell him not to bring you anything on Christmas morning."
I said that. Even writing it now, I can't believe I said it. But I did. I actually threatened her with Santa.
Not to mention the flashbacks I was having to my own childhood and hearing that same thing from my parents for like, 6570 days or something. Give or take.
But guess what? It seemed to be the only thing that got through that precious, brilliant, little thick head of hers. She sat up straighter, looked me in the eye and said very earnestly, "But Mommy, I really, really want Santa to bring me a present!" I assured her that he absolutely would if she tried really hard to obey, and to not talk back or argue. "I will, I promise!" she cried.
So yes, I realize Jesus probably wouldn't have exercised The Santa Threat, and I'm doing my best to reconcile that with what I'm learning in parenting class, but for the time being, Madame Snakeoil is gone and harmony has been restored to the Thomas house.
Good thing, because Santa did some recon last week and procured an extremely cool present, something he is very excited about presenting to the Thomas girls on Christmas morning.