Today she was laying on her tummy on my bed and I was putting in The Sound of Music in the DVD player for her. This is what she said.
A - Mommy I like it when your mad. It makes me happy.
M - What?
A - I don't like it when you smile.
M - You don't like when mommy is happy? You'd rather I be mad all the time.
A - No, I like it when you are happy.
M - So then why did you say you like it when I am mad?
A - I don't know. It was a mistake. Sometimes I don't know what I am talking about.
And what did I do. Well obviously she is more psychologically savvy that me. I wandered out of the room scratching my head and wondering if she is another Freud in the making and how I will be blamed for it.
Now just reading this without being in the room with her in real time, I know she is trying to tell me something. She is not being clever even if it appears so. She is being four which at the best of times is confusing and random. Have you ever had a four year old try and tell you what happened in a piece of their day. They string everything together and refer to people in pronouns. And when you try to get them to tell you exactly who they are speaking about they act like you are just plain dumb.
If this is reverse psychology Avery is using on me intentionally then we have a genius on our hands. What I really think she wants me to know is that she sees me as being mad a lot and wants me to smile and be happy more. And that is true where she is concerned. As I said, we clash a lot. If there is anywhere in my life where I need patience the most it is with Avery. The problem is mine. She is four. This is what four years olds do. They push and they test and they push and they test. That is her job in the world right now. Mine is to guide her through this stage of her life in a way that helps her to become a good person. But instead I am short and crabby with her. In the face of her obstinacy and defiance I lose my temper. And around and around we go.
So other than building up my patience muscle which I am working on, I am going to start at the source of all this. Her need for my undivided attention. She is caught between two brothers. A baby who needs me for many things through out the day and an older brother who places demands on me in relationship to starting big kid school as well as his need for reassurance in the face of many fears and apprehensions. Avery is a spitfire. As she says "She is not afraid of anything." She has her shy moments but for the most part she is a tiger. This is taken for granted and maybe the reason why she feels she needs to act out to get attention.
Now that I remember, I think it began when Connor was born and I went to the hospital for a few days. Avery was just two years old. When I came back with the baby Avery would not let me leave her site. If I walked down the hallway out of view she would start crying hysterically. For weeks she would sob, "Don't leave me" when I got up to go somewhere in the house. After some passage of time she did realize I wasn't going anywhere but something had changed. She was no longer the baby. I had someone else who needed my attention. I think this was very hard on her though all of the implications that lead us to this point in time were still not clear.
Middle child syndrome... I lived it and I thought I was sensitive to it for Avery's sake but I have been blinded by impatience and selfishness. So my thought is that if I can spend more one on one time with her she will feel less need to try and gain my attention in other ways. I hope that the time we do spend together will be the making of happy memories where mommy is smiling and laughing.