Friday, January 08, 2010

Do I really WANT her to be the good kid?

Ada is very good friends with Lila, the girl down the street. Ada has told us that when they are grown, she and Lila will get married and have babies together. Lila's mom reports that Lila has the same plan.

This close friendship is as I'd hoped, but it is not without its down-sides. Specifically, Ada and Lila are what you might call "naughty" together; they do not attempt to burn down the house or try to suffocate their siblings, but they misbehave together much more than either of them do with other children. Over the past few months, together they have: tried to pee standing up (unsuccessful from the vantage point of getting the urine in the toilet); drawn on each others' arms, bellies and faces; cut Lila's hair; torn apart a very nice book; colored on all manner of things that should not be treated that way (a wall, a stuffed Minnie Mouse, my papers...); tried to poop standing up (again, with decidedly unhappy results for our bathroom floor)... This is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.


On Tuesday Ada and Lila were using glitter pens in the kitchen, making art while sitting on the floor. I had given them newspaper to put under their masterpieces, and felt reasonably comfortable sitting in the next room feeding Mira. This was foolish of me, because once merely squirting glitter paint on the paper lost its thrill, the girls decided to drag out the glue and stick some pages together. This might have gone alright, except that they decided that, having used a fair bit of glue, they should protect the floor with a kitchen towel, which of course became saturated with glue and glitter paint. Actually, I am not sure if they were trying to protect the floor, but in any case we are down a dishtowel. At least they had the decency not to ruin one of the new ones, so there's that.

L & A & babies 11/09

Together Ada and Lila get into trouble. Or rather, they make trouble. It isn't clear to me who is instigating these misdeeds, but it has occurred to me that as Ada is not prone to this kind of behavior on her own or with other friends, she may be following Lila's lead. While I might be glad that she is not coming up with these ideas, I am not especially thrilled with the idea that my daughter is the kind of kid who goes along when someone tells her to do wrong. Okay, she is only four, and maybe it is not fair of me to expect her to use common sense. Maybe common sense is just beyond the capacity of any four year old, no matter how smart and charming the child.

As a parent, I want my child to be able to play independently without making me worry that she'll destroy the house. So far I have been very lucky in that Ada is both fairly willing to follow a limited set of house rules and disinclined to engage in what one might call "wet mess" (she doesn't like to be wet or sticky). As she gets older and more willingly tests the waters of independence, I can not help but feel a little shocked by her small rebellions. She is still great, but I can see parenting getting increasingly harder on this dimension. I want Ada to experiment, to think for herself, to try new things. But I also want her to listen to me and think before she acts. I think she and I both have some maturing to do on this.


  1. Don't worry--soon the twins will be leading each other into all sorts of mischief ;) Comforting, isn't it? Hint: they will use each other to climb on things.

    You've summed up what we all try to do as we raise our kids to be adults--listen to us, but be their own people. It will come.

  2. It's always hard to view these curious "explorations" of the world positively when you have to clean up the mess. I think the peeing whilst standing up experiment is rather clever, but the poop not so much.

    Vi has a friend who encourages a bit more destruction than we normally see around here and I struggle not to get angry with said child. Every child is different and it is interesting to see how mischief manifests in other households. Violet quietly paints herself or puts stickers on the walls. Her friend knocks shit over and messes with the magnets on the learning calendar and then asks me 10,000 questions that would be better answered by Violet. *sigh*

  3. Reading this, I can't help but draw parallels between Ada and Ada's friend and my boys. When alone, they follow rules and generally do not get into too much trouble. Together... which they are almost always together at home... they get into all kinds of trouble. I'm so used to it that I've had to become a less permissive mother than I thought I would be.

    A great example is pens, markers, and crayons. I'd love to have a playroom where they can have access to these. Alex completely destroyed a marker by pushing the tip in and Nate egged him on to shake it ALL OVER the playroom in the five minutes it took me to use the bathroom. I cleaned up marker drops and the boys for an hour. And it was one marker for five minutes! I was so tired I didn't even take a picture but the damage was staggering.

    When I talk to other twin parents, it's the same thing. They find creative ways to get into trouble.

    (One local friend's sons broke a lamp in their room and fed each other pieces of glass!)

  4. It's a tricky balancing act. Dudelet drives us to distraction but I'd rather put up with a certain amount of rebellion and naughtiness than have him be the conforming little robot that I was as a child -until it all went off like a bomb, causing damage to all concerned.

  5. Oh, honey. Common sense is beyond most 15 year olds. Really, truly, their brains just don't see the connections between cause and effect that ours do. Or that ours *should.*

  6. Nora, Nora, Nora....It's only just begun! Thelma and Louise will be fine. For now I would just keep a close eye on them. Boundaries will be tested and new boundaries will need to be set.
    My middle daughter had a friend like that. They have been friends since they were 2 and now they are 14yrs. As of today they aren't wanted in any state that I know of. lol!

  7. Common sense? It will not happen but if you are lucky they will have the sense to stay out of real trouble until common sense comes in around...22....