Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Three Year Olds

My oldest child is three years old. It's a very interesting age for a parent to observe. It's when she is most like a person but also when she is very demanding. And these aren't demands that make sense or a essential to survival to a fellow human being. Three-year-olds want the DUMBEST things! And if they don't get it, you are certainly going to hear about it.

I think I've said this before here, but kids are text book cases for severe bouts of OCD.

My theory on this is that the world is just beginning to make sense to them. There might be some order after all to this crazy environment, which is quite a shock to them. Out of the womb, everything is chaos, always has been and they're ok with that.

As adults, we despise chaos. We spend our whole life getting things in order despite the laws of entropy and the universe.

For a child, order it's something new and they're very bad at it, amateurs. So they don't know what's important and what's not important. They could take the time to sit down, draw an outline of what's necessary and discard what isn't. Unfortunately, it's rare for someone so young to reach this level of reasoning (maybe that's a good thing for development reasons) so it's just easier to demand it for everything in their life. Shoot now, ask questions later...MUCH later. YEARS later! Maybe never as is the case for many adults.

If you leave the room, my daughter yells out, "I'll be back." She will continue to yell this until you acknowledge her. And you can't just acknowledge it with a nod or something affirmative. You have to repeat the phrase verbatim. This means the following phrases are unacceptable:

"I'll be back in a minute."
"I will be back."
"I'll be right back."
"I'll be back, Daughter."
"Daddy will be right back."
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Ok that's enough!"
"Do you want to go to your room?"
"Stop crying."
"Ok you don't have to go to your room, just stop crying."
"And quit asking that. Ok fine! I'LL BE BACK!"

And you better say it loud, because she is repeating the phrase every half a second. If she doesn't hear you, the cycle continues until she does. Same format for "Good night" "Going bye bye?" "You hungry?" "Carry me"

Other evidence of OCD in children, when my daughter goes to bed, she usually takes a few toys. Each night it's different toys but when she falls asleep, I take the toys out of her bed. In the morning. when she wakes up, nay before she is completely awake, still rubbing her eyes and yawning, she will ask where toys x, y and z are! Imagine how obsessive you have to be to think of the items you carried to bed a day ago and can perform total recall of its inventory after sleeping all night?

I don't think it's her daily schedule that makes her this way. She doesn't have a strict schedule per se. She goes to bed at varying times (it is every night, just random hours), eats at varying times, takes baths at varying times. I can't imagine how demanding she'd be if we did have her on such a schedule.

So there's the good stuff too. Memory like a computer.

Her maternal grandfather has a ring tone on his phone that's the Jenny song (867-5309, for a good time, for a good time caaaaaaaallll). She loves this ring tone, breaks into song as soon as his phone rings.

Weeks later we were at Jimmy Johns getting a bite to eat when the Jenny song came on over the sound system. The chorus hadn't even started, just the beginning of the song with the first verse and my daughter started bopping her head to the music. She blurted out the word "Grandpa" and then did the sign language sign for Grandpa. That's a neat trick.

Another time, we were watching the movie Gone Baby Gone with Casey Affleck. I tell her the names of the movies I am watching. She repeated the title a few times during the show, but for the most part played with her toys while I watched the movie.

Several weeks later, I'm watching The Assassination of Jesse James starring who other than Casey Affleck as Robert Ford, James' assassin. He's dressed in 19th century clothes, has a ragged black hat on. My daughter, playing with her toys in front of the TV takes one look at the screen, looks back to her toys and says "Gone Baby Gone."

So she knows and remembers stranger's faces she's only seen once. Color me impressed.

Now if we can just get her to pee in something other than her diaper.