I don't know when exactly it happened, but I woke up this morning and realized that my just-turned-four-year-old is actually a teenager in disguise (you see how I used italics there? That's because this is serious business, yo. That means it's time to pay attention. Time to stop with the italics, Mahreen. Right-tee-oh. Onwards!).
Ever since she turned four (going on fourteen), Inara has been...challenging. Most days she is sweet and loving and lots of fun to hang out with - but there are the occasional days (and today has been one of them) where she walks around with this huge chip on her shoulder. Because being four is apparently very stressful and there is no POSSIBLE way that I could ever relate to her - may I be smitten by the lightning bolts shooting out of her eyeballs if I even think about being nice or understanding or compassionate. And lord help me if I should try to FIX THINGS.
I think part of it may have to do with the fact that the baby formerly known as ever-sweet Nissa is starting to hold her own around her big sis. Nissa is starting to go after what she wants - which is usually whatever toy or activity Inara is playing with. The problem is that she won't back down and she won't give up and she is not afraid to get hurt trying to get her way. She's like a bionic baby whose sense of fear has been replaced by continuous shrieks of euphoria when faced with extreme danger. Most rational human beings would say: "Oh, lookie there. That Big Person doesn't want me to have that toy. That Big Person is now running away from me. Oh, well. I want a cookie." But not Nissa. I am fairly certain that if I could take a peek into the insantity of her mind I would find the following: "ME WANT RA-RA'S TOY. ME WANT IT NOW! RA-RA RUN!!! ME RUN TOO (never mind that I can't actually walk)!!! RA-RA JUMP OFF TOP STEP!! ME JUMP TOO (never mind THAT I CAN'T WALK!!!!)!!! ME GO HEADFIRST BECAUSE IT BE FASTER. AND BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE MY LEGS WORK YET. AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! THAT WAS AWESOOOOME - FORGET COOKIES, LET'S DO THAT AGAIN! RA-RA, RA-RA, RA-RA - WHERE ARE YOU??????"
And this goes on and on and on alllllllll day long. And by this point Inara is downright pissed off (I'm still having fun with italics, peeps).
Enter surly four year-old teenager person, stage left.
A typical conversation between Exasperated Mama and Surly Four Year-Old Teenager Person (filled with lots of italics just to annoy you):
Surly: stomp stomp stomp stomp - followed by the very loud slamming of our coat closet door.
Me: (opening door to talk to her) Inara. We don't slam doors.
Surly: Ugh! But MOM (Not Mama. She only says MOM when she's in Surly Mode).
Me: Yes, Inara.
Surly: (sighing) I need some PRIVACY IN HERE.
Me: You need privacy? In the coat closet?
Surly: Yeah. I need PRIVACY. From YOU.
Me: (resisting every urge to not sound like my mother and say "there is no such thing as privacy from ME, missy!"...plus when did all this become MY fault? I'm trying to HELP YOU, SURLY) Okay. You need privacy. I can respect that. Do you want this to be your own private space? Is it a place where you feel like nobody is bothering you? Because I think you might be frustrated by Nissa always trying to take your toys...
Surly: I told you already, MOM. I want to have privacy from EVERYTHING. So can you give it to me now? Can you just shut the door and not come back?
What's a mom to do? I mean I do feel for her, it's got to be tough to always have to watch your back around your big scary one year-old sister who doesn't process the concept of personal space like a rational human being. So you know what I did? I let Inara have her private space. In the coat closet.
Every so often, she will scurry in and out of there - as fast as her little legs will take her. It's as if she's a guerilla soldier taking enemy fire, she's dodging and jumping and rolling to get to the pantry or the toy box or the bookshelf. And then she's shooting these furtive glances all around and I can see her brain processing - processing the angles and the routes and the path of least resistance to get her back to the safety of her private coat closet.
Most days she won't even let me come in to join her - I think that she thinks that if she lets me in then it won't be long before other, less-wanted little people (or person) will be in there too. Or who knows, maybe she just doesn't like me very much right now - she is a mini-teenager, after all. Every time I open the door (after knocking, of course. I remember how much it irked me when my parents didn't knock before coming into my room...I just didn't think I'd have to follow privacy protocol at age FOUR), I'm told, "MOM! What are you DOING?!? Can you just shut the DOOR????"
So I actually have no idea what she's doing in there, amongst our coats and shoes and umbrellas. Until now, that is. Today after lunch (which she ate in there) Inara left the door to the coat closet open and this is what I found:
I can SO see her in there now, listening to her angsty Rainbow Brite records, chugging back big swigs of water, wearing her badass bike helmet and glove, and mulling over the unfairness of the world in general.
Sometimes it's so hard to be a four year old.
Mahreen George - Veni, Vidi, Blogi: I Came, I Saw, I Blogged