Whoa. Three-year-old's are TOUGH.

Um. Is this not perfect? Note: This book is still in print. Sadly, with an updated cover.

 Oddly enough, Lila's an early bloomer.

 (She definitely doesn't get this from my side of the family.) Now, let me clarify: by "early bloomer" I mean that she usually meets the age-specific behavioral milestones a wee bit earlier than we'd prefer.

What does this mean for us right now?

Lila's 2 years, 10 months and 3 days old but she's already acting like the 3-year-old that I've secretly been terrified of.

I've heard for years from the Moms Who I Watch, the ones who've traversed this toy-strewn road before me, that two is a cinch and that three, oh, three is tough.

"Pa-shaw" I remember thinking. "Come on. How is a three-year-old going to be tough? Hello, isn't it the 'terrible twos'?"

Oh, Kylee.

I actually remember where I was standing when it really resonated with me that three might be difficult. I was on the phone with my best friend and she was talking about her then-three-year-old. She couldn't keep her daughter in her bed during naptime. In my ignorant new-parent thinking, I figured it was clearly a parenting fail, right? Because my newborn was sleeping soundly all swaddled in her crib I must have known how to parent a three-year-old. (Tee hee.)

"Kylee, it's just that at three, they're so... they're so... defiant."

Fast forward to today: LIGHTENING is crashing.

YES! DEFIANT is our word of the day, of the week... of the month. Someone, anyone, tell me that "defiant" isn't going to be our word of the year.

Let's get this straight, I didn't birth no* shrinking daisy. Lila's strong-willed; or as some parenting experts like to call her, "spirited." She's intense. And decisive. And opinionated. And introspective. And wildly giggly and imaginative and cute.

But sadly for us, her more prominent characteristics these days involve whatever is the opposite of conflict resolution. Perhaps, we could call it "conflict instigation."

Variations of this exchange happen about 358 times per day:

Scene: After bath time I'm wrangling a wet and running one-year-old who doesn't like towels and a semi-whiny 3-year-old whose only desire is to pump all of the lotion out of the bottle even though I've told her 500 times that she cannot do that because it wastes lotion.

Me: "Lila, come here please. I need to brush your hair."

Lila: silence. No moving in my general direction. Reaching toward the lotion. AGAIN.

Me: "Lila, please come here NOW." (I am more stern. Not yelling.)

Lila: No. Still touching the lotion and trying to pump out MORE.

Me: "LILA ROSS. Come here immediately. We will brush your hair and then read books." (I just yelled a bit. Hey! I'm not perfect. It ain't easy trying to put a diaper on a recently-lotioned, wiggly 15-month-old who hates laying on her back and wrangle a non-compliant big sister.)

Lila: NO (she says this semi-calmly, usually in a whining tone (OHHH! THE WHINING!) then she starts walking toward me. Lotion in hand.)

Then here it comes, wait for it:

Me: "Lila come here NOW and PUT DOWN THE LOTION."

Lila: "You no be mean a Lila! You no listen a me! YOU LISTEN a Lila, Mommy!"

Shall I translate for you? That was the Spanglish version of, "Don't be mean to Lila. You don't listen to me. LISTEN to me, Mommy")

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If we tell Lila she can't put her fork in the straw of her cup at dinner - she says this.

If we tell her that she cannot dump water over Vivienne's head in the tub - she says this.

If we tell her that she needs to put shoes on so that she doesn't slip on the wet tile outside - she says this.

If we tell her that she cannot have a peep until after she eats - she says this.

If we tell her to please be patient and wait a moment, that we'll do whatever she needs after we change Vivienne's diaper - she says this.

Our life is FULL of No's and "YOU NO LISTEN A ME's."

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Nope, we don't live in Cabo. We live in Defiance, Mexico.

Wish us luck.

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*Horrendous grammar is intentional

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