My preschooler and I have been fighting over bedtime lately. I think it’s a concrete time by which she should at least remain in her room and attempt to fall asleep. She thinks it’s a light suggestion, with a few hours of leeway on either side.
Clearly, we’ve been butting heads over this issue. Which has mostly involved me redirecting her back to bed again and again until she finally wears herself out.
We’ve tried a few other things, to be sure. Sticker reward charts, taking away some of her favorite toys, and even using a gate. But mostly, it’s been the pointing her back to bed that I’ve been sticking to night after night.
So I wasn’t shocked a few nights ago when I heard my doorknob turn and knew my preschooler was about to enter. What I was shocked about was when she walked in completely naked from the waist down, her pajama shorts now over her head and covering her entire face instead of hiding her bum from the world.
She didn’t say anything. She just stood there, face in pajama bottoms, waiting for me to react.
It was all I could do not to burst into laughter. “Go. To. Bed.” I said in the sternest voice I could manage. And she did. Without a word, without any laughter or commentary, my little pajama head turned right back around, closed the door behind her, and went to bed.
It was then that I started laughing. Just because … what a little weirdo!
This is maybe my favorite age to date. My kiddo has become so much more expressive with her words, and so much more creative in her actions. She’s no longer just mirroring everything she’s seen and heard around her. Instead, she’s thinking for herself, and coming up with thoughts and ideas that are all her own.
Which I absolutely love. Mostly because she is growing into her own little person, and it’s so fun to watch.
Still, I’ve come to realize that some of what she does is totally normal for this age. In fact, all preschoolers are doing these weird and hilarious things.
1. Ever-evolving food aversions
There is no telling from one day to the next what my kid might like or loathe when it comes to mealtime. It’s all a crapshoot.
She may have begged for watermelon every day last week, but today? She calls it “disgusting” and refuses to take a bite. And she’s furious at me for not seeing this coming. Because … duh, Mom!
2. The potty talk obsession
My child and I don’t have a single conversation these days that doesn’t somehow seem to loop around to the topic of poop, farts, or butts. Sometimes all three.
One night, I asked my little girl what she did at school that day, and she said, “I tooted and pooped out my butt.” So … there’s that.
3. The repetition
These days, my little girl has a tendency to get stuck in patterns she wants to continuously repeat. It might be a movie she insists we watch 100 times in a row. Or it could be a game we play once that she then wants to play every single day thereafter.
Lately, it’s been her rain boots. She refuses to wear any other shoes, even if it hasn’t rained outside in weeks. Rain boots are all I can get her to put on her feet.
4. The intentional accidents
OK, so this isn’t hilarious, it’s annoying. But it’s also inevitable. My daughter has been potty trained since just shy of her 2nd birthday. She’s 3 1/2 now.
Most days, I am extremely confident in her ability to get through the day without an accident. But every once in a while, she surprises me. And I’m mostly convinced she’s done it on purpose, for whatever weird reason she could have for that.
Like one day a few weeks ago, she told me she had to go potty. So I said, “OK, honey. Go.” She trotted off to the bathroom, but about 30 seconds later I heard what sounded like liquid hitting the tiled floor. So, I popped my head into the bathroom. And I found her standing with her legs spread apart and her pants still up, just watching as her pee hit the ground.
I don’t think that was an accident. I think she just wanted to see what would happen. Because pissing yourself is a totally normal thing to do in the name of preschooler exploration.
5. The connections
Preschoolers’ brains are really starting to fire off in 100 different directions. For maybe the first time ever, they’re starting to connect pieces of things they’ve learned throughout their lives with the new information that’s coming in.
That might mean that they suddenly realize that babies grow in bellies first, and that must mean they were once in your belly. Or they might start to associate their grandfather’s favorite brand of beer with the man himself, shouting out “Papa,” when they see someone else drinking the same brand at a BBQ Papa is definitely not at.
For my daughter, the most hilarious connection she’s made is deciding that Peter the Apostle (in her children’s Bible) must actually be Peter Parker from her Spider-Man book, just old. For real. She calls him Daddy Spider-Man. Because being old must also mean he’s a daddy.
6. The negotiations
Long gone are the days where “because I said so” might have worked. Now, I have a preschooler who is questioning everything and always looking for an angle to take advantage of.
I might tell my daughter we can each have one cookie after dinner, to which she’ll immediately respond, “No. Two.” Or it could be time to leave the park, but she’s bartering for five more minutes telling me she’ll stay in bed tonight if we can keep playing. The kid is always negotiating. And while I like to think I rarely give in, I also kind of enjoy witnessing her attempts at getting her way.
7. The pretend play
My daughter has a few favorite games of pretend she likes to play again and again. One involves making me “coffee” and then sneezing and “spilling” it all over me just before she hands it over.
Another involves just about anything she can turn into a baby, nurturing it with soothing words like, “Shhh, shhh, it’s OK. Mommy’s here.” And her other favorite game of pretend involves picking up my phone and having fake conversations with any number of people she tells me might be on the other end. She has long, drawn-out conversations where she shares more about her day to the pretend person calling than she ever does with anyone in real life.
And it cracks me up. Both because, where do kids get this stuff from? And how do I get inside that cute little head of hers?
8. Body autonomy
My daughter has just started to really assert her power over her own body. She’ll sit still and let me braid her hair, but then have no qualms about taking it all out herself 15 minutes later.
She’ll also avoid telling anyone she just pooped, because she’s convinced she can wipe just fine on her own (she can’t). And don’t you dare try to force her into a different pair of shoes. Her feet, her choice.
I want to be clear that I am not a fan of fibbing. It’s important to me to raise an honest little human, and I plan on working hard to impart the importance of integrity to my little girl.
But I’ve got to be honest. Sometimes when she fibs, I’m blown away by how straight faced she can do it! I mean, I still know she’s lying … she’s 3. And I call her on it, of course. But … the stories this kid will make up!
She told me recently all about a dragon that swooped into her room and stole her books. And she was dead serious. It was kind of amazing.
10. The embarrassment factor
My kid really has become pretty unpredictable in the things she says. At any given moment, she might tell a stranger her mommy just farted. Or that mommy walks around naked. Or that mommy has owies on her face (otherwise known as period acne … thanks for pointing that out, kid). The point is, this child cannot be trusted in public. And anything that comes out of her mouth has the potential to be completely and utterly humiliating.
The darnedest things
Reading back over that list, I’m starting to question why it is I love the preschool stage so much. Because honestly, kids this age are awful! They’re testing limits and getting so much better at pushing buttons.
But they’re also funny. And smart. And suddenly capable of engaging in actual human interaction — back and forth dialogue with unique ideas and contributions. It really is kind of special and fun to be a part of, while also being wildly weird and hilarious at the same time!