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Little Miss MisBehavin'

We had to have a talk on the way home tonight. I was tired and really wasn't prepared but sometimes it just has to be done when it has to be done. I was firm but not mean. I was honest but understanding. I talked a lot. She said nothing. In fact, she sat in her seat like a statue, staring out of the window. She was even borderline rude. It was like she didn't even hear what I was saying when she spoke right over me to declare, "Moo cow?!"

I'm exhausted every day when I make the return trip from work and it takes all of my energy to pick Caroline up from day care and get us home. I hardly know any of the parents there because we all come and go like zombies. Picking our kid up is a check box on the day's to-do list. At some point between cleaning dishes and washing out sippy cups, I read the daily activity sheet that the daycare provider completes to inform parents of the ins and outs of the little things we all miss while we are at work. It is then that I learn if Caroline did a poopy in the potty (high five buddy!), didn't eat her apple sauce and had music circle time. Most of my concerns on the sheet focus on a good nap and normal eating habits.

Until today when there was a significant amount of scribbling in the "notes" section of the activity sheet. I didn't even have to read it to know that it was bad. When I walked in the door to her room, Caroline was brushing the hair of her daycare provider, "Miss Eata", who looked thoroughly whipped. When Caroline fell on her way to hug me and the tears poured down her chubby cheeks, Eata rolled her eyes.

Caroline has been acting up for the past several weeks and today was the climax. What could it be, we wondered. We went through the list of possibilities- is she spending too much time with our friend's new baby and is, therefore, regressing? Are there too many little ones in the room influencing her to act like an 18-month-old rather than a 31-month-old? Could it be that she misses her BFF who is now staying at home instead of coming to daycare? Is her no-potty rebellion from lack of a current toddler-pottier role model in her room? Would the day care have to banish her to another room, the tough kids' room?

I was dumbfounded and embarrassed. How could my sweet, delicate, innocent baby do anything bad? How could those dimply arms push down another child? Can a kid with pig tails be a bully?

I called Andy on the way home and we discussed the issue at length. I told him how uncooperative Caroline was in helping me determine the cause of her angst. We came to the conclusion that a) she is modeling her behavior after another notoriously bad kid at the daycare or b) she has been staying up too late and is a groggy, crabby pants or c) she is just being bad because that's what kids her age do and it is ok to give her a time out or an old-fashioned spank on the bottom.

If she was a bit older I'd have told her no desserts after dinner and straight to bed after homework. But she's not older and she's still my baby so we settled on a nice long bath, lots of stories and a 30-minute earlier bed time. As I tucked her into her crib I was sure to ask her, "Are you going to be a good girl at day care tomorrow?" She kicked her legs, letting them bounce loosely in the air, smiled shyly and whispered, "Nnnnnooooooooo!"

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