The Vindictiveness of Preschoolers

When you have young children, you have stories – lots of stories. You have stories that most people wouldn’t believe unless they, too, have had small children. You think you’ll never forget these incidents when they happen. Then a year goes by, maybe two, and suddenly you’re struggling to remember even the most basic details. So, I’m choosing to write down what I can before I forget entirely.

Like this gem:

G was three years old (he’s now seven). It was late at night and we were two water breaks, four stories, and a whole lot of my patience into bedtime. When he came downstairs for the hundredth time, I was just settling in to watch some TV.

“Are you going to make popcorn tonight?” he asked hopefully.

I glanced over at the pot on the stove – filled with hot oil, waiting for my nightly batch of kernels – and then back to my preschooler. Sleep was close; I couldn’t risk undoing hours of bedtime work with an affirmative answer.

“No,” I lied. “Back upstairs.”

“Okay,” he said. “Just don’t make popcorn without me.”

“Sure. I won’t.”

It was a white lie. No sooner had I tucked him back into bed than I had kernels popping on the stove. G was asleep and I was safe to enjoy my habitual popcorn and TV nightcap. He would be none the wiser and I could make him his own popcorn the next day. Win-win, I thought.

Unfortunately, I left the empty bowl with a few tattling kernels on the coffee table. Also unfortunately, G awoke before me the next morning. When I came downstairs, he was curled up on the couch watching the latest episode of Thomas the Train. (Yes, he knew how to turn the television on and navigate the On-Demand section. We teach important life skills early around here.)

“Morning, baby,” I said. Seeing the evidence, I went quickly to the bowl, hoping to remove it before he noticed what had been in it.

I picked it up and immediately put in back down again. There was some watery liquid in the bottom.

“What happ — did you pour water in here?”

“No.” He didn’t look up from Thomas. “I peed in there.”

I stared, flabbergasted, at my very potty trained child who had never peed anywhere other than a diaper or a toilet.

“You PEED in the BOWL?” I could barely get the words out.

“Yes,” he nodded, eyes never leaving the screen.

I took the bowl over to the sink. As I scrubbed it under the hottest, soapiest water imaginable, I realized the thumb-sucking three-year old had just given me a very deliberate f-you.

And I never lied about making popcorn again.

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