Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy?

We signed Delphine up for Kindergarten, to start in fall. She's actually ready to start tomorrow -- she can dress herself and write her name and go to the bathroom by herself -- but because her birthday is fairly early in the year she will be one of the older, more accomplished students in her class. Fortunately it's a mixed Junior/Senior Kindergarten class so if necessary she can mingle with the five-year-olds, although by the time she gets to SK she will be like Methuselah.

I wonder about skipping her to first grade a year early; I don't know if they are keen on skipping grades in the Toronto school board, but it seems that if you're going to do it, earlier would be better than later, no? But just proposing that makes me feel like one of those annoying "my kid is so wonderful and smart and she needs special attention" parents. But honestly, if she is ready for grade one after a year of kindergarten -- and I'm not saying she will be -- doesn't it make sense to put her in it?

Speaking of people who think their kids are so special, Dooce (who I normally love) wrote this in her monthly letter to Leta, with respect to a question on a preschool application form: "whoever gets to spend their days with you will be transformed by the experience, and that the only right answer would be: You will not be disappointed." Seriously? You know these people, preschool teachers, get to meet hundreds of little kids, right? You think your little precious is going to be the one who transforms them? Why? What exactly about your kid is so special? Is she the reincarnation of Mother Theresa? No, she's just another snotty, screaming, whining, pooping three-year-old, just like mine and every other on the planet.

Having said that ("screaming, whining"), Delphine and I are getting better at communicating with each other. I read Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It, and it really helped me figure out a way to talk to her and deal with her which lets us both keep our dignity intact. There's a real art to it, the balance between getting her to do the things I want her to do without forcing her, or just letting her do whatever she wants to. I offer her choices, compromises, I decide what she does and she decides how, but all the while I have to maintain my authority so that when she's running away down the sidewalk I can yell "Stop!" and she will do it right away.

Delphine loves a power battle — sometimes it seems like she automatically defies me on everything: "Toast for breakfast today!" "I don't like toast!" (An out and out lie.) So then it's fun to offer no resistance: "Okay, no toast for breakfast, let's have cereal!" "I want toast!" Okay, toast it is, crazy kid.

My favourite times are when we get to hang out together without Cordelia. Cordelia is still at an age where she butts into whatever we're doing, but she's too young to play board games or sit nicely and be read to, so when we're all together I'm often playing interference, but when it's just Delphine and I we can talk and read and do things together like real people. It doesn't happen very often, though.

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