Where's the village?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sneaky Girl

Here's the post I tried to do yesterday:

The dajamou, in her Quest for World Domination, otherwise known as the development of her psyche, has been playing around with the concept of truth and reality. And by playing around I mean grabbing it in her grubby paws and shaking it up, turning it upside down, spinning it around and folding it to suit her needs.

One of her favorite games to play with me is "Surprise." For instance, she likes to "surprise" me by getting herself dressed in the morning while I pretend to not know what she's doing. Or she'll tell me to not look at her while she's eating her yogurt, and then she'll say "Surprise!" and I'll turn around and say "Hey! Where did all that yogurt go?" And she'll say, '"It's in my belly, silly!" She's so proud of being able to surprise me. And I can often play it to my advantage and get her to do things quickly and cheerfully if we pretend it's a surprise for me, dajadaddy, or someone else.

There is, however, a darker side to the game of "Surprise." This morning she wanted to get out some plastic cups and plates to use as drums. At first she asked for 5 cups as drums and 2 plates as cymbals. I was cool with that, so I gave them to her, no problem. We had some good times making music, and then we played "restaurant" with them, and I got a mango smoothie and a chicken sandwich. Good clean fun, great imagination-building stuff.

But, inevitably, it seemed to the dajamou that since 5 cups and 2 plates were fun, 40 cups and 16 plates would be even better! So she asked me to go down to the basement and get some more plates and cups for her. But I said no, she had enough. Cue whining:

"But Mama, I want to have more drums!"

"Honey, you can make drums out of all kinds of things here in the playroom. Your empty doctor kit, this upside down box, the side of the dollhouse...see how they all make different noises when you tap them? It's fun to have lots of different noises to make, isn't it?"

(Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... The Whining No! New and improved with a hoarse voice from a week of coughing, and a clogged nose from overproductive mucus membranes!)


So then I pulled out the I'm-in-charge-of-the-house card and said I didn't want any more clutter, and she had enough toys. When that went over like a lead balloon, I trumped myself by pulling out the imminent-birthday-party card, saying I still had a lot of cleaning to do for her birthday party on Saturday and I didn't want more mess to clean up. Blah blah blah. She appeared to let it go, but then 5 minutes later I was heading up the stairs and I got this from the dajamou:

"Mama, you don't look in the basement at what I'm going to do because it's going to be a surprise what I do and I don't want you to see until I do it, so it will be a surprise. But I need you to take my step stool down to the basement for me."

Hmm. Let's see. What, class, do we think our little protagonist is going to be doing in the basement? Replacing the faulty light bulb over the laundry table? Possible, but doubtful. (Actually, not possible, but whatever.) Anyone else? Anyone?

Score yourself five bonus points if you guessed that she wanted to get more cups and plates out for herself.

And herein lies my ongoing internal conflict with this particular phase of her development. I don't know whether to be:
a) amused, because she's only four (OK, 2 days short, close enough) and thus so amazingly bad at lying and being sneaky most of the time;
b) frustrated and hurt, because she's trying to lie and be sneaky and Mama don't raise no sneaky liars; or
c) proud of her burgeoning (albeit misguided) problem-solving and planning skills.

Dajadaddy and I have talked about this a few times, and we mostly agree that she's just exploring her world and figuring out what works for getting what she wants, and what doesn't. Most of the reading material I've seen on child development says that kids don't really develop a sense of true/false and right/wrong until they're like, six or something. So I don't think she's going to turn into Ken Lay or anything. But still. It bugs me. Cuz Mama don't raise no sneaky liars.


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