I kept hearing that three was worse than two, but I didn't want to believe it. I kept telling myself, "No, no, no. We got all that over with in the twos. Three is going to be great!" I can now say that three is at least as bad as two. Bad is, of course, a relative term. You are still a mostly wonderful little bundle of life and love and joy. But you have also forced me to accept that at least some portion of each day is going to be spent locked in battle over, say, getting your shoes on, or getting your shirt on, or getting your pants on, or getting your underwear on, or getting your teeth brushed, or getting you out of the bathtub, or getting you in the bathtub, or... Maybe you see what I'm trying to say.
You have developed a fairly consistent policy, which is that you will do what we ask only after making it as difficult as possible and trying, with every tool you have, to force us to do it for you. You don't like to pull up your own pants, or put on your own shoes, or step out of the bathtub. This is not because you are incapable of doing these things on your own, but because you want to prove that you have the power to make us do them for you. I have recently developed a reward system, in which you get a sticker each morning and each evening if you are able to get dressed/bathed/fed without a screaming, rolling-on-the-floor meltdown. It is helping somewhat, because you really want those stickers. But now the sticker itself has turned into a battleground. You don't even want to hear about the night that I denied you your sticker. Let's just say that the neighbors a few blocks away knew you didn't get your sticker that night. I don't understand why you need to create so much struggle. Why can't you just put on your shoes and have a happy morning? Why do the littlest things have to be so difficult?
But I am not here just to complain about you. We had a conference with your preschool teachers the other day, and I want you to know what they said. They said you are expressive and advanced with your vocabulary, your writing, your imagination, most everything. And they described you as a bright and charismatic leader. You are the one who makes up games on the playground and assigns each child a role — and your ideas are so good that they actually listen to you. They said your only meltdowns come when the other children aren't properly following your instructions. Sometimes, they say, you take your power so far that you single out two or three children and assign them to be your playmates — as if you are some sort of preschool kingmaker. They say you are enthusiastic and open to virtually everything they do. Guess what their one concern was? You don't follow instructions.
In many ways, this conference confirmed what I already knew about you. You are assertive (some would say bossy), strong-willed, imaginative, smart and open to new experiences. But I really had no idea you were becoming a leader among children. After that conference, I realized that you are becoming a person with your own realm, your own ways of moving through the world, your own relationships and struggles and joys. All I can do is wish you luck.