What 4-Year-Olds Should Never Do

Don't let the sweet smile fool you.This is Nora, our spirited, sassy, smart-beyond-her-years little girl. She is hilarious and fun and a good helper but she can also be the exact opposite and, lately, she’s been just that. Times 10. The past few months have been chaotic for our family, which is partly to blame (I had a baby--our third--my husband just started a new job with long hours, Christmas break was fantastic but endless). I fully admit to being less rigid with the rules and regs of being a Ruddy, leaving room for the crazy to seep out. I’m sure she’s also acting up to steal back some of the attention from the baby. Whatever the reason it’s definitely come to a head and something has to change. She turned four on Sunday so I’m using that milestone to rein her in, convince her that she’s such a big girl now and that big girls behave differently (i.e. way better). Here’s how I plan to school her:

Four year olds don’t…

…call their mothers by their first names. Nora has taken to calling me Ewin Zammett Wuddy and goes out of her way to use it (me: “Nora, do you want to go to Aunt Mimi’s to play with Sofia?” Nora: “Sure, Ewin Zammett Wuddy, let’s go!”) It was cute and funny for a day; now it’s just feeling disrespectful.

…fake cry. I have witnessed, on numerous occasions, Nora turning purple, face soaked with tears, unable to catch her breath only to seconds later perk up and say, “It’s OK, I was just fakin.” Wha?!

…barge into the bathroom every time their mother is in it and say: “Are you poopin or peeing?” Then insist on staying in said bathroom.

…take three bites of dinner and then, an hour later, ask, “what’s for dinner?”

…tease their brothers. The other night I overheard Nora walk into the bathroom where her six-year-old brother was showering and say, “Alex, mom just left the house. And daddy is still in the city. So that means we’re home alone!!!” (Can you guess what movie we watched over the break?)

…get topless at playdates.

…invent fears to get out of helping around the house. For about a week Nora insisted that because of the Grinch she was afraid of the color green. This prevented her from going to the bathroom alone (we have a green shower curtain!) and going into the playroom to pick up (we have green toys!). She is 100 percent not afraid of the Grinch, I promise.

…get up from the dinner table to dance, lie on the floor or help themselves to more mac and cheese before finishing their broccoli. 

…say no and/or growl, whine, sneer, roll their eyes at their mothers.

…drink coffee.

…initiate negotiations (e.g. “Ewin Zammett Wuddy, I’ll put my clothes in the hamper if I can stay up as late as I want tonight.”).

…ask sweetly for privacy while in the shower and then use that privacy to dump the half the bottle of conditioner out to clean the walls with it.

…run away from hairbrushes.

…run away from their mothers in a busy grocery store shouting, “I know where the milk is, I will get it.”

…change back into pajamas every time their mother leaves the room. This kid is obsessed with pajamas to the point that all she wanted for her birthday was nightgowns and wobes.

…scream at their mothers to turn up the radio when their favorite song comes on.  Just ask politely, I like that Rihanna/Eminem song, too. (Don’t judge.)

…scream bloody murder unless they are, in fact, witnessing a bloody murder.

…ask the same question over and over and over and over and over again when they know the answer is still going to be no (e.g., Can I have another cookie?, Can I have the iPad? Can I have a sip of your coffee?)

…leave the bathroom without flushing, washing hands or wiping. Especially wiping.

…Call their mothers mean. I am a lot of things but I am not mean. If anything I’m not mean enough, as evidenced by this list.