There’s a new little girl in Catie’s daycare class named Allie. She’s the youngest of them by far, she just turned 3 a couple of weeks ago. Most of the other kids in the classroom are 3 1/2 to 4. But Allie was used to being the Queen Bee of the 2 year-old room, and she’s trying to maintain that status in the new classroom.
So lately, a lot of conversations at our house have been going like this:
Me: Do you want to wear your sneakers or your pink shoes*?
Catie: I want my pink shoes. But I have to take my socks off. Allie says I can’t wear socks with my pink shoes.
Me: Sweetie, if you want to wear socks with your pink shoes, you can. It doesn’t matter. Allie doesn’t make the rules.
*Note: “Pink shoes” is what she calls her crocs. And yes, she usually wears socks with them. I don’t care about the fashion statement, since, you know, SHE’S THREE. And if she has socks on, she’ll stay comfortable in them longer and won’t run over to me every 2 minutes to complain about some microscopic speck of dust in her shoe that’s bugging her.
Me: What do you want to drink with your dinner?
Catie: Milk. Allie says I can’t drink water or juice, only milk.
Me: Um, you can drink whatever you want, actually.
Catie: I can? Then I’d like some juice, please.
At bedtime, Catie is snuggling with her stuffed horse, who she named Duck (which I think is hilarious), and we’re talking about her day. (Also: Duck the horse happens to have been the stuffed animal she brought to school earlier that day.)
Catie: Allie said I can’t call my horsey Duck, because he’s a horse, not a duck. So I need to name him Cayden.
Me: Catie Bug, he’s YOUR horse, not Allie’s. You can re-name him if you want to, but I think Duck is a great name for him.
Catie (getting upset): And today, Allie said I had to put Duck in my cubby, and I wanted to hold him.
Me: Did Miss Mandy tell you that you had to put him in your cubby, or did she say it was ok for you to hold onto him?
Catie: She said I could hold him.
Me: Well, baby, Miss Mandy makes the rules when you’re at school, not Allie. So the next time she tries to tell you what to do, you need to very nicely say, “Allie, you’re not the boss of me.” And if she keeps trying to tell you what to do, you need to go tell Miss Mandy to make her stop.
Catie: Ok, I do that.
Today, I took Catie to daycare. We walked in, and Catie marched up to Allie without so much as a hello, and said, “Allie, you NOT the boss of me!”
Oy. I guess she misunderstood the part about waiting until Allie did something bossy, and I was kind of horrified that she did it that way. But then? Allie’s response was, “I know I’m not the boss of you, Catie. Now here, you take this and go put it over there…” And Catie turned around and did exactly what Allie told her to do.
The good news is that the daycare teacher is well aware of the situation and is continually telling Allie to stop being bossy. Apparently she acts like that with all the kids, not just Catie.
I worry about how to teach Catie to stand up for herself and not be a pushover, but also keep her from taking it too far and becoming bossy herself. The line is pretty fuzzy when you’re dealing with kids this young.
I just never want her to conform to somebody else’s idea of what she should be.
Because who she is? Is pretty flipping fantastic.