Yesterday Mihiretu told Lana, "You not da boss a me!" I guess he's American now.
The question of who's the boss of who is a good one.
His latest tactic when he hears "no" is a quick "Okay." Which, if you're an amateur, might trick you into thinking all's well. But a second later comes "Then I'm gonna..." As in:
"Mama, I wanna wat Kiffer" - translation "Mama, I want to watch Clifford."
"Not right now, Mihiretu, we're about to sit down for dinner."
"Okay. Den I gonna trow dis." At which point he picks up the deer antler that we found on the back hill. Why I continue to keep that thing in reach, I don't know.
"Mama, I wan gum."
"No, buddy, you just had a treat."
"No, I'm sorry, Mihiretu."
"Okay, den I gonna bite chew!" And then he runs at me, jaws open.
I do my best to avoid saying no to him, understandably. Not that we don't have rules and boundaries. Mae claims we have way too many. But if I can say, "Hey, look it's a bus!" instead of "No, you can't go to first grade with Lana" and get a flip-flop lobbed at my head as I drive, I prefer it.
I remember when Mae and Lana were this age there were certain triggers that I avoided. It's the same with Mihiretu. I've developed rules for myself. For instance, when I put Mihiretu on the back of my bike, I immediately take the flip-flops off his feet (clearly the flip-flops are problematic) and put them in the pannier. If I don't, I've learned, he'll kick them off in anger at some point during the ride. Then we circle back to get them. Then we're late to school.
Or if I have bad news, like he can't have another cookie, I wait to drop the bomb until he's strapped in his car-seat and I'm out of reach of swinging fists.
I try not to talk to Ben on the phone when Mihiretu is present. "Dada? Dat Dada?" followed by "I wanna tok, I wanna tok" until I finally relinquish the phone in self-defense. Then Ben attempts to talk to Mihiretu, Mihiretu is silent, accidentally hangs up on him, then throws himself on the floor in anguish and fury until I can get Ben back on the phone.
I can't let him have the hose. He will ultimately spray me. Somehow I made that mistake again this afternoon while we were filling up the chicken's water. Mihiretu filled the waterer carefully for a good five minutes but as soon as the bucket was full, the hose was turned immediately on me.
Whoever's putting him in his pajamas better damn well be in their pajamas or it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out.
If he's already had dinner and is getting drowsy in front of the TV (a desired effect at that time of day), I don't let anyone else eat in his line of vision because then, no matter how much food he just shoved down his gullet, he'll cry "Hun-gee!"
If I take a drive of more than twenty minutes any time after noon (an undesired time for drowsiness), I watch him closely in the rear-view mirror. If he falls asleep even for five minutes, bedtime moves from 6:30 to 10:00. Tactics to keep him awake include rolling all the windows down no matter the weather, blasting rap music (his favorite), or asking him what a doggy says. If I'm in luck, I'll get a very sleepy "Wuf".
I don't say the words "movie", "pop" (as in lolli), "ice-cream" or "nail-polish" or he'll demand that item for the rest of the day (he's a big fan of the mani-pedi). If he's refused that item, I'll get an "Okay, I'm gonna..." and before I know it every pillow in the house will be on the floor, the folded laundry will be freed from it's basket and strewn like party streamers from lamps and chairs and everyone will be crying. Including me.
No matter what, I never, ever, keep him in the house for longer than an hour or two. He's an outside boy, which makes sense given that his first two years were entirely outdoors. Outside, he's happy and fun. Inside, a super-ball bashing into vases.
From time to time, when I spot a trigger on the horizon and swerve radically to the left or right to avoid it, when I'm feeling penned in by these ridiculous constraints, I'm convinced that he's the boss of me. He's the boss of all of us; me, Ben, Mae, Lana. For now, my three-year-old, my dear whirling dervish. For now.