When I was in active labour with my second child and having a particularly painful contraction, I pooped in the bathtub.
There. I said it.
And you know what? I’m not even embarrassed about it. Why? Because my preschooler already told everyone. I’ve long since come to terms with my bowel movements becoming public knowledge.
Preschoolers can be pretty hilarious. It’s tough to keep track of all the funny things my daughter says despite my best efforts to frantically scribble it all down on scraps of paper strewn about the house. Preschoolers can be loads of fun. They finally attempt those art activities you meticulously planned and prepared for them, and can actually be helpful when you’re baking a batch of cookies together, rather than dumping half the flour on the floor. But they can also be pretty darn frustrating to live with.
So, without further ado, here is my list of the 3 worst things about living with a preschooler.
1. They tell everyone everything. Everything.
Remember when you used to be able to walk around the house naked and do all kinds of embarrassing things like burp and pick your nose without anyone ever finding out? Remember when you could leave a family gathering and innocently remark to your partner that your sister has really been getting on your nerves lately without said remark ever getting back to her? Sadly, those days are gone. Everything you now say and do in front of your preschooler will be recounted in great detail to anyone from your neighbour to the teenager behind the grocery store check out counter. Being a fairly shy and private person, this has been a challenge for me. Several times a week, you can find me laughing nervously as my daughter reveals my darkest secrets to complete strangers.
One might suggest cutting her off mid-sentence and trying to explain that some things are private. I fight the urge to do this. First of all, preschoolers are incapable of distinguishing between being friendly and revealing too much. I don’t expect her to know yet what’s okay to share, and what isn’t. Second of all, despite it being inconvenient for me, I honestly do admire my daughter’s fearless attitude. In her mind, we are who we are. There is no reason to be embarrassed about our bodily functions or about the things we say and do. I admire that about her. She also helps me monitor my own language and behaviour. If I don’t have nice things to say about others, I don’t say them –at least not in front of her. It’s actually a pretty good way to keep myself in check.
2.They are brutally honest.
Preschoolers have no filter. They point out pimples, call you out on your bad breath, and tell you point blank that your dinner was terrible. I can usually handle the comments directed at me. Sometimes they’re even helpful (Did I brush my teeth yet today?). But there is nothing worse than your 4 year old loudly complaining that she wants your dear friends who drove over two hours to visit you to go home. Sigh.
3. They ask “why?” like it’s going out of style.
This starts out as such an endearing quality. Your little toddler has transformed into an explorer who wants all the answers and you’re going to give them to her! You are her first teacher and you’re determined to pass on all your knowledge. You respond with enthusiasm and answer every question in detail. But you soon begin to realize that the questions don’t stop. There is no way to quench her thirst for knowledge. In fact, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, these conversations slowly shift into an absurd Kafkaesque nightmare that you can no longer control or even understand yourself. A regular exchange in my house sounds something like this:
Daughter: Mommy, in Charlotte’s Web, Fern spends a lot of time with the animals, doesn’t she?
Me: Yes, she does.
Me: She used to take care of Wilbur so she likes to visit him.
Me: She misses him because he had to go and live with her Uncle. He grew too big and she couldn’t take care of him anymore.
Daughter: Why did he grow big?
Me: Because all animals grow and change.
Me: I don’t know, that’s just how life works.
Me: I don’t have an answer for you.
Daughter: I like Charlotte’s Web, don’t I?
Me: You do!
When the questioning starts to get out of hand, I take lots of deep breaths and try to change the subject. Most importantly, I try to remember that I am so lucky to have such a curious little 4 year old who is still at an age where she wants to talk to me, and trusts my answers. I try to remember how fleeting this stage is, and how much I’ll miss it when it’s gone. And if none of that works, I break out into song. That always distracts her.
What did I miss? What do you think is the toughest part about living with a preschooler?
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.