A note from the trenches: Strong Personality

by Katie on August 7, 2016

Probably if you have ever even met our daughter in passing, the descriptors “meek” or “mild” would not come to mind regarding her personality during that encounter. In fact, “intense” is the best word we have come up with to describe every aspect of her personality.

I have said many times, and I say it again: I know full well that one day, I will be grateful for her strong personality. But getting to that day may very well be the death of me.

Next week is big in our house – she has her first official day of preschool. We are excited for her, but also nervous. Nervous about how she will handle the first time she has to leave a station/project she doesn’t think she has completed. Nervous about her behavior when she doesn’t get to stand or sit exactly where she wants. Nervous about the reaction of her classmates when she tells them exactly where to place every single block if they happen to be building together. And frankly, increasingly nervous about how many of those classmates will be her friend.

Take our recent playdate experience, for example.

We have a little neighbor girl who just turned five, and Leyton is nearly infatuated with her. One morning last week, she was begging for a friend to come play. I suggested she call the neighbor girl. And so she did. All by herself. I dialed the number for her, but when the phone was answered, she politely said, “Hi, this is Leyton. Can I please talk to Kate?” and proceeded to invite her over. For 3.5, I was pretty pleased and impressed with how that part of the playdate was handled.

But then the playdate actually got underway.

Approximately seven minutes after she arrived, my concerns began. The poor girl sat on our living room floor, on the spot on the tea party blanket Leyton had directed her to, while Leyton boomeranged all around her, setting things up exactly as she thought they should be, and telling Kate exactly what was going on and what they were going to do with every step.

Once the tea party fizzled a bit, Leyton retreated to her room. She’s developed this weird thing lately where she takes her hair ties, twists them all up with her fingers until she is satisfied with their appearance, and tells you it is a snail. I cannot tell you how many “snails” I have thrown in the trash over the past month. As you can imagine, Kate found this as odd as we do, and was just really overwhelmed with her experience at our house by that point.

Up until this point, I had simply been observing. Albeit cringing, but not interfering.

Until innocent, unsuspecting Kate said, “Let’s play with this house,” referring to what we call the “cat house” – a very small dollhouse Leyton received from grandparents last Christmas that has little critters (cats and rabbits) and accessories.

At first, Leyton responded, “No thank you, I want to do that next time with you.” I think our daughter was a little overly optimistic at the success of her playdate and enjoyment of her companion at that point, but at least she was polite about declining the first thing her friend had suggested.

They did end up at the cat house eventually, but as soon as Kate started touching the critters, Leyton instantly began shaking her leg and tapping her fingertips together (things she does when she’s really worked up about something) and YELLED [that’s in all caps for a reason], “THEY’RE SLEEPING!”

Mama had to intervene on that one…

There was one more complete meltdown (and resulting timeout) by my child, over a simple case of Kate standing her ground and not letting Leyton dictate their playtime. And y’all, that girl RAN [again, all caps for a reason] out of our house when her daddy arrived to pick her up. I’m not even sure she was here a full two hours.

Just a couple days ago, we were on our way to swim and play with other friends. I was going through our big speech on the way there about how sometimes we have to play the things our friends want to, and things aren’t always exactly the way we think they should be.

At the end of my monologue, Leyton sat silent for a few minutes, soaking it all in (as she often does), then finally said, “I will just tell them what they want to play.”

And that’s why we’re concerned about friends in school. For good reason, I think.

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