"Mommy, I wanted to say 'I love you,' but I said 'Poopyhead' instead. Please don't get mad. It was an accident."
I hear this refrain from Pink P a lot these days (though sometimes she replaces "poopyhead" with "stupid" or "stinky socks" or "poopy bottom"). She certainly brings a sophistication to her mischievousness that Sky could never manage. Not only does she engage in these ill-conceived word games but she also lies and steals. She's a regular juvenile delinquent.
And she's only four.
As you know from previous posts (like this one and this one), Pink P's delinquency is primarily motivated by a strong desire for gum and candy. Sky wouldn't dream of taking Ren's chocolate without explicitly-stated permission. Pink P, on the other hand, won't hesitate to eat chocolate straight from Ren's fingers when he's looking the other way. She hides wrappers under furniture and claims innocence when you ask about the chocolate smudges on her face. Fortunately, her hiding and lying skills tend to falter under pressure, so I can keep up with her....for now. (I hate to think about when she's a teenager!)
She is not easily persuaded by typical forms of punishment or reward, so last week, I tried a new approach. My thinking was that maybe if I gave her more control over her snacks, like I did her brother, she'd stop stealing other peoples' stuff. So, I gave her a fifteen-piece pack of gum and explained the rules for responsible consumption.
#1 Ask Mom or Dad for permission before chewing a new piece.
#2 Don't swallow the gum.
#3 Dispose of used pieces in the trash can.
We went over these three rules a couple of times, and I clearly explained that failure to follow them would result in loss of gum privileges. She agreed, and our experiment was on. It seemed like such a great idea.
And it failed miserably.
All fifteen pieces of gum were gone in less than a day, and she only asked permission to chew the first piece. So, now we're back to a permanent gum embargo for Pink P, which I am sure will lead to more cases of theft and cunning.
In her defense (and I know I shouldn't defend her poor behavior), Pink P needs to establish a place for herself between her sometims mean and often needier older brother and her wholly-dependent and attention-grabbing baby brother. She has chosen to do this by wreaking all sorts of havoc at home (fortunately, she's fine at school). Bless Pink P for making her stand! I just hope it turns into lifelong independent thinking and not multiple stints in juvie.