I Am Pavlov’s Dog

(And my three-year-old is Pavlov.)

So, it’s no secret that three-year-olds are a whiny lot.  I would actually argue (based on my vast experience) that the threes are whinier than the twos, and I firmly believe that the fours are whinier than the threes.  I’ve had one other three-year-old before this, so clearly, I am an expert.  They whine, they complain, they lose their abilities to walk or talk in complete sentences or use words at all.  Whining in all of its varied forms is a time honored three-year-old tradition.  And up until recently, I really thought, as the bad-ass warrior mother that I am, I was pretty immune to it.  Except that last night at dinner…

We use clothe napkins for a variety of reasons (they’re good for the environment; they tend to [I find] be more functional their paper counterparts; and dammit, they make you feel like a classier, more evolved human being!), and for some reason, certain people* at the table have all the feels about which napkin is placed by their plate.  Yesterday come dinner time, we were down to one napkin (because I forgot to put the dirty ones in the washer, okay?!), so I had Maddie grab a couple of kitchen towels out of the linen drawer, and she dutifully set one beside her sister’s plate.  Which prompted:

“Hey!  Why do I have ‘dis?  I don’t like ‘dis!  I want the BLUE napkin!”

(Please note that the towel she’d been given was in fact blue…because of course it was.)

And without thinking, I promptly picked up my napkin and handed it to her.  “Here, you can have this.  I’ll use the towel.”

WHUT.  No, stop whining.  No, this is not a big deal, we’re not going to cry over a napkin.  No suck it up you three-foot tyrant.  Just here you go, no big deal.  Of course you can have the blue napkin, as is your right.  And then…I realized this exact same thing had happened two days before.

I am Pavlov’s dog.  My three-year-old has trained me to so dislike her whining that I will jump up and do her bidding, just to keep it from going too far.  This is ridiculous.  Clearly, I am badly off my game.  There is no way I would ever, EVER let Maddie get away with crap like this at this age.  But no more my friends–the whine stops here.  (Which may, in fact, result in more wine stopping here.  And by here I mean my mouth, in case that wasn’t clear.)  She will learn to use the dreaded red (or gray-green) napkins, and walk down the stairs, and go get her own shoes, and stack up her own books, and all the other ludicrous shit I’ve been letting her get away with.  The tail will wag the dog no longer!  At least until she has a full on meltdown in Target.  Because I have a very low tolerance for the side-eye of strangers…


Sigh.  Wish me luck.  I’m obviously sort of terrible at being a hard-ass.



*I am firmly and without hesitation placing the blame on Jon for this one as he has a weird dislike for this set of red napkins we’ve had since college, and he’s been very vocal about this strange aversion in front of the girls. To the point of getting up and getting himself a different napkin.  Because he is a man-child.