“So is there anything you want to tell me so I’m not surprised?” I asked Natalie as we drove to her parent/teacher conference at her preschool.
Natalie tapped her chin. Oh God, she was totally about to tell me that she’s a complete hellion in school.
“I like the peanuts,” Natalie finally replied.
What did that have to do with anything? Sometimes talking to a three-year-old is like talking to Gary Busey. Or, these days, Charlie Sheen. What was she going to tell me next? That she has Tiger Blood?
“That’s nice,” I answered slowly. “But how is it going in preschool?”
Natalie didn’t respond. She was busy flipping through a Princess book.
“Like, do you listen to the teacher?” I tried again.
Natalie calmly turned the page in her book. It was as if she were purposely ignoring me. Oh no. What if she does that in preschool? What if the teacher is trying to get her to name her shapes and Natalie blatantly ignores her?
“I’m talking to you,” I said firmly as I turned the car into the parking lot at Natalie’s school.
“Belle is my favorite princess,” Natalie finally responded, shutting her book when she realized she was at school.
“Belle has nothing to do with anything,” I said, my teeth clenched. She really tries my patience.
“Preschool!” Natalie said excitedly.
I helped her out of her car seat. “Is there anything you want to tell me before we go in?” I prodded.
If she mentioned the peanuts again, I was going to lose it.
Instead she just clamped her mouth shut.
We walked to her classroom and waited outside the door for a few minutes.
“Last chance to admit stuff to me,” I warned Natalie.
“Look! My cubby!” she said grandly.
When we were called back, I was a little nervous. It’s just, you never know with Natalie. She has a mouth on her and she can be stubborn, which is my polite way of saying bratty.
I settled down in the seat across from the teachers.
“Natalie is very bright,” one of the teachers began.
I relaxed. She’s bright! Everything is okay.
“She goes along with the classroom routine and sits during circle time,” the other teacher continued.
“But,” the teacher said.
But. What’s with the but? Buts are never good. (Cue butt joke here.)
“Natalie tends to be a follower when she’s with other girls. For example, she plays with two other girls and we had a new girl begin preschool...and one of those girls told Natalie that she shouldn’t play with the new girl or let the new girl play with any of the dress up clothes and Natalie went long with that.”
Wha—why did I feel like I was in that movie Mean Girls? Was Natalie being Lindsay Lohan? She couldn’t be Lindsay Lohan!
“That starts already?” I said stupidly. “These girls are 3 and 4.”
One of Natalie teachers nodded. “It starts early. Natalie isn’t the one suggesting that everyone be mean, she just follows along. We’d like her to be more of a leader and to stand up for herself.”
I flashed back to Natalie screaming at me that morning that she would NOT wear the pretty blue dress. She certainly doesn’t hesitate standing up to ME.
“And also, Natalie can be shy in class. She answers questions, but she speaks softly so we have to ask her to speak up,” the teacher explained.
Softly? What’s softly? Natalie never does anything softly when she’s with me. Unless she’s flat out ignoring me.
Still. At least it meant she wasn’t loud in class. I suppose it’s better that I get her, um, NOISY side.
“But basically, Natalie is doing great,” the teacher finished.
Only she’s Lindsay freaking Lohan.
We needed to have a talk. And talk we did as we left the classroom.
“Natalie,” I began. “If you’re hanging out with friends and they tell you to be mean to another girl, what will you do?”
Natalie shrugged. “I say ‘okay.’”
She says OKAY?
“No,” I said. I stopped and bent down to her level. “It’s never okay to be mean to someone else. If your friends say to be mean, you tell them to—” I paused. What I wanted to say is, ‘you tell them to stop being little bitches’ but that wouldn’t be appropriate to tell a preschooler.
“You tell them no,” I said. “You tell them that you are friends with everyone. Okay?”
I thought Natalie would be moved by my speech. Instead she took advantage of my talk and was digging through my purse. “Are there candies in here?” she asked sweetly.
“Natalie,” I tried again. “We have to be nice to everyone, okay? No matter what your friends tell you to do. Trust me, you don’t want to be Lindsay Lohan.”
Natalie cocked her head to the side, taking this all in. “Okay,” she agreed.
“Now can I have some candies?”