Over the past month or so, Lucia has occasionally resisted being buckled into her carseat. She asks to sit backwards, or in the middle by Greta, or in the front with me. Or she’ll sit down but say she’ll “be fine” without her seatbelt. In a rush one day, needing her to sit back and let me buckle her in, I said, “You know what will happen if you don’t wear your seatbelt? The police will stop our car and say, ‘Mama, you didn’t buckle in your little girl.’ And I’ll be in big trouble.”
I talk to Lucia constantly during the day, saying all manner of nonsense, but for some reason, this stuck. The next time we got in the car, she made a token resistance against her seatbelt, then prompted me: “And the police will say…” I made an ominous-sounding siren noise and then said in a deep, threatening voice, “Mama, you’re in big trouble.”
Ah, the mind of a three-year-old. Now, whenever I tell her to do anything (put on her shoes, sit down in her chair to eat, wear a sweater), she says, “And the police will say…” For a while, I just went along with it, making the siren noise and threatening myself for not making sure my little girl did whatever it was I needed her to do. But it’s gotten totally out of hand now. Last night, Lucia was huddled in a tiny space beside her crib, a space she calls her “secret hideout,” and she insisted that she would sleep there. After explaining several times that she couldn’t sleep in her hideout, she announced, “And the police will say…” I sighed. I told her the police really didn’t care where she slept, but that she still had to sleep in her crib. She seemed not to hear this. “And the police will say…,” she prompted. And so this new routine goes on.