A few days ago, Tiny1 offered me a bite of her banana. It was nearing its end, and I thought that was uncharacteristically generous of her, so I thanked her profusely and took the banana. She smiled encouragingly and told me to take a bite. Just a small one, Mommy.
I instinctively pulled the banana nubbin off- you know the one. The little brown-ish hard-ish nubbin at the end of the banana. The nubbin that no one eats. I pulled it off and threw it in the trash, where it belongs, and took a bite of the banana proper.
Tiny1 lost her mind.
I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO EAT THAT, MOMMY.
She had skipped the usual whining phase, opting instead to escalate directly to barely intelligible screaming. And I had no idea what she was talking about.
I… what? Honey, you handed me your banana and told me to take a bite. Did you not want me to take a bite? Were you pretending?
I WASN’T PRETENDING. I WANTED YOU TO TAKE A BITE.
I… honey. I’m confused. You wanted me to take a bite and I took a bite, so what’s wrong?
I WANTED YOU TO TAKE A DIFFERENT BITE.
I… ok. Honey. Which bite did you want me to take?
NOT THAT BITE I WANTED YOU TO TAKE A DIFFERENT BITE.
I… yes. Right. Which bite, though, honey?
At this point she dissolved into angry tears and thrashed her way to the garbage can.
THAT BITE, MOMMY. THE SMALL ONE.
I… oh. You wanted me to eat the nubbin? Oh, honey. No one eats that. That’s why I put it in the trash.
I WANTED YOU TO EAT IT.
I’m not going to do that, honey. That part is yucky.
EAT IT, MOMMY. TAKE THAT BITE OUT OF YOUR MOUTH AND GIVE IT BACK TO ME AND PUT THAT OTHER BITE IN.
I already swallowed the first bite, honey. I’m not going to eat the nubbin.
Her barely intelligible screams went full-on unintelligible and she climbed up into my lap. She attempted to open my mouth, screaming the entire time, desperate to reclaim the small bite I had taken of the banana proper.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t there.
She lost it further, which was a surprise, because I thought she had already maxed out. She thrashed her way to the garbage can and picked up the nubbin.
TAKE THAT BITE OUT AND PUT THIS BITE IN RIGHT NOW.
Honey, I’m sorry I ate the wrong bite, but we don’t eat nubbins and I already swallowed the other bite. Put that back in the trash, please.
She howled with rage and climbed back into my lab.
PUT THIS BITE IN.
PUT THIS BITE IN.
I’m not going to do that. Please get down and put it back in the trash.
I WANT A HUGGIE, MOMMY.
You can have a huggie any time, honey. Just get down and put that back in the trash and we can do huggies, ok?
Oh! If I get down and put this in the trash over there I can have a huggie?
You got it, honey.
She cheerfully climbed down, deposited the nubbin in the trash, and returned for her huggie.
Tiny1 is 3 years old, or nearly so. From what I can tell, this is standard behavior. She’s a threenager, people tell me. Threevil. She’s having strong emotions that she doesn’t know how to handle and sometimes can’t even identify, and my job is to teach her how to manage those emotions. But the best I can do, usually, is wait for her rage to subside without giving in to unreasonable demands or laughing in her face. And then give her a huggie.