When Jesus can’t convince them, throw some marshmallows on top.

I’m quickly realizing that Harrison (8) is an easy child. He has never given us a problem at school, preschool, or church, knows how to speak the local language without any difficulties, and does not wet his pants.

I love that kid.

As for the rest of them, I think fate was trying to trick us into this parenting business and yesterday I felt like a big fat failure.

June has been doing great at preschool–until this week. I went in yesterday and the poor teachers were beside themselves with frustration. Having lived with June for over three years now, I know that there are moments when I would rather stick my head in the toilet and give myself a swirlie than deal with all her strength and willpower. One Two Three Try Not To Kill Her seems to be the method that works best around here.

This sudden burst of bad behavior has come as a total shock to her teachers. She’s eating puzzle pieces and throwing the game boards around the room, refusing to listen to anything and wreaking havoc on anyone and everyone. It’s bad, and the language barrier doesn’t help.

The thing is, I know what’s wrong with her, but I have no idea how to fix it.

Last week June came home and started telling me that one of the little girls in her class won’t play with her. She loves this little girl, she wants to be friends with this little girl, but this little girl has suddenly decided that she no longer wants to play with June, she wants to play with someone else.

Honestly, my daughter is three. Do we really have to start in on the little girl drama this early?

I know she’s acting out because she wants this little girl to pay attention to her, but she isn’t old enough to realize that this kind of behavior isn’t going to win her anyone’s friendship. She thinks she’s being funny and silly to the other kids.

I stood there yesterday and listened to the laundry list of her misdeeds, feeling red in the face and embarrassed to have created such a little beast. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes like a thousand hot little needles; can’t these kids do anything right in the German schools? What am I doing wrong here?

I assured the teachers that I understand better than anyone just how difficult she can be, and told them I wouldn’t bring her back. I think they were expecting me to argue with them on her behalf, because they got much nicer once I offered to keep her away (also all the stupid tears probably made them think I’m a big ninny who could use some outside help, which is right). They insisted I bring her back every day, that we would work on it.

After talking with my neighbor (who is smart and wise and wonderful), I think I’ve got a plan. Today June only gets to go to school for two hours. I am taking in a big bag of marshmallows and a small empty container. Every time she is good, she gets a marshmallow in the jar. At the end of the day, she can eat her earned marshmallows in the car.

I also told her this morning that the only person who matters is Jesus, but she looked at me like I’m some kind of idiot who knows nothing about playing princess. I guess that lecture doesn’t hold as much weight when you’re three. Maybe next time I’ll throw Jesus and Santa in together and see if it makes more sense.


  1. You may also want to throw one of the Wiggles into the mix. Then, God willing, I think it will work. I also hope that working for marshmallows doesn’t become a pattern in her life.

  2. Marshmallows didn’t work for some behavioral things w/ my #2 years ago. Neither did money or a million other things. BUT I finally did land on what worked.

    Keep at it. And when you’re losing your mind, eat the marshmallows she didn’t earn. 🙂

  3. Oh, I love you. I just do. Is that okay, even though we’ve never met? Yesterday, my children had me ready to call the local sheriff and see if he’d lock me up.

    • annie valentine says:

      I’ll share a cell with you. The German polezi already think I’m the worlds worst mother.

  4. Oh. Wow. Annie …. you are sooo good on letting us in! Love your style.

    Well …. kids are kids. Not all alike though. Those 3-year olds can be tricky …. headsrong + willful. I see the child’s point though. She wants a friendship w/that little girl. A simple request. What to do? I say just keep talking to June. Nothing terrible though. This is what parenting is all about. So, you have to work it ….. gently. I can tell you stories that will curl your hair ….. for every day of the week!!!

    You know ….. thinking about this subject ….. I wonder if there are toddler books for these types of issues. Sure. Must be. If not, (maybe) write one …. together!!! Hopefully, June loves reading.

    Love your posts. Your children are gorgeous!! You are one of my newest fans Annie. Found your blog as I always do …. accidently. A sweet accident!

    • annie valentine says:

      Marcee, if she survives the next three years please remind about the book idea. And I love you! Thank you for accidentally being my friend.

  5. Oh Annie… I can feel your mother-love in your words. I really feel for you and am sending you a huge virtual hug…

    My mom once taught kindergarten in a district where many of the students were non-English speaking. The kids had a terrible time until they understood enough English to be able to communicate with my mom and with their peers. It’s really rough. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I wonder if June’s behavior is less about that little girl and more about all of the overwhelming changes in general – being somewhere new, away from what she knows, in a new place where she can’t understand what people are saying, and where she can’t communicate with other people. I can imagine that she would have a LOT of confused and upset feelings about that, and probably not the language skills to express them. I think it sounds perfectly natural and normal that she is acting out. Hopefully once the language barrier is less of an issue, she will start acting more like herself?

    Hang in there my friend…

  6. Oh, I’m so sorry. God sent me my biggest challenge in child #1 and I have my own share of preschool horror stories. Some involving overturned 5 gallon buckets of water. I can’t imagine doing it in German. Hang in there. Mine”s in first grade now and doing fine. Parenting — it’s not for sissies, but it sounds like you are more than tough enough to take it. We get a medal or something at the end, right?

  7. I want to just run over you & hug June cause the poor little girl just sounds so frustrated. It’s so hard to be a mom but you are doing all the right things. Hang in there! When you watch your sweet baby graduate hs/seminary, see her off to college/mission & then watch her kneel across the alter from the wonderful man who will be her mate you will laugh at this. Promise. My mom laughed at me! (well not as I left for a mission or the temple sealing – haven’t done those yet but working on Hubby!)

  8. Oh, nuts!!! I just re-read what I wrote. It was supposed to say “I want to just run over & hug YOU & June! That sounds so mean when I re-read it. I’m so sorry!!! (this is me over in a corner kicking myself because that sounds so awful up there. Again, very, very sorry!)

  9. that’s tough…especially when your in a different country and a new language to learn, hope they can adjust better and everyone can understand and practice patience!