It's hard to know what's a stage and what's the perminant personality of the child, the result of my less-than-perfect parenting. I know that's a lot of pressure to put on myself, but seriously. Or maybe they're all stages and they will run right up against each other, one after another, until they finally give way to adulthood when the kid is long gone. Then he'll look back and think how grateful he is for all the things mom did for him although he didn't appreciate them at the time. (I use the masculine for that theoretical statement because I really only assume that might happen with my son, simply because daughters are eternally ungrateful. Aren't they?)
Sigh. Frances is difficult these days. We recently had a meeting with one of her preschool teachers to ask her how to get Frances to stop shoving Clark into furniture, and ended up talking a lot about this stage and independence and the changes that are going on in her life like Clark's asserting himself more. The things she said were really helpful and I felt very encouraged and prepared to go back to Frances with a new focus and approach. Then we got home and within 20 minutes I was hollering. Sigh.
One thing the teacher said that could possibly be really helpful if I can remember it at the appropriate moments is that I don't have to react RIGHT AWAY when she does something. I can take a breath and think about how I want to react. This is true: although Frances is doing things that hurt Clark or at least irritate him enough to make him scream (like dragging him by the arm over to where she wants him to play), she isn't putting his life in danger. I can probably afford to pause for a beat just to keep myself from leaping and reacting in ways that aren't helpful. But it's so hard to do! Some other creature takes over my body and I vault over furniture to separate them. I'll try, though.