My niece is not quite 3. I find her utterly brilliant. I was eating a kind of fruit snack the other day and she actually asked if there were peanuts in it (she can't eat peanuts). I said no. Then she asked if she could have one! She's not even 3! Her speech is just utterly amazing.
This brilliance, however, means she picks up on all kinds of things and she said something yesterday that at first left me kind of shocked, then sad. I was dropping my two off at a science workshop, leaving the newest little one asleep in his car seat, my niece in her car seat, and the 16yo to watch over them. I got back in the van and the 16yo shows me a broken Ken doll--my niece had been doing something with it and snapped the head off. She said, and I'm pretty sure I'm quoting correctly: "I'm not a good kid, huh?" (insert wide-eyed shocked face here)
It just points to a certain reality about our society: we have a way of making feel kids bad about themselves when they make mistakes. We talk to them more harshly about their mistakes than we would to a fellow adult (well, assuming we're not in a bad relationship with them), even though kids are less capable than adults and need more patience and care. We make big deals out of little things, affecting their sense of self. I catch myself especially with my son. How am I affecting him by forgetting that he's just a kid? By treating him as though he ought to be more on the ball than a friend or my husband?
I hope this 2yo's words stick with me forever.