I think I clinched the Father of the Year award last night. I’ve begun mocking my three-year-old.

Like most kids her age, M. has developed a potty mouth. She’s not dropping f-bombs or anything, but she does walk around talking about pee and poop all the time, and then acts like it’s super funny. Again, I blame the heathens in her preschool class for introducing her to these concepts. She’s smart about it, too. The other night, after warning her that she was going into timeout if that language continued, she dropped this line on me:

“Dad, I’m talking about the wetter P. P-P-P-P-P!” Evil laugh. (L’s are pronounced as W’s now, by the way.) Well played, three-year-old girl!

In concert with this potty talk has come a new sensitivity to odors. She never used to talk about things that smelled, but in recent weeks she’s begun making a big deal about them. If C. has a smelly diaper, M. throws a fit and says, “C. has a stinky diaper, Dad. Can you change it pwease?” I appreciate the assist, but she gets all worked up, to the point of tears some days, and it seems a little extreme.

She doesn’t limit this to offensive odors, either. The other morning, while S. was fixing M.’s hair for school, she claimed that S.’s hair smelled, even though she had showered that morning. “Mom, your hair stinks! I don’t wike it. Get away from me!” It didn’t seem to phase her that she had the same conditioner in her hair.

All this leads up to the mocking. Yesterday I was getting the girls a snack to tide them over until dinner. When I leaned in to put the pretzels on M.’s tray, she started her odor act. “Dad, you stink! No, no, no! Get away from me!” Fake tears, yelling, the whole deal. I started to do my usual correction of her behavior and offer to put her into timeout if she didn’t chill out. Instead, I decided to fight fire with fire. As I poured her some milk and prepared to give it to her, I backed off, made a horrible face, and repeated her words.

“M., wow, you really stink. Yuck, get away from me. I don’t want to smell you!”

A moment of surprise, shock, and indecision and then screaming and real tears. Awesome!

I let her cry it out for awhile and then asked her if she liked it when I told her she stank. She said no, and I told her no one likes to hear that they stink, so she needed to stop saying that. She said she understood, but we’ll see if we have to go through this again.

And for the record, I did not stink. I had showered in the morning, shaved so I still had a hint of aftershave going on, and in general, I’m a pretty good smelling guy. She had no reason for complaint. If anything, she should have been telling me how good I smelled.

So thumbs up or thumbs down on the mocking? I have to admit, it felt kind of good. Does that make me a bad parent, or just one using whatever means necessary to get through the day?