Most moms want to think their daughters are sweet and strong — effectively that they’ve birthed the human equivalent of cotton candy: delicately spun pink sugar elegantly fused to a durable paper cone.

I’m no exception, having assumed in the nearly 17 months since my little girl was born that the soft cooing noises emanating from the baby monitor in the wee hours of the morning are the sounds of my very own daisy blooming (if daisies were capable of making noise, that is).

So it’s never any fun when you suspect that your offspring might be displaying at least three of the 14 most common traits of a serial killer, according to Dr. Phil.

The first sign of trouble appeared when my little bundle of joy walked up to another toddler and walloped him out of the blue. Granted the kid she smacked is a year older and has been batting my daughter around since practically the day she was born. Even still, my husband and I looked on in horror. Actually, only I did. He rationalized it as payback for all the times the boy had pulled our daughter’s hair or shoved her to the ground when he thought no one was watching.

But then a few hours later, my baby smacked me, too. Of course it didn’t hurt physically. But emotionally, I’m still scarred. It’s kind of hard not to take it personally given the fact that I carted her around in my uterus for, like, 15 months and never once complained (or hardly ever) that she pressed on my bladder for nearly the entire time.

She’s now taken a liking to hitting (trait No. 14 on Dr. Phil’s serial killer list). When I say, “No,” or “Don’t touch that,” or, especially, “No hitting,” she takes her best shot, usually at me. On the occasions that she’s refrained from hitting, she’s discovered how to give me the stink eye. I figured I had at least until middle school before she started floating like a butterfly and stinging like a queen bee. Clearly she’s an overachiever (trait No. 2).

Last week she was sitting on my lap when she became displeased that the book she wanted me to read to her was a few millimeters out of her reach. Frustrated, she jerked her head forward until which time it met up at full speed with the part of my cheekbone directly under my eye. My shiner, which looks like a remnant from 1975’s Thrilla in Manila, is starting to heal, but not before a few dozen people have looked at it and then my husband to see if he bears any resemblance to Charlie Sheen. With her rosy cheeks and charming inability to go tinkle on the potty, my little angel is above suspicion.

Thankfully though, the vast majority of Dr. Phil’s serial killer characteristics don’t apply to my daughter. For instance, more than 90 percent of serial killers are male (trait No. 1), which my daughter is most decidedly not, judging by the abundance of pastels in her wardrobe and her strategic ability to cry on cue if she thinks doing so will earn her another “Baby Boost” video or Fig Newton.

Like the word “no,” she doesn’t mess around when it comes to food. When she’s given Cheerios but really wants toast, she makes sure those whole grain oats rue the day they were toasted, packaged, shipped, purchased and thoughtlessly placed before her at the breakfast table.

However, even though she’s never had trouble holding down a job (trait No. 3) or been fascinated with fire starting (trait No. 13), my concerns that she’ll end up among the ranks of Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy were heightened further a few weeks ago when we were playing in the kitchen after dinner and she tugged at my leg, indicating she wanted me to toss her in the air. Just as I lifted her, tilted my head back and opened my mouth to exclaim, “Wheeee,” she parted with the remnants of her dinner that had previously been in her stomach. Without getting into too much detail, the final resting place of her peas and chicken nuggets further enforced Newton’s theory of gravity as well as trait No. 7 on Dr. Phil’s serial killer list.

Sure, baby experts will argue that aggressive outbursts and vomiting are typical for children under the age of 3 (although not necessarily at the same time). And thankfully, in the past few days the hitting has actually started to subside and is being replaced with fall to the floor, bang her head, arch her back and wail like a banshee-type tantrums. And her food has stayed in her mouth and out of mine. Things are looking decidedly better.

I suppose in the end if the worst thing about her is only that she’s responsible for the untimely death of a few Cheerios, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief. Mostly because if I’m breathing it means she hasn’t succeeded in killing me.

More on and from Meredith at www.MeredithCarroll.com.