Have you ever had one of those moments where your child is screaming and crying because they want something or maybe they’re upset about something so irrational, that you yell out “TOO BAD!” As you’re walking away? … yeeeaaahhh, not my finest parenting moment.
Here’s the deal y’all: three is no joke.
The whole time we were in the twos, I had heard all about how three so much worse. I kept thinking how that was totally fine because twos were a dreamboat for us. I figured, “well, this is a breeze, so some slight degree harder than this will still be nothing”.
*Insert me eating my words at this exact moment. *
We’ve housed a three year old for approximately two months and in the last couple of weeks, she’s taken up residence as our house Tyrant. She rules the roost with iron fist and a heart of gold. I realize that the last sentence was kind of contradictory, but it makes sense, I swear. That’s because the most confusing part of raising a three-year-old: it’s actually more like raising two totally different three year olds at once.
One of our three year olds is sweet and caring and utterly hilarious. This one loves playing pranks, inventing new games, coloring pictures for friends and family, and snuggling before bed. She gives the most precious hugs and kisses and declares her love for you every other breath. But the other one? Well the other one has epic meltdowns in the middle of stores. The other one balls up her fists in rage and screams in your face with tears in her eyes. She wont leave the house because you didn’t style your hair the way she likes. (True story) This one makes you realize the truth behind the saying “the days are long, but the years are short”, because these days feel SO long.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a post about how I have a solution for you if you’re living with a threenager. This is more of a reminder to myself (and I guess to you!) to remain calm. To read about how children’s brains develop; about impulse control, or lack thereof, at three years old. To remember that these little tiny bodies are housing big feelings and even bigger emotions that they haven’t learned how to handle yet. To remember the second half of that quote: “…the years are short”. As parents, it’s our job to teach our little ones how to handle themselves when they’re overcome with emotions in a short, short period of time. Think about it: we expect our kids to go from toddling little babies to acting like mature, reserved adults. Clearly that logic is flawed.
Some days, I’m really good about staying calm and using what I know about nurturing this delicate developmental stage. And other days (Hell, a lot of times it’s in the same day), I shout “TOO BAD” while walking out of the room. When that happens, I almost immediately turn back, feeling awful for being so frustrated and insensitive. No one WANTS to act like a lunatic. It’s a trying time for all of us.
I hope that I’ll read this in six months and laugh. That I’ll be able to write a follow-up post all about how “it gets better” and I’ll write about my glorious advice to you. Until then, I’ll keep sending myself subtle reminders to hold it together, to take lots of deep breaths… and drink lots of wine. Cheers, friends.