Sunday, May 5, 2013

being three

Being three must be hard. I try to imagine what's going on in my W's little brain sometimes, and I can see why Mommy's rules make no sense. Why do we have to go sit on the potty even if we don't have to pee? Why can't I yell loudly when I see an older person and it reminds me of Nana? What's wrong with taking E's blueberries if she's not eating them quickly enough? Why can't I go to the park even though you're in a hurry to go to work? A three year old's job is to test limits, go over boundaries, and watch Mommy's reaction to see what's acceptable and what's not. Since most of those limit-crossing experiences are NOT acceptable, it makes sense that W is melting down all the time and appears not to listen. Ever. I know his hearing is fine because in quiet moments, we'll marvel at the fact that we can hear the airplane flying several thousand feet above us (almost imperceptibly so). But at three, hearing Mommy's commands and listening to rules must just be impossible. Like Charles Schultz's parents: "wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah!"

Being the Mommy of a three year old is also hard. I sometimes want to throw my own temper tantrum or set down rules that are more than illogical. Today, for example, we took both kids to the grocery store. Yes, I realize that was a dumb move on our part. When W and E decided it was a good idea to run down the aisles screaming at the top of their lungs, I really just wanted to leave. Leave the cart, walk out the door, get in the car, come home, and put him in time out for several hours while I got a bottle of wine and calmed the fuck down. Obviously, I didn't do that. Hours-long time out is certainly counterproductive and it was only 8:30 a.m. And a Mommy temper tantrum wouldn't work either if I'm trying to model what a reasonable person is. So instead, we rushed through the end of the shopping trip, we came home, and since the storm had passed by the time we unloaded the grocery bags, we mostly let the aisle-screaming episode pass.

We are doing all the things other parents do--time-outs, taking away favorite toys, asking W to use words to express himself instead of randomly hitting his sister or yelling nonsense words at us at the top of his lungs. Baby E (1.5 years old) is not an instigator of these behaviors, but damn it if she's not right in the "imitate everything W does" stage. So if he screams, she screams. If he yells, she yells. If he cries, she often cries. Excellent. Our house is a whole lot of noise these days. As loud and rude as the punk clubs I used to frequent in my 20s, but without all the alcohol and tattoos.

I get that this is all normal three (and sometimes four) year old behavior. I know it's a phase and it will pass like all the other phases. It's kicking my ass, though, and some days it feels like there is not enough wine in the world to ease the stress of a three year old tantrum.

As I typed that last sentence, I heard the pitter patter of his little feet coming down the stairs. He'd just woken up from his afternoon nap. He greeted me with a huge smile and a long sweet hug. I'll keep this three year old after all (though I still want my wine, even though its' only 3:45 in the afternoon).


  1. My daughter will be three in a month and I can already tell it's going to be hard. Of course two was already really hard, so I'm hoping I'm at least somewhat prepared. We shall see...

    I hope it gets better for you and yours soon.

  2. I could have written all of this (no surprise since my kids are the exact same age) except mine doesn't nap anymore. So yeah. Lots of wine.
    My favorite part of this, however, is this: "the stress of a three year old tantrum". This just explained why I often feel so utterly exhausted & defeated all the time---I am living with an almost perpetual source of stress in my life.

  3. Hey Rachael! I answered your question about how to dress hip and funky at work. I hope it's helpful and please let me know if you have any questions.

  4. So excited, Jjiraffe. Thank you! I love the advice and will comment there as well.