If you have a two year old, and you think the twos are “terrible,” let me break it to ya: the twos ain’t nothin’. Three year olds is where it’s at. I’ve had a three year old for about a month now, so I am still new to this “parenting a three year old” thing, but I already have a few observations. Basically, three year olds are insane. They are completely verbal, so their eloquence will sometimes fool you into thinking that you are dealing with a rational person. Trust me, you are not. You are dealing with a pint-sized human being, who is still constantly overwhelmed by his feelings and thoughts and the inability to cope with the fact that not everything can go his way all the time.
Example no. 1:
Leaving the house. It’s really not a big deal. Right? As an adult, you put your shoes on and grab your keys, and off you go. As a mother of a young child under three, you put shoes on your kid, even if you have to physically overwhelm them to do so. Then you grab your bag and leave. As a mother of a three year old, you do a lot of prep work. “We will leave the house in a few minutes. You will need to get your shoes. We will be leaving very shortly.” A three year old will make you believe that everything is ok. He will respond and let you think that yes, we will be leaving the house in a few minutes, and everything’s cool. But then, within a split second, the air changes, and all of a sudden the little brother needs a push that will send him flying, the door needs to be opened and banged shut 10 to 25 times, ears all of a sudden are no longer capable of hearing, shoes are terrible, confining things created by someone who doesn’t understand feet at all, and good god whatever you say, I will do the opposite.
Example no. 2:
Dinner time. We don’t cater to our boys’ dinner requests. They eat what we eat. Occasionally, I will ask Julian what he wants for dinner and make what he wants, but since that is pizza 100% of the time, it’s just not gonna happen every day of the damn week. I cook pretty edible things. Lots of chicken, rice, fish, pasta, beef. And lots and lots of veggies. Oh veggies, you colorful, offensive things of pure evil. How my three year old detests you. He won’t even look at you. Unfortunately for everyone, we have one rule in our house: Don’t knock it until you try it. Or: You don’t have to like everything, but you have to try everything. It’s a painful rule, but it works. Usually it means that Julian will stare at his dinner plate for a good 20 minutes after we’ve all finished. But in the end he will always try and usually like what’s in front of him. If he could just get to that realization without the daily power struggle (added bonus: screaming!), I’d be pretty pleased.
Example no. 3:
Everything else. I want a snack. I want to play iPad. I want to watch TV. I want to watch more TV. I want to sit here on top of your neck. I want to have the toy I haven’t looked at in a week that my brother just picked up. No, I want only that one particular toy. Oh. He dropped it. Never mind. I want that other toy he’s holding now. I need to push him now. Also, I can’t hear you. Can’t! Hear! You! Need to bang this thing here really loud. Open the fridge, close it again. Scream a little just for kicks. Why? Because I’m three, and I’m awesome.
So why do we keep Julian around? Because all these moments are wedged in between moments of pure and genuine joy with this child. Because he will redeem himself. With an apology that was unprompted. By biting blueberries in half and sharing them with his brother. By holding doors for me or whispering “You are the best mama” at the end of the day. By telling a joke or resting his blond head of messy hair in my lap.
P.S. What’s for dinner tonight? Pizza. You guessed it.