A little under a year ago I was extolling the virtues of having a two year old. I thought perhaps it was my destiny to be blessed with a toddler, my daughter, who didn’t attempt to destroy me at every turn during the infamous, “Terrible Two” stage. I figured out real quick that the terrible twos were a myth; a conspiracy to fool would-be-parents that the most challenging of stages only lasts a little while. I don’t know about you, but I went into parenting thinking that the toddler and teenager years were the most difficult. What I’ve learned is that all of these stages just kind of melt into each other.
But I no idea how crazytown things could get. So challenging that I often need to remind myself that I am in fact on planet earth. That the incredible resistance that I am met with on the daily are housed by a young girl possessing such traits that aren’t the easiest to teach. I have to remind myself that she comes by them naturally and that they will serve her well in life, through the many obstacles yet to come.
It is a heady combination, almost mesmerizing in fact, to know and love my daughter in this very stage of self-discovery and expression that she is in. While I find myself at times longing for the less volatile version of her that she was a mere year ago, I can only laugh at it. After all, humor from stage to stage, milestone to milestone, is part of what gets us parents through.
You know that immensely popular game, Cards Against Humanity? Exactly.
So, I amuse myself these days as I am subject to the slamming of doors and exclamations of worlds ending, while reminiscing on how less mind-boggling her tantrums were when she was but two years old. The comparisons come easy and they’re really quite something to marvel at …
1. The tantrums become expressions of extreme attitude.
When once they cried for their sippy cup or their lovie … they now flip their lid over nothing at all. Proclamations will be made with ear-piercing force that, “I LIKE being mean.” Or, “I am a DRAGON today.” “No one EVER LOVES ME!” “I don’t love ANYONE TODAY!” “I am NOT HAPPY with you!” “You are NOT a nice mama!” “I can’t BELIEVE this is happening to me today!” And so on and so forth. Such declarations can often be heard through the door that was slammed but moments before, down the hall, and outside on the front lawn on a good day. If you dare open your windows with a threenager in the house, your neighbors may think you are torturing your mini-kind. Baby and toddler crying? People keep on walking. Shrieks of rage and slamming of doors and volcanic eruptions of sorrow and calamity, however, are more difficult to ignore.
2. Wardrobe malfunctions become fashion woes.
Instead of constant wardrobe changes revolving around how much they spit-up or spill food on themselves, poonamis, wiping their nose on their arm, etc., it now revolves around their constant desire to dress-up. Whether that be in princess or fairy; firefighters or dragon-slayer costumes. Regular clothing changes are frequent too. Better socks, Spider-man undies over Cookie Monster; every dress in the closet must be worn in one day when you are a threenager.
3. Babbling is replaced by mad negotiating skills.
Gone are the days of cute babbles or nonsensical expressions of anger and frustration. (Obviously, when the English language has yet to be learned.) Once a three-year-old is able to express their thoughts, watch out. Because they will put sentences together to work in their favor or even use your own expressions against you. The capacity of a three-year-old’s brain is mighty and the wield of their wordy sword is strong. Getting them to bed has never been so hard and you’ll be yearning for the days where you walked the floors rocking and bouncing, singing songs and reading stories. Because now you have to do all that AND negotiate with them. (No, I don’t actually negotiate with them about bedtime.)
4. Time still evaporates but in favor of independence now.
Instead of having to fraction out at least 20 minutes of extra time before leaving the house to get them all suited up in whatever they need to be wearing, out the door, and buckled into their car seat, you now have to allot that time to allow them to do these things themselves. Or else suffer the wrath and histrionics. Also, some expert said somewhere that we probably should let our kids do things for themselves or something.
5. Instead of food flinging you get food critics.
Gone are the days where you avoid feeding them anything small or smearable to somehow lessen the amount of cleaning you do. With a three-year old you’ll hear just how disgusting they think your food is. You’ll find yourself answering (and lying) to a myriad of questions about the ingredients of what you’ve presented them with. You’ll find yourself, exasperated after the 20th refusal, saying something along the lines of, “there are children who are starving, who have nothing to eat.” Or, “you’ll eat it because I said so.” Now that’s a really horrific thought, huh? Congratulations, you’ve turned into the exact type of parent you said you never would: your own parents. And now you understand and you’re sorry. So very sorry.
Even after all of this and in knowing that there is so much more that I’m not covering here, the fact that having a three-year-old is worse than having a two-year-old, really is the best thing in the world. Confusing, I know. I think it’s supposed to be. What a complete mind trip, this parenting thing is! Earth shattering and mind-blowing, a three-year-old has the ability to change your entire outlook on life. They can even change the way you see yourself. And not to mention, they’re a constant source of amusement. Even when it’s bad, I’m still smiling a little. Perhaps not all the time, but more often than not. Little turkeys.