The terrible twos are indeed, fairly terrible.
There's the constant screaming of, "NO!", the occasional hitting and/or kicking, and, of course, the always beloved tantrum-throwing. But one thing you can say for the twos is that at least they have the decency to give you some warning.
The horribleness of this age range is consistently conveyed by parenting tomes and fellow Moms alike. Such universal acknowledgement of all the ills the twos contain is comforting, and it helps one get ready. I mean, by the time you have a two-year-old, if you're not prepared to devote a full year of your existence to battles with your offspring over an unending range of senseless minutiae, you've really got no one to blame but yourself.
Then finally your child turns three, and you justifiably believe that your time of turmoil has come to an end. Patiently, you wait for the long-promised door to good behavior to open. Having survived 365 days of "the twos" you are poised to welcome the freedom from strife you have been told is at last, your due.
Until that day when you find yourself asking your three-year-old to put on his shoes...
...and rather than complying with this seemingly innocuous request, your child instead chooses to throw both said shoes directly towards your skull while screaming at the top of his lungs,
"I DON'T LIKE IT THOSE SHOES!!!!!!!"
You are confused.
What's going on here? By any calendric standards the terrible twos are, in fact, behind you. And yet, where is the calm and delightful three-year-old you've been promised?
You tell yourself that perhaps this incident was some sort of anomaly. Maybe your kiddo had a bad night's sleep. Or perhaps he ingested a bum chicken nugget and it is affecting his judgment.
You attempt to remain calm.
Several days later, you invite your darling three-year-old into a nice warm bath before bed, as you have done every single night of his life since birth. But instead of thanking you at some length for your thoughtfulness, your child chooses to take several nude laps around the house while shrieking at ear-piercing volume,
"I WON'T GO TO THE BATHTUB!!!!!! I WON'T!"
Something is definitely amiss here.
And so you seek out fellow mothers to demand some answers. What is going on? The terrible twos are supposed to be over! These are supposed to be the halcyon days of the terrific threes, are they not?
This is when your friends and peers finally tell you the truth - that three is NOT the end of the terrible twos, as you had been led to believe. Instead 'the terrible threes' are the unannounced rageful sequel to 'the terrible twos'. And they are so terrible that they often make the twos look like nothing more than a mild warm-up act.
You attempt to process this information. Unfortunately, you cannot, as you are far too busy fending off nuclear-level meltdowns from your toddler on subjects including but not limited to:
- I WANT TO SLEEP WITH THE POTTY IN THE BED!
- I DON'T WANT THE CAR TO BE RED ANYMORE! I WANT IT TO BE GREEN!
- I'M SCARED OF THE COUCH!
In your confusion you make the classic mistake of attempting to reason with your three-year-old. You lovingly discuss precisely why the couch is not scary. You carefully detail the downsides of having one's poop receptacle in the sleeping area. You calmly explain that one cannot change a vehicle's color using only one's mind.
In response your child strikes you about the face and neck before diving to the floor, kicking wildly, and smashing his fists upon the ground. And you come to accept that the twos were just the beginning. But now, the threes have arrived.