Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Power of Three



Let me let you in on a little parenting secret.

The Terrible Twos? You are given fair warning to expect 365 days of unreasonable behavior, fervent tantrums, and an endless usage of the word "NO!" 


But what people don't tell you is that there is a terrifying sequel to the Terrible Twos -- the "Even More Terrible Threes."



I opined on this subject once before when my now four-year-old was three, but I feel it bears revisiting now that my second son has entered the age range.

My second child (a boy) was a rather classic two-year-old. His favorite pastime was shrieking "NO!" at top-volume, and he enjoyed the occasional bout of rage-induced biting. But I mean, he was two. He was small, easy to tote over to the naughty chair, and I could almost always appease him through the judicious use of sugary snacks.

Now that he has turned three, however, it's a WHOLE NEW BALLGAME.

For one thing his vocabulary has exploded. A frequently-discussed milestone for this age group is that a child should be able to "use words to get his needs met." Let me tell you that my son is NAILING that milestone. The problem from our end is that his needs are both so frequent and so random that we have more than a little trouble keeping up. And, let me tell you, when a three-year-old's needs are not met in a timely manner? It is on, as the kids say, like Donkey Kong.


Our son leaps from his bed each morning and invades our bedroom with his first words of the day. Usually they are something along the lines of: 

"WHAT ARE YOU MAKING ME FOR BREAKFAST!?!"

I have learned through trial and error that answering this question is futile as it merely leads to an exchange like this:

"How about pancakes?"

"NOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

"Some nice waffles!"

"NOO! THAT'S YUCKY!"

"Would you care for some oatmeal?"

"NOT MY FAVORITE!"

And so I eschew all attempts at diplomacy and instead simply rise from the bed and begin cooking whatever seems appropriate. While the breakfast offerings are rarely pleasing to my son, he manages to wolf down three platefuls between protestations. 

As soon as the final crumb enters his maw a new list of demands begins.

Getting dressed:


"I DON'T LIKE THAT SHIRT! IT HAS A SCARY PICTURE ON IT!" (the picture referred to, for the record, is of a happy little toad)

Getting shoes on:


"THESE SHOES ARE WAY TOO SCRATCHY!"
  
TV time:

"I WANT TO WATCH CARS! NOOOOOOOO I MEANT CARS 2!" [insert copious wailing]

Boredom sets in:


"WHERE ARE WE GOING TODAY?"

Literally anywhere I suggest:


"NO!!! I DON'T WANT TO GO THERE!"

I interject trying to ascertain what he might like to do instead only only to receive the teary response:

"I DON'T WANT TO DOOOOOOO!!!!"

Then there is rolling around on the floor accompanied by much gnashing of teeth.



The only upside I can think of is that at least this time I was prepared for the Even More Terrible Threes. I knew better than to believe that the Terrible Twos would magically melt away into some period of lasting calm. I was prepared for the reality that a three-year-old is just a bigger, stronger, and less reasonable two-year-old with a larger vocabulary and better tactical skills.

And now -- so are you.

I also offer you today a silver lining. In my limited one-older-child experience this whole scene starts to smooth out a little once they hit four. I mean, four isn't exactly a champagne picnic with George Clooney in the woods, but it sure as hell beats three -- if only for the simple reason that a four-year-old is far less likely to spend large amounts of time demanding that,

"I DON'T WANT THE CAR TO BE RED, I WANT IT TO BE BLUE!!!!"

As you wait, then, for your child's fourth birthday with blissful anticipation I give you one final word of warning about your three-year-old. 

NO MATTER HOW TEMPTING it may be to attempt to convince your little one that you cannot, in fact, change the color of the family vehicle with your mind, RESIST I TELL YOU! I can tell you with absolutely certainty that there is no happiness for you down any road that begins with the thought, 


"If I can just convince him/her to be reasonable...."



When you are dealing with a three-year-old there is no reason. There is only day-to-day survival.

1 comment:

  1. Why not try punishing him for rudeness rather than trying to appease him?

    ReplyDelete