Parenting

Oh, How We All Love Age Three!

We’ve all commiserated before about how the “Terrible Twos” seem to be an illusion compared to the “Want To Punch Myself In the Face Threes.” Nikki’s age 2 was a baby penguin compared to her at age 3. Wes seems to be following the same pattern lately. His variation of this wonderful phase is to suddenly start doing things he KNOWS are wrong. Like playing with rolls of toilet paper creating the world’s softest disaster zone. OR CLIMBING ON GLASS TABLES. He’s been blatantly breaking rules that he’s been obeying for years. And it’s making me insane.

This week he colored on the floor at school during naptime. How he ended up with a crayon at naptime, I can only imagine. I guess it involved sneaking it into a pocket after centers to be used at a later…more evil time. Either way, I had to have a long, nagging talk with him about this thing he did that he KNEW WAS WRONG.

I told him I wanted him to apologize to his teacher when he got to school Tuesday morning. I told him he needed to never do that again because he is old enough to know better. I did the whole, “If you want big boy privileges like watching Power Rangers and taking the car out with your friends…then you have to act like a big boy by following the rules you already know.” And then we hugged and cuddled a bit.

Donnie called me yesterday after drop-off and said, “I am so proud of Wesley!” Considering most of our conversations lately about Wes have revolved around deciding who is going to clean up the mess his actions left behind, this was a nice surprise. Turns out? Wes walked into his classroom, without a reminder from Donnie, and went directly to his teacher and apologized for coloring on the floor. So, not only did he remember what I asked him to do, but he actually did it without prompting.

So…age 3 can be summed up like this: Your child will put you one step towards WE ARE NEVER HAVING ANY MORE CHILDREN and then turn around and do something that makes you say, “MORE! I want more perfect little angels!” Of course, you don’t find yourself lingering there long before you put on your shoes on, only to slice your foot on the Captain American figurine crammed inside…but it’s still enough of a relief to keep you from locking them up in the dog crate for a year.

11 thoughts on “Oh, How We All Love Age Three!”

  1. My twins just turned three, and I totally know what you mean. They suddenly can play (quietly!) together with blocks or dinos or whatever. For 30-40 minutes! It’s amazing. And then in a split second, it devolves into screaming, pushing, throwing etc. It’s a lot like when they were small and you were never sure just how long they would nap, so you were afraid to get involved with something. Except now, if I’m not on them in a second my living room turns into World War III.

  2. Stop. My kid is 2.5, and you’re totally scaring me! Seriously, I don’t see how it could get worse. He’s pretty much a monster 50-75% of the time (at least this week. time change and all, you know.) If that percentage goes higher, I may very well invest in a cage-like device. Maybe outside, where I can’t hear him. I could run some heating and cooling out there, perhaps…

    When you say worse, do you mean worse in a different way than age 2? Because if my kid has more tantrums at 3 than at 2, he’s just never ever going to stop crying. And, I’ll need to buy him some protective padding for his cage, so he doesn’t hurt himself.

    (Kidding about the cage. Don’t call CPS. I love that awful kid and vow to let him continue to live with me.)

  3. We’re starting to see these signs with Evi at 2.5. She, who was once literally the perfect kid, is now pushing limits, blatantly disobeying, arguing, hitting, kicking, spitting… She doesn’t do it all the time or even most of the time, but she is most certainly trying to test boundaries. The discussions and/or bargaining that used to work are totally useless too. I’m floundering a lot in terms of how to handle her right now, especially now that she’s suddenly home with me three days a week again after being in school full time since January.

  4. Three. Yeah. That’s it, all right. I’d recognize its evil face anywhere. I raise my adult beverage of choice in solidarity.

  5. You see, as the mother of a soon-to-be three year old, I’m bracing myself for what I’ve experienced three year olds to be: upgraded 2 year olds, with more muscle, lung power, and God-help-us tantrums.

    But Wes gives me hope. I’ll loosen the straps on the restraint jacket that I may or may not be kidding about.

  6. I must have blocked this stage from memory. Two was delightful discovery (and don’t swear in front of the children). Three I found wonderful as well. It was fearless four that got me. Only with my boys though. They became inventive with bravery but were not quite able to reason consequences. Jumping bicycles off of the porch with a 3-foot drop and such. Now at ages 29 and 31 they long ago learned the importance of protective gear!
    The girl never showed any desire to test those limits.
    Good luck to you all!

  7. Age 2 wasn’t so bad with either of my daughters, although the older one always was a live wire (meaning she was into everything). Ages 3-5, however, were horrible! The older one became defiant, testing me almost constantly. She was extremely focused and persistent, which I had to keep telling myself would be useful traits for her [much] later on. During kindergarten, she’d have a full scale meltdown before she made it inside from the bus because I’d said she couldn’t have candy or cookies for her snack–only cheese, crackers, or similar awful stuff (because sweets really wound her up at that age). In 1st grade, something changed and my little devil became somewhat easier to handle. My younger daughter, however, was just hitting the terrible 3s . . .

    So when your 2- to 5-year-old is having an all-out tantrum or being willfully disobedient, try to remember that he/she isn’t the only one. Mentally repeating “this, too, shall pass” can also be helpful in many situations. 😉 Sometimes, especially with my younger daughter, I found that tantrums resulted from one area of the child’s development lagging behind other areas. It’s frustrating for everyone when a child can’t make himself understood.

    Both my daughters, now 16 and 19, have always been excellent students. Homework was/is done without any reminders, nagging, or supervision. When they needed help, they asked. Although they’ve challenged me at home and exhibited typical teen behaviors, they’ve never been in trouble or given me reason not to trust them. Teachers, other parents, etc., have praised the kids so much that I could hardly believe they were talking about MY brats!

    One of these days, you’ll look back and laugh.

  8. I just don’t know what’s wrong with all your children. Mine just breezed through two and three. In fact, there were only really two tantrums ever. Just two. Really. Yeah.

    Which is to say, enjoy your three-year-olds. In forty years, you will honestly have forgotten all that petulant lying down and wailing because they can’t find their orange crayon (which they probably flushed down the toilet themselves only 30 minutes earlier). And the stubborn refusal to put on shoes even though it’s freezing outside and you have to leave the house right now or be late for something important.

    I honestly only remember those two tantrums, even though I know there must have been many, many more. And I have very little recollection of the suffering and disobeying that most surely occurred on a regular basis. I think that’s Mother Nature’s little gift to all us other mothers — complete obliteration of memory of the things that drove you crazy and made you feel like you should be doing better when your children were young.

    Then you get a grandchild, and every time that wonderful little toddler spends an entire morning weeping over the lack of his favorite cereal, or tosses his toy across the room because you asked if you could help him with something, you get this flashback…

  9. Three was a piece of cake compared to four. Gah! Maybe my daughter is a late bloomer, but the second half of three and into four has been a pain in the arse! Hope you (and Wes) make it through!

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