Friday, May 8, 2009
Terrible Twos? Are you kidding me?
I am absolutely convinced that the person who invented the term "Terrible Two's" just hadn't experienced age three yet, or they might have called it something completely different, like "The year when your child starts to get really independent and sometimes throws fits but isn't anywhere near as bad as he's going to get when he's three and a lot more verbal and much better at finding deliberate ways to push your buttons!" It's a long name, I know. Not nearly as easy to say as "Terrible Two's", but it's a lot more accurate. Seriously. I have yet to meet a fellow Mom who has a three-year-old (or who has been through the trials of having a three-year-old) and thinks that age two was especially challenging. I'm not saying that it doesn't feel challenging when you're in it. After all, every stage has it's own unique challenges, frustrations, and joys, right? (Oh yes, it wasn't that long ago that I remember pacing the living room with a screaming, absolutely inconsolable, newborn baby, thinking "Why did I do this to myself? What was I thinking? I can't be a Mom! I stink at this! I must be crazy!".....) But, trust me, age three can be bad. Really, really bad. I think it's because during the third year, kids genuinely learn how to manipulate. Before that time, they're just starting to figure things out through trial and error: "Hmmmm......if I throw a huge, screaming tantrum at home, I sometimes get what I want."OR: "Hmmmmm......when I poke my brother in the eye, he cries really loud. Fun!" That's your typical two-year-old, right? Well, three-year-olds take it to a whole new level: "When I throw a huge, screaming tantrum at home, I don't usually get what I want. BUT, if I throw a huge, screaming tantrum in the grocery store when Mommy's waiting to pay for the groceries and there are tons of people in line behind us -- I might just get what I want." Oh, yes. They are learning and learning fast. I think the hardest part about this age is that kids learn that words can hurt others, and they use it to their advantage. Here's my favorite: "I don't love you anymore." Ouch! Or this one that happens frequently in my house when a certain three-year-old doesn't get what he wants: "I love Daddy more than you." Double ouch! And it's very hard not to take it personally. Case in point....I have a couple of girlfriends over for somewhat regular playdates. Last week, one of my friends -- a truly lovely Mom with a three-year-old boy, came in, put down her stuff, steered her son towards the playroom, and then immediately dissolved into tears. She looked at us through big, sad eyes, and sobbed, "I don't even LIKE my son right now. I love him, but I can hardly stand him most of the time!" My other girlfriend jumped in immediately with, "Oh, I know, I know. Age three is the worst stage of all. They can be so mean. Just hang in there." (Thankfully, her boys made it through this stage and are now lovely young lads, most of the time. I remind myself of that fact every single day!) We then began to share war stories from age three. (The age I now refer to as "The Thunderous Threes" because of how tempestuous and unpredictable it is.) I am convinced, after talking, laughing, and crying with these wonderful, exhausted, capable Moms, that the key to surviving this age is sharing stories, leaning on your friends, and reminding yourself that, "This too shall pass." And, finally, while there's nothing so painful and frustrating as hearing your beloved little one shout "I HATE YOU!" at the top of his lungs in the middle of Fred Meyer because you dared to say "No, honey, you can't have a matchbox car", there's also nothing more lovely and joyful than when that same little three-year-old throws his arms around your neck and says, "I love you more than anybody else in the whole world."
Posted by Beth