The threenager

I’ve never gone along with the whole terrible two’s stage. At the time that my eldest was two, I probably thought that we were in fact going through the much talked about stroppy stage in a child’s life that people (who have moved on from that stage) seem to gleefully refer to. However, in our family and I suspect many many more families, three is most definitely the magic number in terms of temperament. Three brings with it a whole new level of stroppyness and a defiant stance that a two year simply can’t compete with.

My three year old boy, who has now been given the coveted position of ‘middle child’ is currently in the throes of this character defining stage. His two year old self was obviously much smaller and less wilful. I fondly remember my eldest throwing almighty tantrums that could only be stopped if he was left to calm himself down. No voice of reason could ever talk sense when in the midst of a meltdown. He used to just eventually burn out and return to his normal self and then he’d be able to talk about what happened and maybe see why it wasn’t a great idea to kick off in the first place. Ok, maybe sometimes it was effective. They’re clever like that.

Each day contains endless food, tv and bum wiping requests.  Can I have a biscuit? NO. Oh. Can I have some grapes? NO. Stamps feet. Why are you eating that Mummy? BECAUSE I AM. Has perplexed look. Can I have a bite of yours Mummy? NO. Bottom lip emerges. Can I watch Scooby Doo? YES, WHEN I’M FREE. I don’t want to wait until you’re free!  WELL YOU WILL HAVE TO. Defeated, he disappears for maybe ten minutes and the scenario is reset to almost the exact same dialogue. If the demands are not met then I prepare for the mega meltdown. It’s very dramatic, this I can count on.

As I write this now, with a sleeping baby on my lap, my three year old has come into the room for approximately the tenth time since he returned from pre-school asking for food. We go through the entire array of snack food options until I agree on something, or nothing. Nothing is never a good response and the voice of reason falls on deaf ears and the foot stamping ensues complete with manufactured tears as well as further demand for food. He has a memory of a fish when it comes to when he’s last eaten and I am the big bad wolf for depriving him of such luxuries.

The questions and warbling are unrelenting. I predict what his questions will be at various points in the day and the answers are pretty much always the same and my answers need clarifying usually about three times. I’m feeling that change is not something he is expecting at the moment, that would be most confusing and would require much more clarification. He is officially our first ‘why’ child. By some miracle we escaped hearing ‘why’ to everything with his elder brother.

Three year olds are masters at creating a scene, they have no shame you see. They don’t give a stuff. How liberating that must be. I’ve gradually become more immune to the scenes and it makes life much less stressful. It’s all about how you deal with it really.

Last weekend we visited our local retail park where our three year old decided he needed a wee on the way back to the car. Home wasn’t far so I asked him if he could wait (as I know he usually can) and he nodded. Then just as quickly as he’d nodded he’d pulled his trousers down for all to see his bottom. This meant there wasn’t time. Having witnessed him wee in a public place before I knew what to expect and stood with him trying to not let the wee trickle near my shoes or his, only for my eldest to spot him and shout ‘eurgh he’s weeing like a girl!’. Yep, why wee standing up aiming straight ahead (the perks of being a male) when you can crouch down and aim down behind your pants! However, whatever works and creates as little splash back as possible is fine with me as aiming forward usually means everything gets soaked. No car tyre got a wash on this occasion, just a larger than expected stream on the public footpath.

With turning three, I have found that both my boys really found their voices and their vocabulary exploded tenfold and with it came millions of questions.  A three year old also doesn’t like to be kept waiting for answers to their questions and can rarely handle it when the answers are not what they’d hoped to hear. Then the meltdown usually starts until a distraction comes about. A regular day is keeping this little person happy who has a million and one things buzzing around in his head that need fulfilling or answering. There is simply so much to take in and waiting is not an option.

Amongst all this, did I mention that my three year old is also extremely cute, caring and loving? At the moment it’s not quite in equal measures to his stroppy outbursts but it redeems this challenging phase…somewhat. After all it’s just the trials and tribulations of living with a three year old threenager.