I know this is going to sound completely horrible, and I know we shouldn’t wish our lives away — I know that one day, I am going to miss this — but, can we talk about three-year-olds for a second? Oh. My. Gosh!
The Emotional Rollercoaster of the Three-Year-Old
Right now, my son is sleeping peacefully beside me. He looks like an angel…for now. But, at any moment, he will wake-up, and who knows what the day will bring.
It could look like this:
He could wake up and get ready without a fight. We could enjoy a day full of laughter and not arguing. When I ask him to do something, he could respond with, “Okay, Mommy!” and complete the task right away. Then, we could enjoy a peaceful night, which includes a story until he falls soundly asleep.
Or, it could look like this:
I wake him up in enough time to get ready for school, yet we still end up late because of the 500 tantrums that will take place from wake-up to leaving the house. Every little thing is a fight: getting dressed, eating breakfast, getting his jacket on…EVERYTHING.
However, by the time I pick him up from school, he is an angel again. Telling me he loves me, how great of a day he had, etc. But then, an hour or two later, the “other” side comes out. Once again, meltdowns with nothing fixing them. Everything, yet again, is a battle. “Where did this kid come from?” I ask myself. “He was fine just an hour ago?”
The Anxiety of It All
It probably doesn’t help that I suffer from anxiety. With the anxiety that comes with trying to deal with a three-year-old, I need to double-up on my medication or wine. (Just kidding — maybe.)
I should have been better prepared. I heard the rumors. I heard the talks about the “Terrible 3s” or “The Threenager.” I knew there had to be a reason for those nicknames. However, I think it was again one of those moments where I naively said to myself, “My child won’t be like that.” Ha! That was mistake #1 — a common mistake we all make. “Our child will never do that.” Well, yes, they will.
When the terrible 3s hit, there are three things you can expect:
1. A Meltdown Can Happen at ANY Time
I am not just talking about a few tears or an eye roll. Oh, no. That would be considered a GOOD day! In this case, I am mean a “someone killed your dog” meltdown. You want to know the best part? It is over something insignificant.
This meltdown can happen when you give the wrong color cup, a granola bar accidentally breaks in half, or a toy was moved to the wrong place. Oh, yes, be careful what toys you touch. You might be about to trip over a toy car, but that toy car was there for a reason, according to your three-year-old.
2. “I Can Do It Myself” Is Only When THEY Want to Do It Themselves
Basically, if you are running late and in a hurry, that is when your three-year-old is going to want to do things for himself or herself. It won’t be when you have all the time in the world that your child wants to put his or her own shoes on or zip up a jacket. Oh, no; that would be too easy. But, when you are about to pull your own hair out because you need to be somewhere 10 minutes ago, that is when your child will want to do things for himself or herself.
On the other hand, when your back is hurting and you are beyond exhausted, your three-year-old will no longer be able to do things for himself or herself. At this point, your threenager is going to need you to do EVERYTHING for them. They will need you to put on their shoes, zip their jackets, get their drinks, etc. Everything that they could do “themselves” they no longer can when you are exhausted.
3. They Have Strong Opinions
You thought politicians were tough? Ha! Politicians don’t have anything on a three-year-old. When your child discovers a favorite outfit, you can bet your child will want to wear that outfit EVERY day. You will beg. You will plead. You will even bribe your child. But, oh no; your child will be wearing that outfit for the entire week. I believe this is when parents begin to learn about the importance of “choosing your battles.”
The strong opinion also goes for when you are trying to play with them. Believe it or not, to your three-year-old, there is a right and a wrong way to play. And, if you are doing it wrong, they will tell you!