I don’t know why or who ever coined the “terrible twos” but I would venture to guess their child was 2 and they used this phrase prematurely. The twos are easy. The twos are a walk in a magical park where fawns frolic across your path and fairies giggle with one another in the tree tops above you. Where mythical centaurs gallup beside you and play music on their harps. Where… ok you get it…
The threes, however, are a plummet into the fiery pits of hell where there is no calm, no solace, all tears and irrational rage that cannot be circumvented. It’s where your child wakes up crying for reasons they cannot even explain if they wanted to because their vocabulary has not caught up to their grandiose emotions.
I could argue she invented this stage in a previous life and passed it down to babies far and wide and laughed and laughed from her baby throne over the centuries. We have learned that her happy moods are fleeting, limited, something you treat with a gentility and a caution that you never thought humanly possible, because once it happens… the moment a tissue tears without her permission or a commercial comes on when she was not expecting it or you – God forbid – instruct her not to walk into the middle of the road where there are moving cars… that’s it. You’re done and if you aren’t prepared, if your guard is not up, you will lose. You already lost, but you’ll lose harder.
I can only describe the aftermath as a bad hangover.
Now, to be fair to the tiny demonic princess, she can be the sweetest little chubby cuddle bug in the world. Her smile is contagious and she tells me “I love you sooooo much” no less than 7500 times a day… when she’s good she’s great… but when she’s bad… grab your holy water and sacrificial lamb and get to work!
I knew it was coming.
There is no way a baby that content, that happy who napped all day and slept all night and was that adorable could continue on through her tiny life that pleasant. I can’t even remember when it all changed, but it did, hard and fast and we had no time to recover because that little ball of tulle and sass is coming for you – ready or NOT!
BUT – and I wanted to write this to make this point:
She does chores with her sister, she (for the most part) obeys the rules and shares relatively well for a kid her age. Much of this is part of the lovely phase, however short or long, is something every parent deals with but, much of this is just her personality. Her big, take-no-prisoners-I-can-do-it-myself-don’t-tell-me-what-to-do personality.
I know it well because it was me. Both of our children got some of the best and some of the worst qualities from us. Cori has her dad’s curious mind and my bleeding heart. Diem got both of our stubborn streak and painful shyness… which comes out as a total a-hole. And yes, it’s totally warranted to say that. If you’ve met an adult that acted that way, you’d say they were an asshole… but since it’s a child we have “rules” against admitting they, too, can be assholes. But they can, they will and they’ll do it way better than any adult you’ve ever met.
What’s interesting is, I worry more about Cori and her people pleasing nature. She is so kind and so inclusive that I have to be conscious of reminding her that it’s OK to stand up for herself and to say “No”. While with Diem – we are always doing the opposite. I am actually having to tell my 3-year-old that she’s being rude. It’s so strange to have two children, made from the same parents, come out so wholly and completely different. I want to be fair to them both and appreciate their unique personalities. But I cringe when a family member asks for a hug and she screams NO! and runs the other way. It’s not cute, I know, it’s no longer funny to me and her dad… we are working on it. However, she may never be the hugger type, so why do I feel bad? Why am I embarrassed that my child has a bubble, what she considers boundaries? Why do I feel the need to discipline her for doing what most of us WANT to do but are trained to be polite for the sake and comfort of someone else’s feelings?
SO – We are teaching her polite ways to refuse hugs, kisses and general conversation. Aaaannnnddd we walk in any situation with a spoken warning label. If you want a kid that makes you feel good about yourself, we offer you Cori. If you prefer cynicism and a distaste for just about anything… we give you Diem. For the most part – she has her circle of trust and on the rare occasion she doesn’t feel the need to remind you of her aforementioned boundaries, you’ll get what we get in the privacy of our home. That sweet, loving, giggle goofball that I literally wake up longing to scoop up and squeeze.
It’s a delicate area to navigate and we are finding a happy medium where she can preserve her personal space while she walks that tightrope of threedom, one cute little sassy foot at a time.
Until we find that happy balance… just tell her her tutu is pretty, don’t expect much out of her – she’s not for the faint of heart. If you can’t take her at her worst, we’ll see ya when she’s 4 and hopefully grows the chip that is a taaaad bit warmer.