It’s hard living with a crazy person. A real emotional roller coaster. They’ll grab things out of your garbage. Really nasty things, which they may try to eat. One minute they’ll tell you they love you. The next they’re screaming they don’t. Another moment you get a sweet kiss, followed almost immediately by a head butt to the face. They are just as likely to color you a pretty picture or graffiti your walls like a vandal. Some times they’ll just poop on your floor, right next to the toilet. And leave it. Why? “Because I did.”
If you have ever lived with a 2-and-a-half to 3-year-old child, you may have endured such abuse.
They used to say beware the “Terrible Twos” but when our sweet baby girl turned 2 she was still an angel. But now as we approach her third birthday, the halo has pretty much disappeared. We see a glimpse of it every now and again but for the most part, it’s just horns.
So without question, a more appropriate “terrible” time period to beware than the “Twos” would be the “Two-and-a-half-to-threes” or the “Twees,” if you are into the brevity thing.
All of the parenting experts, books and websites confirm this.
One I stumbled upon on parenting.com read, “Age 3 is the peak of defiant behavior.”
It goes on to say parents begin to become more controlling because your little ones are testing your boundaries (check), but at the same time they are seeking greater autonomy (check, check), which “makes life a series of battles (ding!ding!ding!ding!).” And their vocabulary is also really starting to develop so they are ready to enter into “high level negotiations.”
Welcome to my world. Battles and negotiations, although I wouldn’t call them “high level,” unless you are saying it is like negotiating with someone who is very high on some sort of phenomenally potent drug. Then yes it is indeed “high” in that regard, but if not, I would call them ludicrous, nonsensical or insane battles and/or negotiations.
She gives us a few warm and fuzzy cuddling moments in the morning right after she wakes up. But soon after that she takes out her imaginary starter pistol and shoots it in the air, as she squeals, “Let the games begin!”
It starts with the morning change of clothes.
“I want to wear dis,” she says with conviction, as she hands you her bathing suit that she has somehow managed to find.
“No sweetheart, you can’t wear a bathing suit to school, and it’s also 20 degrees outside this morning. Let’s put these cool jeans on,” you plead.
“I. DON’T. LIKE. JEANS. I wanna wear dis,” she insists. You grab the bathing suit and throw it across the room, desperately trying to get it out of sight.
She views this as an act of terror on your part and lets you know about it.
And before you can even continue The Great Pants Debate of 2015, you have to bring in the United Nations to help you get the issue of underwear settled.
“Here let’s put your Minnie Mouse panties on,” you say.
“No, no, no, no, I don’t like Minnie,” she says with real tears streaming down her face.
“No, no, you love Minnie. Remember yesterday you insisted on wearing Minnie?”
“I. DON”T. WANT. MINNIE. I want ‘Frozen,”” the tyrant demands.
You search through the drawer and of course there are plenty of other options, Dora, more Minnie, Ariel, Tinkerbell and some other brunette fairy, along with various other explorers, queens, sprites, toy doctors, cats and princesses, but a run of “Frozen” panty love last week has depleted that particular supply. You are about to offer a Hello Kitty replacement when you see one last pair, but it’s her least favorite of the “Frozen” panty line. You know you are screwed, but alas, it’s your only hope, so you go back to the bargaining/changing table, inferior “Frozen” panties in hand.
“Yay! Look Mommy found the panties you wanted,” you say as you try to get them on before she notices them.
But she’s the Inspector General and nothing — and I mean nothing — is getting by her.
“Dos aren’t Frozen,” she says with disdain.
“Yes, they are. See, these are the ones with Elsa and Anna’s silhouettes,” you try to point out, as you silently curse, “Damn you little girl panty manufacturers, make the characters more obvious!! I can’t work with framed profiles of these ice hookers! She doesn’t even know what a silhouette is!”
You realize no amount of reasoning (or lack thereof) is going to appease both sides, so you resort to one of your other tactics: subterfuge, bribery, distraction and/or shaming.
They each work better at different times or in different situations. But the panty/jean debacle was going to require some form of deceit.
My favorite form of said subterfuge is starting the next battle before the current one ends.
This is how it works: right as you start putting the hated Frozen panties on, you say “Mommy made you some cheese grits for breakfast.”
As she is telling you she “don’t want dat,” you slip the putrid panties and deplorable denim on.
By the time she finishes telling you she wants cereal — but not cereal in a bowl, she wants it in a cup — and not a green-colored one because that’s a boy cup, she’s totally dressed.
And guess what sucker, you’re eating breakfast at daycare so you can fight with them! Muhahahahaha! Score one victory for Mommy. Woop! Woop!
Maybe it’s a girl thing. I really don’t remember battling over things like this with my son. But then again, maybe I’m just doing that revisionist history mom thing where your mind glosses over all your memories of the bad and/or unpleasant things from morning sickness to labor and delivery on.
Perhaps this challenging time will be similarly glossed, and I should just enjoy it. After all, the next time I am fighting with her over panties, the battle will probably be much different.
“These are not appropriate for a 16-year-old, young lady!”
Yikes! I can’t think about that right now!
Later that evening after you’ve “negotiated” over the dinner menu and what colored chalice her evening milk will be served in, among countless other things, you sit down for a moment and watch the nightly news. You see all of the atrocities and unspeakable acts going on across the globe and in your own backyard, and as a profound sense of sadness and hopelessness washes over you, your pint-sized dictator crawls up into your lap and kisses your cheek and says, “I lub you, Mommy.”
And you are so grateful for her terrible, healthy, sassy, independent, beautiful, awful, glorious little self. And all is right with the world for that moment, as you hug her tightly.
She sits quietly for a few micro-seconds and then says to you, “I don’t wanna watch dis.”
On that, my love, we can agree.