Terrible Twos and the Terrifying Threes

I’ve heard that the third year of a child’s life is possibly the worst year. For the parents, for the teachers, for the child….for everyone involved. I always thought to myself “nothing could be worse than the Terrible Twos!” And once Baby Bee & I got to the Terrible Twos, I was certain nothing could be worse than the Twos. But y’all, I was wrong. I was so, so, so very wrong. The closer we get to the third year of my little “learning adventure” I like to call my son’s life, the closer I am certain that we will not survive to see his fourth birthday. We will just explode into a cloud of negative energy & temper tantrums. And I’m not even exaggerating.

Baby Bee is two months away from turning three. I’m freaking out because A) there is no way he’s that old already! B) I full heartedly believe in the Terrifying Threes and I am, indeed, terrified and C) three years of life officially moves him out of “toddler” status and into “preschooler” status and I am SO NOT READY FOR THAT!!!! He’s a very smart boy and gets smarter every day. Literally. He’s also very stubborn, and gets more stubborn every day. Combine the emotional wreck of a two year old and the increasing intelligence of a three year old and WA-BAM we are in a hot mess of arguing, questioning authority, pushing boundaries, separation anxiety, insecurities, and endless energy. I love my child to infinity and will kill anybody who begs to differ. However. However. I am not entirely certain that I will make it out of this next year with my sanity, dignity or confidence in tact. This child challenges me every second of every day in every possible way. Half the time he’s not even being “naughty” he’s just running his cute little mouth non-stop, asking a million point five questions AT ONCE and beginning and/or ending every single sentence with “mommy.” Or “whhhyyyyyy?” Or (my particular favorite) “heh?” <<this is like “huh” but nasally and high pitched. It was cute at first. Now it makes my eye twitch.

I keep trying to remind myself that EVERY child goes through this stage, and like all things it will pass and I’ll look back on it when he’s a teenager, and absolutely hates my guts, and miss these days. And then I’ll tell embarrassing stories at his wedding. In a few years I’ll reminisce with other mommy friends about how we barely made it out of these years alive. But for right now, this VERY PARTICULAR MOMENT, none of it is amusing and I really just want to run away to the beach. With unlimited margaritas and a napping hammock. Ok, some of it is amusing. He really is a funny boy. (he “found” kitty’s belly button apparently yesterday–which was probably just a nipple. And anytime he gets the tiniest owie, I need to call an ambulance for him) But the silly, tender moments get lost in the daily grind of answering the same gosh darn (see what I did there?! I’m cleaning up my act!) question for the thousandth time in an hour and running to the toilet ten times in as many minutes because he “has to potty”, only to stand there and watch him play with his feet instead of focusing on peeing. (This potty training thing is a bitch and I’m so over it…but alas he is no where close to getting the concept.)

I work at the same daycare he attends, which is nice and awful all at once. I can hear him scream bloody murder when I drop him off, but then I can peek in his classroom and see how great he’s listening. He is a model student and all his teachers love him, but as soon as I step in to give a teacher a break or to visit him on mine, he instantly switches on the whining-throw-down-brat stage. It’s frustrating to have his teachers get the best side of him, the side that I strive to create, and then I go home with a screaming wreck of a child and do nothing but battle him until he passes out cold at ten o’clock at night. Yes, I said ten. I was beginning to think he just straight up hates me, or that I’m a terrible f—ing parent, but last Monday at dinner he gave me a huge hug and said “I miss you!” I was shocked and said “You did!? Baby I missed you too! But why are you so mean to Mommy after school if you missed me?” He unhooked his arms from around my neck, looked away and said quietly “I mad.” I swear to God, I heard my heart crack down the middle right there in the restaurant. “Are you mad that Mommy left you in your classroom?” “Yes.” I tried to explain that I have to work with the big kids and I come see/talk to him as much as I can. By then he was distracted by chicken strips and I thought our conversation was done. Then, halfway through dinner he looks over the table at me and says “I still mad at you.” “I’m sorry, baby. Are you still mad about school?” “Yes. I cried.” And then I almost cried. I was shocked, and somewhat relieved, that he could so clearly tell me WHAT he was feeling, and WHY. That’s a HUGE step for him. I think this new skill will help figure out the root of his tantrums and possibly, how to STOP them before they start. Ha. In a perfect world, right?

The past couple of days have been relatively calm waters compared to the storm that we’ve been stuck in the past few months. Every now and then we’ll get a glimpse at the polite, well-behaved, super smart, hilarious boy Baby Bee is growing up to be. But most of the time, there is just a whirling dervish of pent up energy and misplaced anger banging around the apartment. It’s hard to keep calm and supportive and answer all of the questions without getting a bite to my voice, but thank God now I have back up. C is a world class champion of calming me down and stepping in to intervene when he sees I’m about to come undone. Aside from the few months I lived with my parents when BB was a newborn, I’ve never really had help with raising him. I knew from the get go, though, that I would be flying solo through it all, so I had braced myself for it. All of the decision making, sleepless nights, milestone celebrating, and the constant worrying of parenting fell solely on my shoulders. But now…now I have someone willing and able to carry some of the load. It’s an adjustment for me (the Control Freak) to loosen the reins and give one to another person, but it’s such a relief to be able to tap out when I just cant take it anymore and tag C into the fight. Then when we have survived the day, he’s there with a hug, a few ideas and a big glass of wine. I think we’re still in the learning period of this joint parenting thing, since neither of us have done it before. But that man is a natural father and BB utterly adores him…and vice versa. Watching C with Baby Bee, it’s evident to me that biology has nothing to do with what makes a parent. He’s done more for my son in a few short months than The Drone could ever pretend to do. He’s the calm, strong presence to compensate for my basket-case self. C is there to back me up when Baby Bee doesn’t feel like listening to Mommy, and he’s a new perspective when I’m at a loss on what to try next. He all but single-handedly got Baby Bee, the Great Sleepless Wonder, to SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!! We are going on night five IN A ROW of BB putting himself to sleep (although it does take him an hour or more to actually fall asleep, he’s no longer screaming or whining, just laying there quietly) AND staying asleep. If he does wake up, he puts himself right back to sleep without me or C having to get up. It’s done wonders for EVERYONE’S mood, let me tell ya! One thing is certain, I’ve been given this man at the perfect time. I could not imagine heading in to the Terrifying Threes alone. *shudder*

 

God Bless the Broken Road, That Led Me Straight to You.”