If you follow my posts, you might remember that my toddler just turned three in June. In the last three years I have heard time and time again that three is a difficult age but I never really paid any attention, after all, every age is difficult in its own way. That said, nothing prepared me for life with a threenager (the beast that three year olds seem to become after their 3rd birthday!).
Part of me feels like every day is a new battle. To be 100% honest, if my son had been this challenging a year ago, I may have reconsidered adding another child to our family. My sweet loving boy seems to have been replaced with a half crazed dinosaur mixed with a used car salesman. Don’t get me wrong, although I might joke on a daily basis about giving my son away on craigslist with free curbside pickup, I still wouldn’t trade him but boy is he exhausting both physically AND mentally.
Our day starts between 5:30 and 6am (at least an hour and a half before his toddler clock turns green). Lucky for me, most days he wakes my husband up first – haha. He usually informs us at this time that he is awake and would like to take off his pullup and put on his “big boy” underwear. We oblige but then generally ask him to please go and play quietly until his clock turns green… he used to lay in his bed but that ship has since sailed. Unfortunately, some days his idea of “quiet play” consists of choosing his loudest most obnoxious toy and turning it on right by my sleeping head… Ok Ok… I get it…. Time to get up. I am NOT a morning person so having an early bird for a kid is really difficult for me. My husband doesn’t really do mornings either so only God knows how we managed to create this monster who thinks that mornings are the best thing ever.
During breakfast (one of the only times that he doesn’t talk our ears off all day) I mentally attempt to prepare myself for the rest of the day while drinking a cup of tea. By this time, my son has usually asked me at least 10 times where I’m taking him for the day. After breakfast we get dressed and get ready for the day’s activity. My son generally insists on picking out his clothes and will throw a fit if you tell him that he can’t wear his favorite shirt. Then we are off and running to whatever we have planned for the day.
My son seems to have perfected the technique of selective listening. I know he hears me because this kid literally misses NOTHING. My husband and I (and even his preschool teachers) don’t seem to be able to do anything without my son noticing. He is highly observant and yet, when it comes to something that we want him to do or ask of him, suddenly he can’t hear us or doesn’t understand. It’s uncanny. I am told that someday this strong-will and independence will be a blessing but right now it’s downright frustrating. In fact, it feels like in many instances that he deliberately will do the opposite of what we ask just because he can. I feel guilt over the amount of time that we spend yelling at him or sending him to time out but nothing else seems to get through to him despite the stack of parenting books and blogs that I have read. I hope I’m not the only one out here dealing with a kid like this. People don’t seem to understand how difficult he really is until they spend a day in my shoes. My own mother (for example) didn’t understand some of our parenting techniques until she watched him for a week while my husband and I went on a trip. When we came back she said that she completely understood and had a new appreciation for what daily life with a threenager is like. She claims that my sister and I were never like this… perhaps boys are different lol.
Future Lawyer Or Used Car Salesman?
Another challenge that we deal with on a daily basis is my sons’ verbal skill. While we are blessed that he is so articulate, and recognize that many are not so lucky, it’s mentally exhausting when every conversation turns into a power struggle or debate. The words “why” and “because” are uttered literally hundreds of times a day in our home. This child can literally argue with you until you give in out of pure exhaustion. His preschool teachers have told us that he even tries to argue his way out of time outs by attempting to justify his actions with long explanations. I sometimes wonder if he has a future as a used car salesman or possibly as a lawyer as he has conned babysitters into letting him do things that we would never allow and can talk his way out of many things. On top of that, he is extremely social and quite literally makes friends everywhere we go. People don’t always recognize me but they sure recognize my son. It’s unbelievable. Future class president? Lord help me!
Thank Goodness for Preschool
When my son started preschool in June, I felt guilty at first for sending him during the summer but within the first few weeks I quickly discovered how much of a blessing preschool really is. Preschool allows him to run off some energy with other kids for a few hours which gives me a break but it also gives me an opportunity to ask the teachers there if his behavior is out of the ordinary. It’s nice to know that many of his frustrating behaviors are age appropriate even though that doesn’t really make it any easier to deal with them. I also appreciate having other adults on board with helping us to encourage our son to make better choices. Sometimes kids listen to other adults more than mom and dad simply because they are new faces. Preschool has been a God send in so many ways and I’m deeply grateful that we found one that fits our needs so well. It’s worth every penny that we pay for him to attend.
Embracing His Independence (and Intelligence)
I’m not a perfect parent. I’m working on becoming a better one. Instead of yelling all day and feeling defeated I’m trying to embrace my son’s independence and celebrate his intelligence. This isn’t always easy to do when he is running circles around our kitchen island but each day is a new chance for us to learn from each other and to make each other better. Luckily I have my husband and my son’s preschool to turn to for help when I start to doubt myself. This job is hard and there is no instruction manual but little by little we will make it. Do you have a threenager at home? Share your struggles and/or tips and tricks for survival in the comments! I look forward to reading them.