Monday, February 23, 2009

Good ol' three.

I wish this were a more optimistic post, but my outlook is not all that positive regarding age three. I remember it as being a bloody hellacious year with Jack but I really really REALLY thought I had some major stuff figured out and that this second time around, especially with my sweet, gentle Bruno, it was going to be oh-so different. It's not. It's exactly the same. Three year olds, at least in this family, are contrary as all get out, that's all there is to it.

They don't want to get in the car. They don't want to get out of the car. They want and don't want a whole host of things, any one of which will savage them with angry despair at a moment's notice. They'll tantrum about it for a nice long chunk of time even if it's boiling hot/raining/snowing/hailing/tornado-ing or if you're in a parking lot with cars whizzing by every which way, or your baby is freakin', or you're late to pick the other child up from school, or absolutely any other situation that might cause a more reasonable person to give you a free pass. Oh, and they'll also laugh at you demonically if you do get all wound up about the urgency of any of these situations.

And sometimes they won't eat. And they won't get dressed. And they won't put on their shoes. And sometimes if they get mad, they'll pee their own pants just to get back at you. That's my shameful confession, I don't know if anybody else's kid does that, but both my kids have done that now around this age, and I guess I can mark it on the calendar for dear, sweet little Henny to start doing it in a couple years, too.

And believe me, I know, I definitely know, about mirroring, and listening to feelings, and weathering emotional storms, and reconnecting and playful parenting, and all the stuff that is very good to do. And I do it. And there are times when that handy bag of tricks works wonders, and hardcore 3 does not seem to be one of those times.

I had a session with Amy lately that at least gave me some good new perspective on the situation. She said that a big part of the problem is that it's just not supposed to be like this, these nuclear families. We're supposed to be living in these villages, where three year olds can run out the door and play with a whole bunch of kids any time they want, or get attention from an adult any time they need it. They're not really supposed to be getting in and out of cars, seeing friends only occasionally, and trying to squeeze all the emotional connection and intellectual stimulation they need out of one or two (very exhausted, most likely) people. That reminds me, I need to go back and finish reading The Continuum Concept. It's completely amazing.

So, on Bruno's behalf, that's my message to myself: expand my village, and cut Bruno even more slack. He's just feeling all the rage and frustration that most of us adults probably swallowed a long long time ago, about how unfair the world is. Oh yeah, and cut myself some slack too... it's not actually my fault that we don't live in a village, but I will at least try in my little time here on earth to slant it at least a little back in that direction.

So anyway, that's that. And if any of you are wondering why you haven't seen or heard from me lately, it may very well be because age 3 has laid me low. And age 5 and half isn't all that peachy, either, at least this month.

8 and a half month olds are still aces, however.


Anonymous said...

Oh no...we're coming up on 3 in a few weeks. arrrugh! you're the Patron Saint of Motherly Patience. I'm in for a wild ride. Thanks for the warning.

Kathie Sever said...

continumn concept (however it's spelled) is one of my all time fav-raves. it got me through many a jaw droppingly confusing struggle.

Sharon said...

It appears you and I were/are on parallel planes. Although, this is my first ride on the 3-year-old express. Yikes!
Thank you for posting this...disregard my previous email and eat up all the almost 9 month old goodness you can (I know I am!!!).
Much love to your beautiful family!