“What age do you think is harder, 2 or 3?”
I recently had this conversation with someone and my answer was that while 2 had its moments of meltdowns, 2 was by far, hands-down easier. Sure, at 2 I had the joyous experiences of my first taste of toddler meltdowns complete with a little person throwing her whole body down on the floor at my feet sometimes even purposely hitting her head on the carpet for dramatics, but 3….
3 is 2 covered in manipulation and strong will with a little bit of the devil reincarnate mixed in. It’s not just a matter of whining because she can’t put into words what she wants (age 2), it whining because she knows it drives me crazy (age 3). It’s tantruming as hard as she can to see if momma will give in. It’s sticking out the sad lip and curling up into a ball doing her fake cry to get me to feel bad for her. But when it’s all happening because she can’t have M&Ms for breakfast or go barefoot in the store or wear both pairs of her pink shorts at the same time, well…let’s just say it quickly becomes a battle of wills.
Don’t get me wrong, 3 is amazing. She sits and sings at the top of her lungs for 10 minutes straight while making scoops of ice cream out of play doh. She “reads” Goodnight Moon to me from memory complete with the quiet old lady who was whispering hushhhhhhhh. She gives me a kiss and tells me she’s going to work and she’ll miss me very much, then she stands by the closet and moves her hands around pretending to “work”. She freezes every tree she passes by, a la Queen Elsa. Her imagination is an amazing little gift and it’s so fun to watch her mimic life in action as she picks little moments in time to reenact from her perspective.
And at 3 years old, the whining is expected. When I feel her crawling into my bed at 2am once in a while to
sleep sideways and kick me in the back of the head snuggle…expected. When she cries because I can no longer hold up my enormous Popeye forearms that have developed over the last 2 hours from pushing her on the swing at the park and we have to go home for fear of me keeling over and dying in the woodchips…
…expected. She has options and choices in some situations (which shirt she wants to wear today), but in other situations she has an opinion but doesn’t get a say (cheap sprain your ankle type plastic dress up shoes for daycare? No, ma’am). That has to be tough, having someone determine what you can and can’t have a say in. I get it. But that’s childhood. Actually, sometimes that’s adult life, too. And right now it’s all about teaching her that some people, even momma, will say no to you at times. And then when you stick out your pouty lip, get an evil look in your eye and throw a monkey blanket at someone when they say no, you’re pretty much sealing your own fate and making ‘no’ a guarantee.
Her will is strong and her independent spirit is growing. My will is stronger but not demanding or demeaning, patience is key, and I have one rule my dad taught me which I stick to every single day – don’t yell at your kids. My mantra. My unbreakable rule.
When I waved hi to my newest neighbor this morning after shuffling a very slow-moving, ridiculously-procrastinating, yet fully-dressed, teeth-brushed, cheerios-fed, lunch-packed, piggy tails-combed Summer out the door to Nanna’s house only 10 minutes behind schedule, my neighbor said to me, “You know, you’re always smiling. It’s a wonderful thing.” Made me glad to know that my happiness shows.
And the twitch in my left eye doesn’t.
Yes, 3 is harder than 2.