The Sour And Sweet Sides of a Three Year Old

The Sour Side of 3

“Hey M, ok no more My Little Ponies. Let’s go tee tee, take our medicine, and get ready for bed.”

“I don’t like you, Mommy. I want a NEW mommy who is nice to me,” with a scowl.

“Honey, it’s late. Let’s just go to sleep ok? We’ll cuddle in the morning.”

“I can’t go to sleep because of {choose any of these} :: I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I need to tee tee, my blanket is on wrong, my blanket is too blankety, my animals are looking at me, my animals are hungry, where’s kitty, where’s Sven, Olaf is too hot, I’m too tired {really kid?)”. Most of this happens through tears.

“Let’s eat our lunch. Mommy made your favorite!”

“When we finish this what are we doing next, then what then what… THEN WHAT! MOMMY WHAT!”

“Time to get ready for school, baby.”

“I don’t like school. I don’t like my friends. I have no friends. I don’t like boys.” {For the record, I’m kind of ok with the last one.}

“You look so pretty today my love!”

“Don’t look at me, I’m not pretty!” as she turns her face away.

The tears, the half usage of words and half nonsense, the irrational up and down emotions. It took me until halfway into 3 to realize where the threenager thing comes from. Two, y’all… was not this hard. Two was just keeping the message consistent and having people around you back you. I was a bit worn out at two after 2 years of single momming and working full time. Thankfully,  I then met my amazing boyfriend who backed me and made all the difference. Having a 5 year old at the time, he was very familiar with the lay of the land for 2! I was giving inches which quickly became a marathon of miles. Having someone to back you just makes all the difference at 2 – another voice to help guide a little human through the dangers and joys of the world we live in.

But. Three. Three is irrational, it’s hurtful, and it’s unpredictable. And honestly… sometimes just mean. I oftentimes call her my little sour patch kid because she makes me think of those commercials! OH, and trust me just when we think she’s on track and we have a solution, our new method backfires. We have spent birthday parties in tears not wanting to socialize with anyone. We have sat outside of the church service with me fuming at her for not sitting still or bending to my will. Something that is taken as a joke {like a cute pet name} one second quickly turns and feelings are hurt. I was at a loss of how to manage all these swings. I had FINALLY pinned down the consistency thing but that almost seemed to make it worse.

I have written about this before and am a huge advocate of therapists. The constant worry of what I was doing wrong and how to create harmony in our family was starting to wear me down. I was developing anxiety with basic interactions not sure what sort of blow up would happen and how I would handle it. I had to change my strategy and ran my worries by my therapist. Her feeling is my daughter just happens to be a very emotional, empathetic, and a bit of a stubborn child. All great things for us when she’s 20… but at 3, not so much. The new strategy is to work on feelings and understanding what was going through her head. And honestly – to not take it all so personally. This too shall pass!

With that in mind we work on feelings. We work on understanding her worries. We try to stay positive and let her navigate her feelings herself. She has opened up in amazing ways with this in place. We now understand she’s just scared of the dark and needs an extra night light. She gets shuffled between daycare, my work, time with me and time with her dad and everything in between since birth. She NEEDS a plan so she knows what to expect. We can appreciate her knowing the plan gives her some sense of control. With school she just changed to Pre-K and is the youngest in the class so she felt intimidated by the other children.  She is so used to it always being just her and I that large groups and noise scare her. We fight against this with preparing her with the knowledge of who will be there and what will go down. Still many ups and downs occur but it is getting better and easier to diffuse. We strive to kindly yet firmly stand our ground while accepting her feelings and discussing them as they come. Turns out I’m emotional, empathetic and stubborn too so I know this game. And I have to remind myself this is also 3…

The Sweet Side of 3

“Alright honey, mommy loves you. Good night!”

“Mommy, do you know who the most special, beautiful, best girl in the whole wide world is? You mommy and I love you more than anyone in the world.”

“Let’s eat!”

“Mommy we have to say prayers first and say thanks for a wonderful day!”

“How is my little peach cobbler today?”

“Mommy, I think you are just hungry. You always call me a dessert when you are hungry.” {So a sense of humor is there!}

“Sorry, little momma, I spilled your drink.”

“It’s ok, Mommy. Everyone makes mistakes and I still love you!”

So maybe 2 is about us teaching them about the world and all the rules of it to make it a safe and special place. They are getting to know us. And 3 is more about them learning to teach us about who they are in that world and how they see, feel and experience things. We just have to listen… maybe with our hearts more than our ears.

What are your favorite 3 year old moments? And what is going to happen at 4 that I don’t know about?!

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