Nobody warned me about the dreadful threes!
From as long back as I can remember, in movies, books and conversations, people have always warned or joked about the dreaded “Terrible Twos”. So as Mieke’s 2nd birthday approached I started to gird my loins, as they say. I started strategising- I spent hours of sleepless nights trying to remember any form of parenting advice I had heard over the years in an attempt to gather ammo for the impending war. I role played various scenarios that would require discipline applications. I. Was. Ready!
But the 2’s arrived and went and I still had my same little flower petal as before. Sure, here and there was a little tantrum, but nothing we hadn’t seen before. She still loved kisses from mommy, said please with the most gorgeous lisp and thought her mommy was her “bestie”. Did we win the elusive lotto? Or were we just such dam good parents that we had created the perfect child? I was relieved, elated and proud all in one. Heck, we had this parenting gig sorted!
And then she turned 3! OMG! It was as if the eleventh commandment had been issued. At some point Mieke realised she had fallen behind with this expected milestone, but instead of casually skipping over it she backtracked and decided to make up for lost time.
Her behaviour swings from mood to mood like a metronome. We still have moments of our sweet, angel-face baby decorated with her funny comments and adorable eccentricities. But other times?... Other times are clouded with animal like screaming, floor shaking tantrums, backchatting that could skin the hide off an elephant and a defiance that threatens the very control of my sanity.
True scenario 1: Saying no to riding on the mechanical elephant ride outside of Checkers because I don’t have change on me = Meltdown to the value of 9.2 on the Richter Scale, resulting in me throwing her over my shoulders like a sack of potatoes and carrying her screaming, wriggling body to the car (whilst 7 months pregnant I might add!), WITHOUT my groceries.
True scenario 2: Mieke, please tidy your room. – No!
Mieke, I said tidy your room.- I don’t want to.
Mieke, I’m not asking you I’m telling you, tidy your room.- (Whilst stomping to her
room in a huff) Well you have 2 hands, why don’t you do it?
She’s 3 people! 3! Can you imagine what I’ll be dealing with when she’s a teenager?
I don’t know if anyone else out there is experiencing the ghastly threes as we are, but I pray it passes soon. Hunnie and I are not sure if we need a support group or an intervention at the moment. But then again, just when I think we have reached the end of our rope she will climb onto my lap to cuddle, or place her hand on my cheek and tell me she loves me. The teacher in me needs to keep reminding myself that as a 3 year old my daughter does not have the emotional capacity to process all the demands that life is presently hurdling at her. In truth, children of 2 and 3 years old are irrational, highly emotional, demanding – and completely powerless over their lives. The perfect recipe for a brewing storm. If you ever have the time read through some of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages. According to his theory toddlers experience 2 distinct stages: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, and Initiative vs. Guilt. The Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt Stage is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control. The Initiative vs. Guilt stage sees children trying to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interactions. Throughout his theory Erikson continually emphasises achieving the correct balance in order to develop a child who is secure, confident and capable, as opposed to a child who feels inadequate, doubtful and even guilty.
The reality of our little ones realities is that they are struggling with themselves daily. If we think their displayed emotions are that of a yo-yo can you imagine what is going inside of the heads and hearts. They are leaving that baby element of them behind where everything was decided and done for them and now they are trying to figure out who they are and what they want in life. And we want that to happen! We want our children to figure out who they are. We want them to stand firm in what they believe and stand up for themselves. We want them to be strong, confident and to have a voice. I’m the first one to get frustrated and even offended whenever my "threenager" throws one of her wobbles and I’m sure you also have those “I’m going to throttle you” moments. But remember (Preaching to the choir here, sisters!) they are grappling to find the right balance between fitting in to our hectic lives and expectations whilst trying to ascertain and declare their own needs and wants. And it is our jobs to guide that transition, not shackle it. We need to sustain and channel them through the turbulence to help them get to the other side as undamaged as possible.
Lord, give me patience! And also all you other moms in the same boat as us. Brew a good cuppa and come chill out with me for a bit moms. We can keep each other calm and motivated. If nothing else at least feel better from a good laugh by comparing war stories.
Has your child had any noteworthy wobbles? Share your story with me- let’s help each other feel less alone in the toddler wars.