This is one that I imagine every mama out there will have dealt with at some point.
Lying awake at night asking yourself if your child is psychotic and completely unhinged or if they will grow out of this horrible phase. I have turned to my husband on many occasion and said the words, ‘He’s a complete little b*****d, what if he’s going to grow up like this? Can we unleash this on society?’ drowning myself in wine at 9.40pm when I have finally managed to hiss ‘Go to sleep!!’ for the millionth time and read the 80th Thomas the tank short story … I swear I never used to drink at home on my own before I had kids.
I think whoever coined the phrase ‘terrible twos’ either took a year long trip during their child’s third year or was so traumatised by the experience they felt the need to block it out of memory (this is my intention FYI). Either way, terrible twos is a terrible lie, and Reuben has entered what I have fondly coined ‘terrorist threes’.
We recently had his preschool play, which I was so excited to go and see but I came away and I still don’t think I’ve dealt with it properly, I’m going to need years of intensive therapy. He was so silly, and naughty! He has been singing all of the songs at home and telling me with enthusiasm that he has been practising hard, in the weeks running up to it the preschool teachers told me they felt maybe we had turned that corner because he was really focusing and behaving so well, but as soon as he got in front of the 60-70 parents present he decided it was time to put on his own show. I won’t go into too much detail and he wasn’t the only one to be a little bit demonic (there was a fabulous tug of war going on in one corner between a little girl and her friend’s hair), however shouting out ‘That’s embarrassing’ when the cutest little girl at the school fell over during her solo piece left me wondering where the hell he had learnt that phrase, why the hell he had to choose the right context to shout it out and if people there knew me too well for me to get away with claiming to be his Aunt. Then the best part came when him and another boy were nudging each other and Reuben decide to settle the matter with a good solid thump to the boy’s back… during the only silent moment of the play. Needless to say, the matter was settled, the boy ran off crying and my little terror sat down with a smug smile and an air of that-showed-him.
I attended preschool the next day to be pulled aside to discuss his progress and that he was being a little bit too physical with the other children upon occasion and how we need to try and nip that in the bud. It’s not just at preschool either, he does that same with Toby – purely through excitement. I do think that all that has been going on in our house over the last few months, what with my pregnancy, subsequent miscarriage and all of the sadness that goes hand in hand with that, then this pregnancy where Mummy has been a bit more timid of the playing and climbing than ever before, has had an impact on his behaviour. It’s bound to – he’s a child, but he doesn’t know how to let anyone really know how he has been feeling about that, I can barely articulate it myself, so it comes out like this.
While I think the recent changes in the home have had an impact, Roo has been building up his naughty toddler behaviour since the day he turned 3 and it is like an explosion when he is feeling that way out.
Excluding the physical, the answering back is enough to make you want to find the nearest stress ball and hide in the airing cupboard with it. This is a typical conversation:
‘Reuben, Mummy told you not to do that please, it’s not nice’… response: ‘You’re not nice!’ generally said through gritted teeth. ‘Erm, excuse me mister, do you want to go into time out?’… good deterrent right? Nope, ‘Do you want to go to YOUR time out mummy? I will put you there if you don’t stop being a bad boy!’ Firstly, I still feel adverse to being called a boy, and secondly, what the hell? Did I just get scolded by a three year old?!
So he goes into time out. And gives me fair warning that he is going to scream by informing me that ‘I’m going to scream because I’m very cross with you!!’ to which he follows through and screams. Now on a plus side he’s consistent.
There are those days when he is absolutely wonderful, not a toe out of line, kind, thoughtful and impeccably behaved. Unfortunately, he reserves most of them for his Grandparents!
I’ve talked it over with friends and discussed the concerns at preschool, to which most have laughed and regaled me with tales of their three year olds being asked to leave tumble tots, or even the odd friend who has told me that the age three was the very reason they have a five year gap between their kids! This is both reassuring and makes me feel much less alone… even if I do feel the need to find places to hide around my home more often!
So terrible twos or terrorist threes? What do you think?