Some of you might not know that Three-Years-Old is the portal to the Seventh Circle of Hell.
I’m here to tell you, again, that it is.
I know about Threes’ seven-layer dip of insanity, lack of impulse control, emotional immaturity, irrationality, impatience, illogic, and incontinence because I still have PTSD from my eldest’s year-long bout of The Threes. The day he threw furniture at the closed door that signaled “Mommy Needs A Timeout to Keep from Beating You.” The day he assaulted me, apologized to get me closer, then attacked again. The day he raged because I wouldn’t go out in the rain and drive alone to the store to bring him back mushrooms, a food he didn’t like. The day he peed in the cat box because he didn’t like my rules.
Three. The “at-least-it’s-good-for-a-laugh” antithesis of good times.
I’ve braced myself for Butterbean to turn Three. I’ve girded and steeled and all other architectural metaphor-ed. I’ve prepared.
So when he spun into a tantrum because I dared to say that being grown up means I won’t, in fact, get taller, I tried not to laugh. He screamed for half an hour that I have to get taller right now.
I wish, buddy. But you are not the first to try nonsense tactics. And you will not win. Not only do I not refuse to get taller right now, I refuse to talk about it.
When Butter recently threw himself out of the stroller and writhed and yelled and tried to hit me as I asked how I could help, I dispassionately plopped him back in the stroller and kept walking. And repeated one house later. And another, and another, each time offering to carry him, cuddle him, or let him push the stroller as long as we kept going. When it didn’t work I just kept breathing and tossing his enraged body back into the stroller. Because I know what happens when you negotiate with Three-Year-Olds. All of this blog from 2009 is what happens when you negotiate with Three-Year-Olds.
But a new calm has come over me. I can outlast Three. I have done it before. I can survive earthquake and fire and oncoming traffic that smashes my ride at 106 miles an hour. And graduate school. If I am still standing after all that, I can survive another three-year-old. I’m not alone in my plight, and there are experts whose advice can help.
In fact, my newly crowned Three’s tendency toward batshit insane actually has his seven-year-old brother taking a turn for the avuncular. Battles of wills are being dropped rather than pressed, sharing is increasing, and feelings are being calmly listed more this month than in all of last year. Today Peanut explained to his brother what to do when you’re really mad and draw back to kick someone. “Change your mind,” he said, “and talk about how angry you are instead.”
Maybe there’s an upside to Three. Or an upside to Seven. Or to the synergy between them.
I hope so. We could really use an upside or two or Three.