My three-year old very seriously told me this morning that he essentially could live on his own with his two-year old brother, if I’d only just let him.
I woke up to a button nose covered in frosting whispering in my ear “We just ate alllllll of the cupcakes except for one.” He was quite impressed with himself and said it as if he was boasting. “Did you hear what he just said??” I whined to my husband as I sheepishly rolled over and got out of bed. Once in the kitchen, I realized that my button nosed child had not been lying. He and his two-year old brother had, in fact eaten all of the cupcakes I had pushed back way on the counter, covered up inside a plastic grocery bag. A chair was pushed up against the kitchen counter and before my eyes laid the practically empty cupcake container and a frosting covered pair of kitchen shears and chopped up Valentine’s Day construction paper hearts.
I was pissed. I am not a “health nut” by any means, but I make a point of not having any cookies, or anything too sugar filled around my house for the kids to snack on. I offer fruit, cheese or crackers as snacks for the most part. Do you want to know the truth? Yes, I care about their health, their teeth and their eating habits; but mainly, it is for my own sanity. They are already maniacs sober… add some sugar to the mix and I have two hyped up Tasmanian Devils. It had been Valentine’s Day so when I saw the mini cupcakes at the grocery store earlier in the week, I decided to spoil them and put one in their lunchbox a treat. BAD DECISION.
I didn’t even yell. We all sat down and had an impromptu family meeting. I explained that they had broken a few rules:
- They knew those cupcakes were off-limits. I had told them that the evening prior.
- They knew that they aren’t allowed to reach up onto the kitchen counters; the stove could be on, there could be knives out, or something could fall on them.
- They knew they are absolutely not allowed to use “grown-up” scissors.
I winced as I reminded them that Mommy & Daddy were IN CHARGE, not them. I always feel ridiculous saying this. Margaret Thatcher said “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” We obviously weren’t.
Once I was done lecturing, my three-year old piped up and very seriously took the stage:
“I have a problem solving solution. If you buy us some kid scissors, we wouldn’t have to use the grown up ones” (OK kid, good point). “Annnnnd if you buy us a kitchen, we could put it in my room and then we don’t have to eat all your food because we would have our own.” (Ummmm, OK….) He continued… “AND you can buy the kitchen on a day we don’t have school so we can pick it out. AND if you buy us a house, we can put the house in my room, put the kitchen in the house and use our kid scissors in there.” His little brother had little to add but nodded his head enthusiastically agreeing. My husband and I just looked at each other trying not to laugh. Essentially, if we bought them all this stuff, they could just live on their own, in his room, without our help and the could eat their own cupcakes (presumably that we buy them, because we bought the kitchen and the house, right?) anytime they wanted and cut up paper all night with their mini scissors, in the little house that they live in. All I could think of was Shit, this parenting thing is hard.
This is Hard.
That’s what I was thinking during labor. When my babies were in the NICU. When I was unsuccessfully trying to breastfeed. When I had a colicky baby who screamed all day. When I was barely surviving on 3 hours of sleep during those newborn weeks and then living on 2-4 hours of sleep back at work full-time. When my babies became mobile and suddenly the house appeared to be filled with danger at every turn. When my social life dwindled down to nothing because I was too tired to do anything and too many people at home needed me. While I sat through toddler speech therapy, while I waited for my baby to come out of surgery, read fifteen bedtime stories in a row and when I kissed each boo boo; I thought This Is Hard. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on this parenting thing, each child gets a little bit older, and the next stage presents me with a different challenge.
As soon as that fat little bundle of baby squish pops out, it is numero uno. You want to take a nap? Nope, baby is hungry again. You’d like to shower alone? Nope, your cling on two-year old needs to be in there with you, or he’s going to die. They each have their own little personality, which surprisingly starts to show up pretty early on. Intrinsically, they run the show.
I feel like right now at this stage of the game, I am simultaneously running a marathon combined with some sort of insane obstacle course; all while trying to dodge someone who has a BB gun and spectacular aim.
Our family is composed of a concoction of what I can only describe as bonkers right now. Jerry Seinfeld hit the nail on the head when he said “Having a two-year old is like having a blender without a lid”. Throw in a Threenager, which, in case you didn’t know is described as “A person of the age of 3, who possesses the attitude, demeanor and general angst of a teenager”, add two tired parents who work full-time and you get US… the typical American family.
My two are so close in age and now almost the same height that there is not one time that I’m asked if they are twins when I take them out in public together. I always smile and say “No, but Almost Irish Twins” At thirteen months apart, it’s always been difficult to handle them because one was always a baby while the other one toddled around; both with different needs. Now, we’ve hit a distinct point where it’s a whole different ball game. Similar in size, they can swap clothes, punches and hugs. They egg each other on and it’s become us vs. them. Emotions run high in the house. In the course of 10 minutes, there could be screaming, laughing, crying, hugs, hitting, time outs, smiles and of course, lots of farts (which are hilarrrrrrrrious).
Let me give you a quick breakdown:
Symptoms of The Terrible Twos Include:
- A lot of “I do it myself!” To the point where they will actually undo what was just done by you so they can do it themselves. “Their way” is always painfully slow and repetitive. A tremendous amount of patience is required by the parent. (Pass the wine, please).
- Potty training that doesn’t always go the way you want it to. Tonight, my two-year old refused to wear anything but underwear, but also refused to use the toilet. To the point of fighting me when I brought him into the bathroom, or gave up and tried to just put a diaper on him. (He kept the underwear on and I’ve got a load of laundry going right now if you are wondering how that turned out)
- Screaming “You’re blocking the TV!” as you are literally in the middle of picking up their toys from the floor.
- Occasional coloring on the wall, table and anything that isn’t paper.
- Complete meltdowns over the most minute things. Things to meltdown about may include but are not subject to “He put his socks on before I did!”, “There is a commercial on!”, “He took that piece of food I threw on the floor 10 minutes ago and said I didn’t want!”
How to know when you have a Threenager:
- They honestly think they are smarter than you are.
- They’re always one step ahead of you. They are cunning, conniving and smart.
- They remember something you said four months ago and try to hold you to it.
- They sulk when they don’t get their way,need their “alone time”, and demand their “privacy”.
- They are expert negotiators.
- They have enough verbal capacity to try to convince you to do something for them, using logic. It’s like being in a preschool court room everyday.
- They know how to use an iphone or ipad better than the average adult.
The unique combination of having both personalities in the house at the same time has proven harder than all of the stages that has come before this. The sleepless nights, the crying babies, the breastfeeding; and yet, I intrinsically know that it is only going to get more difficult from here. For the time being, I’m going to try to focus on the positive- the times they are getting along and the special and unbreakable bond they are creating with each other. My husband and I will survive… we’re just going to have to make sure our liquor cabinet is stocked to be able to get through it all.