Having survived a colicky baby for four months, I thought I could handle anything that came my way. Boy, was I wrong! When my son hit those infamous Terrible Twos, I took them in stride. I smiled through the occasional meltdowns while getting him into his car seat. I joked about how we I named him Mr. Noodle for the way his body would go limp when we were forced to carry him out of a store or restaurant. But no matter how much I tried to smile through the stress, everyone told me that the Terrible Twos were nothing…just wait until he turns three.
I laughed. How could that be possible? Surely those parents only suffered through mild cases of the Terrible Twos. Maybe their children were just late bloomers in the temper tantrum department, not like Griffin who could teach the class on How to Embarrass Your Parents in Public.
Griffin turned three in July of this year, and for the past six months or so my husband and I have been completely frazzled by our son’s behavior. He is the sweetest little boy most of the time, doling out kisses and hugs freely, telling me, “I was missing you, mama” when I pick him up from day care. Then, without much warning, he changes. We know that it’s mostly due to him being tired, but that’s not much consolation when you’re forced to drag a child from Walgreens while he shouts, “Bad mommies go to jail.” Nothing like a little embarrassment as all eyes turn toward me. Thankfully no one has called the police on me.
I joke about it, but it is frustrating, troubling, and honestly hurts our feelings. When our usually sweet little boy turns and tells me he wants me to “go away,” I want to cry…or tell him how sorry he would be if I really did go away, but I know that neither of those is a good response. I just tell him how sorry I am he feels that way.
The major difference between the Twos and the Threes is that my son is so much more verbal. Back then, while he talked some, I felt like I could justify the tantrums because that was one way he could express himself when he couldn’t find the words. But now? He sure knows how to find those words. When he gets put in timeout, he usually tells me that I hurt his feelings, or that he’s mad at me. When I am forced to carry him kicking and screaming from the library (my apologies to anyone who might have witnessed that!), he makes sure I know that he wanted to stay and is angry with me and doesn’t want me to take him home. The other day he even used the word “hate” which completely floored me.
Okay moms…help! How much of this is just the limit-testing of a strong-willed preschooler? Is this payback for laughing at everyone telling me that the Threes were going to be tougher than the Twos? Any advice on how to get through this stage?