There is a major lie that I would like to dispel right now. Listen to me loud and clear, there is no such thing as the terrible two’s. You may think this is going to go the way of, “all children are angels and no age should be referred to as terrible.” No. That is not how this is going to go. I want to tell you the truth. There is no such thing as the terrible two’s because in reality it is pure and simple the terrible three’s.
With my first child I swallowed hard on that 2nd birthday and waited. But the rough spot never came that year. Whew. I have the best kid ever I thought and moved on into a land where unicorns danced with flowers in their hair. No one warned me about the 3rd birthday. No one.
The second child came and somehow we survived the first year having two children so close together. Again I braced myself for the 2nd birthday and knew we could muster through one more year and then we would be scott free! Back to the land of dancing unicorns with flowers in their hair who also cleaned my house for free each night after I went to bed. Then the third year came. This three year old cried louder and uglier than any child I’ve ever heard before. Her cry is going to cripple her first boyfriend that tries to break up with her, just you wait and see. And yet we chose to have a third child.
Now the third child is three. This time I knew. The 2nd year of life is not terrible, it’s breathing room before the storm.
The first year is the year of no sleep. Even after the child is sleeping through the night, you still stay up half the night just watching them sleep. It’s the year of constant baby liquids covering your shirt and pants but you love it all because it’s theirs. In this year you’ll discover that you can drive to the grocery store with only one eye open, that pacifiers will never stay sterilized and that frumpy chic is your new normal. It’s ok. You love them.
The second year is even better. They are still drop dead adorable, even more so actually. They are discovering how to make their stuffed animals all play together and finding out how much fun it is to run and jump. They push their little tiny bodies and lungs to the limits but it is just so cute. Your world revolves around this cute little person and being away from them is heartbreaking. Occasionally there’s a “no” or an “I don’t want to,” but you’re about to find out that this is nothing but icing on the cake. A few no’s is nothing when you’re welcoming in the third year.
Let’s all have a moment of silence.
The third year. Wow their lungs are loud. It’s no longer a “no, I don’t want to!”, it’s a kicking screaming, arms crossing, lips pouting scream at the top of their lungs, “NO MAMA! I DON’T WANT TO!!!” and it’s always in a very public place. Then they find out that their arms work to throw things and their feet work to kick things, sometimes innocent siblings (sometimes guilty ones) and you have entered the threes!! Congratulations!
They have found their independence and they will use it in all the most inappropriate times. Church? yes. The grocery store? yes. Extremely quiet doctors offices? Of course!
Don’t try to turn off their tv show, call their favorite stuffed animal by the wrong name or feed them anything outside of the cheetos and oreos diet, just shelter in place! Protect yourself people because your little one is three.
So is there hope? Yes. There’s always hope. Stick to your guns and assert your place as their parent and it’ll be over before you’re researching how to regrow your hair.
My three year old’s best friend might be her lungs but mine is time out. Eat this lunch that you are screaming about or go to time out. Walk happily into church to pick up your sisters from their activities or go to time out. Be sweet to the animals of this house or go to time out. Time out squashes the uprising of misguided independence like magic.
There’s hope. Cling to the hope and teach them how to use their independence wisely and you’ll make it mama. You will.