I suspect the “The Terrible Twos” is a lie propagated by the pharmaceutical and booze industries to sell us their products. They set us up to believe that if we can just muster up enough patience to weather the second year of our child’s life, that the rest will be hugs and harmony. So as our kid’s third birthday approaches, we relax and look back with pride upon how we survived the previous two years without any lengthy hospital stays or restraining orders, and fantasize about our new future with a child who can ride in the car for more than 8 minutes and eat a meal without throwing ranch dressing. But as soon as that third birthday party is over, a new, more energetic, more resolute, and opinionated beast appears. The two-year old has shed his skin, and exposed the dirty little lie that the past year has only been practice for enduring a more formidable foe: The Xanax Threes.
Our adorable beast has been three for less than a month, but it’s already clear that we’re facing a new species of trouble. He’s still the same charming, demanding, edible-cheeked cherub that he was before November 17th, only now, he spends roughly 30 minutes a day (broken out into half a dozen five-minute chunks) in a completely inconsolable state for apparently almost no reason at all. We’ve already plowed through the theories, methods, options, and constipation meds, so we’re down to the Hail Mary of parenting: threatening to send him to his room if he doesn’t calm down. I know that sounds terrible, but it’s better than going into the panic room and singing lullabies until he’s done.
What’s different about his flip-outs now, is that he inexplicably continues them even after we’ve given him what he wants. “I gave you THE WHOLE BOX of Band Aids, now stop yelling!” should result in a cease-fire, but instead, he continues to stand there and scream “I want Band Aids” while he’s holding an entire box of Band Aids. Just to prove a point, I’m tempted to fill my mouth with cake and complain about how hungry I am. “I need more food in my mouth! Yes, the one that’s already filled with cake!” Asking him calmly if there’s something else he wants, or if there’s another, perhaps more emotional, reason he’s upset, only makes him angrier. If one of us tries to escape, he chases us. Clearly, we’re being punished and it’s important to him that we remain present until that punishment is complete. “Fine, you gave me ALL the Band Aids, but that doesn’t make up for all the time before then when you were telling me I could only have one. Not only were you kind of lying, but now I also find you weak. Frankly, I’m appalled. For that, you must listen to THIS.”
Before we know it, we’re all yelling at each other because we all have various questions, needs and desires, and it’s important to us that we’re heard.
Lindsay: “IS TOMORROW RECYCLING DAY?”
Me: “NO IDEA! HEY, I THINK MY TOE IS INFECTED!”
Our poor little 5 year-old just yells right along with us,
Silas: “CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME MILK?”
We’ve had a three-year old before, but appear to have gleaned no lasting knowledge of how to handle one. Clearly, our little guy’s brain is going through a growth spurt of some kind. The recent changes in his sleeping patterns and jump in verbal abilities are ample evidence of that. For some reason though, he still can’t bring himself to say, “The precise reason that I’m crying is because my nose is experiencing a dreadful itch which I can’t seem to muster the energy or will to scratch. Instead of simply telling you that, I have hitherto said I wanted Band Aids — admittedly, a ridiculous, and ineffective manner in which to alert you of an itch. If you would be so kind as to scratch my nose for me, I assure you that I will curtail these histrionics at once.”
Do I want a child who talks like a character on Downton Abbey? Yes, maybe I do. I guess for now though, our plan is to get sound-proof windows, or tell everyone we adopted a dog.