Thursday, March 13, 2008
The "Terrible" Threes
Someone once told me, "There's no such thing as the terrible twos...Just WAIT until they turn three!!". We are now beginning to see what that person meant here at the Pfaffl house! Phew! Landon is learning to be very sassy and stubborn. He has begun throwing temper tantrums and crying when we tell him "No". I can just see the wheels in his head turning as he tells me not to look at him before he messes with the computer. "Did you throw that?" is (more often than not) followed by his false-innocent, "NoooooooOOO....." and every one of my no's are followed by his now-famous, "You're not my best friend." come-backs. I tell him we're leaving somewhere and he either plays the "going limp" game in front of everyone or runs away to hide (soon to be followed by the going limp game if /when I catch him). I have recently found the one thing that's more difficult than a precocious almost-three-year-old....TWO precocious almost-three-year-olds!!!
We were at the little playground inside our zoo when the aforementioned incident happened. The playground is set up for pre-schoolers. It's covered in a layer of soft mulch and offers lots of safe play equipment for little ones, all surrounded by a wooden privacy fence and tucked away in the middle of our zoo. It has always been a nice, quiet place to let Landon burn off some energy, but lately it has felt like I have been the one burning the energy, running from one end of the playground to another, chasing my cheeky son. Today, I was sitting in the Adirondack rocking chairs with the other moms while the children ran around and played together. I watched Landon climb up the ladder to the slide and cheered for him when he came up with new (potentially dangerous) ways to come down. I watched as he tried to discreetly join in games with the other kids (glad to see him "putting himself out there", but sad that he's an only child....that's for another blog post entirely!).
I watched to see how he interacted with other kids, trying hard not to run to the rescue when he was ignored. Then I watched as another kid Landon's age picked up a huge fistful of mulch and threw it right into Landon's face. The other boy's mom and I exchanged a look that at least showed me we were in the same boat (and up the creek without a paddle to boot!) Apparently, I'm not the only mom dealing with the terrible threes! Before I could stop him, Landon had picked up his own fistful of mulch and threw it back at the boy. I was almost in arms length of Landon when the other boy's little two-year old brother joined in. All three of them were rubbing at their eyes and spitting out little pieces of wood, alternating between wicked laughter and accusing tears. We finally straightened everything out. The boys apologized to each other, hugged, and went their separate ways. I went over "Mommy's Playground Rules" one more time (the hundredth time, maybe?)...But, a few minutes later I saw the little boy pick up more mulch, sneak up to Landon and ram it right into his face again. I jumped up and ran to them, but not before a little pre-schooler smacking match broke out. They were swatting at each other and squealing and hopping all over the place. I had given Landon my warning and carted him out of the playground (as promised) faster than you can say, "Mommy Nap Time". He was, of course, kicking and screaming, telling me how unfair it was and that he didn't love me. I sat him down on the ground, made eye contact with him and had him talk to me for a minute about what was bothering him. I asked him, "What on earth possessed you to throw mulch at that boy?" and had a weird parenting moment when he told me, "The boy hit me and he throwed mulch at my eyes. So, I throwed mulch at he's eyes." I had seen the whole thing and I KNOW Landon didn't "start" it...and after hearing what he said, the "Mama Bear" in me had the silent urge to run after the "other mom" and say, "This was really YOUR kid's fault! HE started it!". Instead, I had to give him the whole "Just because someone hurt you doesn't mean you can hurt them. It is NEVER okay to hurt someone else." I could see the confusion on his face and I wanted to explain it to him in a way he could understand. I told him that instead of hitting someone, he should just tell them he didn't like what they were doing and come straight to me to tell me what was going on.
What do you guys do in situations like this? I guess i really want to know, what do you FEEL in situations like this? Any Mama bears out there? This is all just sooooooo new to me! He really has been a different kid lately (growing up, perhaps?) and it's been so hard to adjust to. I want to protect him from getting his feelings hurt, but I want him to be able to sort things out for himself, too. I want to make sure no one is physically hurting him, but if they do, I want him to know he can't retaliate...I want to raise him to be sweet and calm, but he is naturally a strong-willed, independent show-off. He's a boy through and through, all covered in dirt and bruises, doing anything for a laugh. How do I walk the line between letting him be "Landon" and letting him get away with too much? is there a simple answer to that question? Doubtful. Anyways, I know all of this is just a phase....and I love Landon no matter what. I still have the sweetest moments imaginable with him. he still give me the best hugs, kisses for no reason, and loves to be held and snuggled up. Three is the most challenging age yet, though. He is too big to be little and too little to be big, poor thing. He's trying to discover who he is and can't we all relate to that?