Writing and editing
category: baby
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“We may fairly and in all friendliness, describe the Three-and-a-half year old boy or girl as being characteristically inwardized, insecure, anxious, and above all, determined and self-willed. One might assume that his strong-willed self-assertiveness..might be rooted in personal security. Not so! In fact, the very opposite seems to be the case.”  – Louise Bates Ames.

People told me about three in the way that people have also told me about 14.  Thing is, I remember being a total ungrateful asshole to my parents for several years when I was a teenager. But I can’t remember what kind of asshole I was at three.  I felt worried, because I thought two was not Holden’s best age for joyful compliance, but most folks explained that three was actually so much worse. To be honest, three was fine. But three-and-a-half? Bananas.

We knew it was bad when we went to Florida, and on a special boat ride we saw a dolphin that swam right up to the boat and played in the waves beside it, looking at us as it swam underneath. Holden, the boy who has taught me about snapping shrimp and gulper eels and colossal squid, turned disdainfully away from the dolphin and lay face down on the bench for the duration of the trip. That started months of crazy tantrums, weird mood swings, and the strange ability to not be able to take “yes” for an answer and tantrum anyway.

Holden used to be great at going to sleep with the light off, but since 3.5 he has been terrified of his room, the dark , the ghosts and monsters he is convinced reside there. David pointed out that if a ghost spent just five minutes in that room alone with Holden – it would be out of there so fast.  Not even the creepiest ghost could stand a chance against the relentless screams of “THERE IS POO EVERYWHERE!!!!!!” or “ONE MORE STORY!! WAAHHHHHHH!!!! ONE MORE STORY!!!”

The book I am reading, actually suggested to avoid going out at all with your three-and-a-half-year old. I don’t really care when children have melt-downs around me in the store. But for sure, there are some people who do really care. I can tell because they post it on Facebook. And I know I should just get over it, but sometimes you just want to go to the grocery store and pay for your stuff quietly and not have 30% of the store thinking that either a) you are an asshole b) your kid is an asshole c) all of the above.

Good thing he is so damn cute and sweet and charming and gorgeous when he wants to be.

I was at a parenting book store last week, and the woman at the cash told me that I should prepare for age four, because that is the worst age. I felt like reaching out and shoving my wet glove into her mouth. Don’t even tell me. I can’t possibly prepare for worse. But in the most terrifying moments, I can imagine worse.

And it is bad.

Speaking of bad. This weather. I thought warming up would be a good thing. Not so. Do you know the part in Gone with the Wind where Rhett looks at Scarlett’s hands and he is like, “You can’t front on being fancy anymore because your hands are all fucked up from working in the fields or whatever. Plus you are wearing the drapes.” ? Well that is what David is going to say to me when he gets home from Regina and he sees my soft, useless yoga teacher hands that have blistered from the ice picking I am doing on the sidewalk. Minus the drapes part. I won’t wear the drapes.

4 comments

January 14th, 2014

Your poor hands!!
If it’s any consolation (heh heh)……., age six is pretty rough… – that’s when the sarcasm and cheeky attitude start. Gahhhh! But 3.5 was bad. I remember the biggest meltdown ever at Chapters/Indigo. I got such evil stares and just did my best to remain very very calm and look no one in the eye!! May the force be with you, Stan – tantrums are the worst. xo (Oh and both my kids – 6 and 8 – refuse to sleep with the light off…or go upstairs by themselves. Gah!)

stan

January 15th, 2014

Haley – O: Oh, meltdown at the bookstore. That is awkward! I remember 6 from teaching that around grade one or grade two – the boys especially – start looking at you like you are dumb or crazy or both.

Michelle

January 16th, 2014

Emma was a bear in her third year. Like Haley-O, I remember the biggest meltdown during that year, and it took place on the streets of Vancouver. I thought I was going to lose it. I was never sure if it was a fact that we uprooted her a week after her 3rd birthday and “moved” for the next two months half way around the globe…. or…. if it was just a developmental thing. Throughout the 4 years since then, I tend to think it is mostly about communication (and maybe a little bit about power!). At 3.5, even though they may be amazing at identifying all sorts of sea life, they still cannot rationally deal with their emotional needs, nor can they tell you about them. So, it becomes: “how can I best express myself and comfort myself????” “Aha, if I throw myself around and scream, I will get a hug and a treat!” All kids have their idiosyncrasies with fear and a strategic nightlight or two has been known to work. We have one in Emma’s room and one in the bathroom. Finding out in the morning that your child “missed” the toilet is a bummer (Yes, I have stepped in a puddle of urine!). Anyway, about the progression of aging in the next few years, I found that it keeps getting better. Things are never perfect, but the communication skills improve and I feel like the understanding I have now for “who” my child is has grown. She is now definitely her own person and hard for me to understand “why” she does things the way she does. Yet, if I have the patience to relax and let her explain her feelings, then we are all better for it. For as often as I now ask her to consider and change her emotional reactions (like a whiney rebuttal to my request that she help me load the dishwasher) and she can calm herself and realize it is not a big deal, I find that she also shows me that I need to consider my own reactions to her emotional needs (like the new-found shyness in public or sadness from a minor friendship conflict) – things I find trivial or unnecessary can be huge to her. In my observation of not only my child, I have loved any age after the threes! 4 is filled with sweetness and 5 is filled with reading and discovery, 6 begins the sense of humour, 7 has been expansive in both cognition and physical ability… finally a rough and tumble winter with true snowball escapades!

stan

January 19th, 2014

Michelle – I remember meeting Emma when she was 4 and in yoga. She would say, “Oh, I’m only 4!” Which I thought was rather self-aware. Of course, children are always a little different with a teacher they see once in a while than their parents. I certainly see with Holden how we totally get the worst of it. Regardless, I am looking forward to being able to leave to the house more with a 4 year old. He can really turn on a dime with his moods, so I always feel a little on edge. I’m sure that doesn’t make things any better.

Thanks for your insight. Emma is such a great person. I feel a bit better knowing that she was a crazy at 3.

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