Elyse Lalonde has always called Saskatoon home. She started on the motherhood journey in the Summer of 2015 when she had her son. Elyse is a working mom, always seeking a fine balance in life with a busy toddler. As a MommyConnections “alumnus,” she enjoys socializing with moms and babies her son’s age. Elyse has always enjoyed writing and journaling, and hopes to share her experiences (good, bad, and sarcastic) with the online parenting community in Saskatoon.
Threenagers. Real, and terrifying. And my child is only on the cusp of three.
I thought this period of time was a myth, so I’ve been avoiding the realization like the plague… and yet, it has hit us like a ton of bricks. I was hoping it was just a cute little muse that parents of older kids play on parents with younger kids. I was so very wrong (not trying to scare parents of two-year olds out there, but the terrible twos were fantastic. I miss them).
Screaming, yelling, demanding, power struggles, intermittent hugs for comfort, meltdowns, and cries of angst! Mornings that start in tears, where I come to work in tears. Daycare pickups where my day also ends in tears- my kid’s tears or my own. 1.5 hours over and above the usual supper hour: some days, you could sum it up to say it’s All. Day. Long. Or so it seems.
I remember the “glorious” days of the Wonder Weeks where the number of cloudy periods totally surmounted the sunny times. It seemed there was no end in site. And that early infant time period was a challenging time, for its own reasons. But within the stressful periods came understanding of the rapid growth and development of our little ones, physically and mentally. And it gave me comfort to know that this was all normal. One week leads to another and to another, and all of a sudden, you’re in the throes of toddlerhood, missing the days of infancy.
Talking with colleagues and friends about their experiences with discipline and child rearing, all I hear from them is that it only gets worse. Is that a joke? I’m looking at my kid, who is my kid, but also not my kid. What’s with all the attitude? Where did this come from? It just showed up one day, uninvited. Probably just some nasty run in with Karma.
Tantrums, though. Am I right? I’m unsure of the things that no longer set my son off. He wants to turn on the tap, brush his own teeth, pour his own milk, put on his shoes, open the garage door, walk down the stairs by himself without anyone following, pick out his own clothes… God forbid that you dress him! That’s a no-no, mommy.
I’m a fan of talking things out. I’m not one to dismiss emotion, or try to contain it, but I do often feel compelled to quell a tantrum as fast as possible, using reasonable methods of discipline and negotiating. But sometimes I feel like a hostage myself, in my own home, with my own son. And when his emotion overpowers all reason, we deal with whatever explosion ensues. Do I lose my patience? Absolutely. And often. When someone’s poking at your hot buttons, how could you not?
We use “time outs” as a moment to take by yourself on the stairs to get calm, take a breather, and come back to complete and try to correct a negative situation. One evening, my son’s time out stretched all the way upto his room. One time-out after another, after another. I could sense he actually enjoyed it. Did that bother me? Yes, at first. Then again, no. That’s exactly what him and I and my husband all needed. Just a few moments to ourselves, to calm down and get reasonable with one another once more. Instead of feeling panicked or defeated because I was running out of options, I accepted my son in the moment and went with it. When he was calm again, we walked downstairs together to finish supper.
Is there a perfect solution? Heck no. With a threenager, it’s moment to moment, touch and go. Trial and error. It’s a constant balance of trying to keep your logic and reason and still allow emotion to support and guide yourself and your kid to comfort and understanding. Somehow, despite the dance, we all come out the other end. Each and every day.
For me, the underlying issue is the fear of losing control over a situation, but I think it’s also the fear that my son is losing the babyish innocence that he’s had his whole life. I look into his eyes when he’s happy and playing with me and telling me stories, and I see the eyes of my baby from 2 years ago. He’s becoming an active and clever individual, with thoughts and opinions of his own that he can now express through words and actions. He’s got a great memory, too. It’s so cool to watch him grow.
Thank goodness for the waves of good, and fun, and joy, and happiness. And with more frequent challenges that the threenagers bring on, it can feel like the good times are few and far between, yet in the end, the good is getting great, and it does outweigh the negative.
I’m told that one day, you stop and reflect, and your kids are suddenly teenagers, and the worries continue on. Are we doing a good enough job? Will we ever know? Does it ever stop? No. But I certainly don’t want it to.