Life with a 3 year-old is unpredictable. They are sunshine and giggles one minute and storm clouds and tantrums the next. They play happily with their siblings for a few minutes, but as soon as something doesn’t go their way they melt into a puddle of despair. When you’re out in public, they may happily hold your hand or you might end up dragging them when they protest, “I walk by my own self!” If you don’t have any older children, you may wonder if you are doing something terribly wrong as a parent. How many times will you have to put them in their room for being disrespectful? Will the public humiliation ever end? What is so horrible about being buckled into a carseat?
If you have older children, on the other hand, you understand that being 3 is tough business, and that “this, too, shall pass.” These little people are trying to figure out boundaries, and even though they may seem to hate the rules that you make for them, they desperately need for you to keep on doing just what you are doing. They are able to accomplish many tasks on their own, but they get frustrated when they can’t do them as well or as fast as you can. They are starting to have ideas that are entirely their own, but don’t always have the vocabulary or the thought process to express them yet. Older siblings don’t always include them, and it never feels good to be snubbed by your greatest heroes.
Of course, none of this gets them off the hook for bad behavior, but it does give a mother some hope that “being 3” is developmentally normal and that life goes on. And, of course, there are so many wonderful parts of life with a 3 year-old – the funny things that they say, the way that they love their parents and older siblings, the new games that they are able to play and enjoy, and the way that you can almost see them learning as they soak up the world around them.
Happy Tuesday afternoon to all of you awesome moms! I’m off to put together our dinner – I’m not sure exactly what it will be, but it will involve some of the two dozen hard-boiled eggs that we have sitting in our refrigerator. We’ll see how that goes over with the 3 year-old 🙂