Thursday, July 3, 2014

The three year old.

This title has been hanging out in my drafts for weeks and weeks now. Maybe months. I started wanting to write this post right after Easter when Finn and I got into a fight over which stroller we were going to take to walk to our friends' house for an egg hunt and both of us nearly lost our minds.

He recovered immediately. I am still trying to regain my footing.

Whoever coined the term terrible twos had obviously not yet gotten to the threes. Because with no context, the twos do look pretty terrible. But compared to the threes? No contest. I'm sure when their little darling turned three and they realized they were not even close to being out of the woods, they wanted to kick themselves for wasting such a good catchphrase on the wrong age.

But mostly they just wanted to kick something, anything!, to channel the rage that comes from living with a three year old.

After our Easter Sunday throw down, Bill sat me down and made me re-watch the Louis C.K. comedy special Hilarious where he talks about his three year old. He doesn't call her his three year old; he calls her the three year old. I found this very comforting. It's such an easy way of saying, "My child is great. But this age can suck it."

I immediately took to calling Finn The Three Year Old.

It's not unlike that scene in Knocked Up when Ben and Alison are fighting and Ben says, "I know it's not you, it's the hormones, but I just want to say FUCK YOU, HORMONES. You're a bitch...HORMONES!" Because, sure, it's the hormones. But who wants to fight with a hormone?

That's how I've felt with Finn this year. Like I want to shake the three year old part of him and scream at it and kick it to the curb without causing any damage to the little person inside. Because I LOVE the little person inside. But the three year old part is driving me nuts. The fact that there's no separation between the two is what makes it so challenging.

They're so small and impressionable and adorable sometimes. Like, just the most precious beings you'll ever have the privilege to know. They're amazing. But they're also psychotic. And you never know what you're going to get. One minute, cutest, sweetest person ever in the history of the world. The next minute? Full on rage fest. It's like invasion of the body snatchers.

I do everything I can to avoid Finn's three year old moments. I agree with almost everything he says, even when I know he's lying. Because who wants to get in another fight about what he did with his grandparents (the ones with the Legos) before I was born? That's a losing argument and I know it. So I just nod and say, "That's nice. Why don't you tell me more about it..." Because he will fight - and win - over just about anything.

There are, of course, times I have to engage and those are the times I dread. Like this morning. At five forty this morning, Finn walked into our room and said sweetly, "I want to watch a show on Netflix, please." We've been working on asking nicely instead of demanding so I appreciated his tone. But at five forty in the morning? That's a no. (I'm sorry if your house is one that wakes up at the crack of dawn...ours just doesn't.)

I said it as nicely as I could. I tried my best not to back myself into a corner. No if/then statements, no strong oppositional stands. But it didn't matter what I did or said, he was not getting his way and he knew it. This is where things can go really bad really fast. It's like he has a reserve tank of whoop ass at the ready just for these moments. I may be bleary eyed and half asleep but HE is ready to rumble.

Once he starts, I know I can't reason with him. And I certainly can't cave once he's screaming at me. The whole thing can go from a simple request to a lose/lose in 2.4 seconds. It's like I don't even know what's happening until it's too late. It's maddening. And SO unpredictable. It seems there is no rhyme or reason to the there year old.

We got lucky. For whatever reason, his heart wasn't quite in it this morning. He cried and whimpered and protested some but there were no full on screams, no kicking or yelling, "NO!" in my face. He didn't even wake up Liam. 

I think that my sister's advice is helping. The more I find ways to lay down the law and stick to my guns (even over silly things), the more Finn learns to listen to me and respect my wishes. 

Either that or he's running out of juice. His fourth birthday is right around the corner...

{Here's a link to the Louis C.K. clip - take the time to watch it. You will not be sorry.}

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