Forget the terrible twos, in my experience is the threes that will get you. My son recently celebrated his 3rd birthday and overnight he has gone from being an easy-going toddler to a crazy little kid who likes to wrestle everything and say "poohey bum-bum" a lot. I want my baby back!
My best friend's son is three months older than mine and through every stage of development he has provided me with a glimpse of what to expect in the coming months. But this recent development was one I was sure my beautiful boy was not going to follow suit with - the change from cherubic toddler to tearing tornado.
I watched as her once placid little boy started wrestling random objects and hurtling through life at a million miles an hour and noted to my friend that he was, er, a little bit full on lately. "It's the age," she sighed. "You'll go through it too."
But I wasn't so sure about that. Not my lovely boy. He was certainly active, but not boisterous or unruly and I was sure that's how he would stay.
I was wrong.
How do you decide when to give in and when to stand your ground? Making that distinction is so much harder than you realise before you have kids.
My friend now tells me she knew I didn't believe her and was inwardly doing the mutely laugh, knowing full well that my angel would join hers in the land of the monsters. She also reminds me that this is probably the testosterone surge we have read about in 'Raising Boys' and that it's something they have to go through on their way to becoming men. But I still want my baby back!
The change could also have something to do with the day sleep he has officially dropped, even though we both still desperately need it. But whether it is lack of sleep, testosterone or just him growing up that's causing it it's resulting in a bit more silliness and tad more aggression and a whole lot more attitude.
You see, it's not just the wresting, general destructive behaviour and obsession with potty talk (who knew poo was so funny??) that is wearing me down, it is the newfound exerting of independence that I'm finding such hard work.
Again, it is something he has to go through and I am glad I have a strong willed and independent child. But the battles we are waging each morning as he stands his ground on what he will or won't wear ARE DOING MY HEAD IN.
I used to love choosing outfits for my little boy and was proud of how he looked, but those days are long gone now that he insists on being his own stylist. I thought this was just a girl thing? Or perhaps I am raising a metro-sexual, because my son is very particular about his clothing. Particular in that he has a repertoire of two outfits he will consent to wearing. Anything other than those and it escalates into major tears and tantrums. And that's just me!
So getting out of the house every day has become a battle of the wills. Each morning I have to decide whether I have the strength to put my foot down and force him to wear something from his wardrobe full of brand new clothes, or cave and let him go out wearing the same dirty top he has had on for four days straight. I must admit, some days I am prepared to swallow my pride, just to stop that high-pitched whining that could cut through both glass and my brain.
The whole process is incredibly frustrating, yet part of me admires his stubbornness. The other day was a cold one and I told him he couldn't play outside unless he put his jacket on. He refused, I held firm. He stood in the doorway for 15 minutes screaming but still I stood my ground. So did he. Eventually he decided to stay inside rather than admit defeat. I was kind of proud of his tenacity, even with my screaming induced headache.
But seriously, how do you decide when to give in and when to stand your ground? Making that distinction is so much harder than you realise before you have kids. I remember being an expert on tough parenting before I was one, now I realise it is never that clear cut.
But it is a fine line between giving in when it doesn't matter and giving in so much you raise an overindulged tyrant. I do not want my child to be the kid no one wants to have over because he is a brat, because nobody likes a brat. Especially one that wrestles everything and says "poohey bum-bum" a lot.
I am good at saying no to the big things, but I don't want to be a kill-joy that spends all day saying no to everything and sometimes with the little things it's easier just to keep the peace. But is there such a thing as a 'little' thing? And by caving in to those little things, that extra biscuit when you said no, jumping on the couch when it's not hurting anyone, letting him wear the dirty top to soothe the tears - are you setting a precedent you will later regret?
I don't know. But I do know this is just a stage and my little boy is still the same beautiful little boy he always was - he is just growing up. So I make sure I give him opportunities to use up that boisterous energy and occasionally I'll even wrestle on the floor with him. And I let him make his own decisions when it's appropriate and I try to teach him there are consequences for every decision we make.
And then I cherish those few quiet moments we have together, in the mornings when he sleepily snuggles me in bed or when he's tired of being a big boy and asks me to cuddle him like a baby. In those moments I know my baby boy is, and will always be, there. Even when he's acting like a poohey bum-bum!
Are you finding your kids particularly challenging lately? What behaviour pushes your buttons? Did your boys go through the 3-year-old silliness and how do girls differ? And do you give in to the little things or do you believe a parent should always win in the battle of the wills? Let's have a conversation!
Comment on Amity's blog here.