Monday, January 9, 2012

The Three Year Old Has Arrived

I heard that the twos were terrible, but the threes were horrible. And as we edged toward three, I thought those before me were on to something. But then Ethan things got what I would call a little easier. After all, Ethan's comprehension became more advanced. He understood what I was asking of him more clearly. I no longer screamed and fought me every time we got in the car. In fact, he started getting in the car seat on his own. And that new theme of wanted to do EVERYTHING on his own emerged.

I will admit, the more developed independent streak has, at times, made me wish for a more congenial, timid boy. But in the end, I would prefer Ethan to know his mind and to be fearless at trying things out on his own. His drive toward independence is something to be encouraged rather than squashed, and I have told myself countless times that it is a skill that will most definitely serve him well later in life. As annoying as it is to wait for him to get in the car seat or go to the potty or put his own lid on his cup, especially when we're running 10 minutes late already, I have learned to take a deep breath and remember how proud I am of my Mr. Independence. And so these things just didn't seem that "horrible." Alas, I knew not what I was in for....

This weekend marks the first weekend of power struggle galore. Sure, we've had power struggles. A kid with his own mind and a Mom with her own mind are determined to run into power struggles. However, nothing has ever reached the epic proportions reached over Saturday and Sunday. And bedtime Sunday night could NOT have come any sooner!

Obstinate is a word that instantly springs to mind. As we said one thing, he said another. As we asked him to do one thing, he did another. Push and pull, push and pull. And if I thought Saturday was bad, it was nothing compared to Sunday.

You see, my husband says that if he leaves the room for two minutes, Ethan and I are at each others throats. How can that be? Ethan and I are very similar for one. For two, that child likes to push my buttons more than any one else's. I've been told that children will push their parent's buttons and test them more because they feel more confident and secure with them. If that's true, than Ethan is the most confident person on Earth in my presence. He LIVES for my reaction.

So naturally, when Clint was gone most of Sunday, Ethan thought it might be a perfect time to try out his newfound "testing abilities" on mommy dearest. I won't give an exact account. I'll just give a few examples.

Ethan drops an ornament (we're putting away the tree)
Mom: Ethan, that's Daddy's ornament. Let's not break it. Could you please put it right there?
Ethan: No.
Mom: Put it down, Ethan, right now before you break it.
Ethan puts it down and then reaches for it again.
Mom: Please don't touch it.
Ethan smiles, looks at me, and touches it with a single fingertip.

Ethan: Can I have an ice cream?
Mom: Play for a while, and then you can have one before we go. (we just went there to play.)
Ethan: No. I want an ice cream now.
Mom: After you play a while. We're leaving right after the ice cream.
Ethan runs off and plays. Keeps coming back and asking. I finally give in because I want one, too.
Mom: What do you want? A hot fudge sundae (because that's what I'm getting) or an ice cream cone?
Ethan: Sundae.
We eat our sundaes
Ethan: Can I have an ice cream cone now?
Mom: No. I gave you a choice, and you said you wanted a sundae.
Ethan: But I didn't want a sundae. I wanted an ice cream cone so I should get an ice cream cone.
Mom: No. You asked for a sundae which is essentially the same thing minus the cone plus the chocolate.
Ethan: But that's not what I want.
Mom: Go play or we're leaving.
He runs off but returns frequently hoping my mind has changed. It never did.

At home that evening after Dad's return.
Ethan: I want to help wash the lettuce.
Mom: Get your stool. Get over here.
Ethan gets his stool and I set him up with a bowl of lettuce in our salad cleaner. He goes to town.
Mom: Great job, Ethan. Thanks for being so helpful. Okay, it's time to get down.
Ethan: No. I don't want to.
Mom: Ethan, it's time to eat dinner. Let's get up to the table. Please.
Ethan stares at me but doesn't budge. By this time, I've had it. My voice rises.
Mom: Ethan, I'm going to give you to the count of three to get down right now. If you don't, I'm going to take a toy for one day.
Ethan: No. I want to wash lettuce! (there isn't any more to wash).
Mom: There isn't any more. It's time to eat. 1....2....
Ethan looks at me with defiance written clearly on his face. He reaches over, turns on the water and jumps down as I get to....
Mom: 3.
Ethan: I'm down. His chin is in the air.
Mom: Ethan, get up on that stool and turn that water off right now!
He climbs up there and stares at me.
Mom: Ethan, I'm not telling you again. If you do not turn that water off right now, you are going to your room for 5 minutes! (I'm a firm believer in time-out as many minutes as you are old, so you can see my anger)
Ethan stands up a little taller, pushes his chin a little further up, looks me directly in the eyes and says, "No." He didn't yell it. He said it calmly. Just as I would.
By this time, I know his dad is standing behind me.
Clint: Did he just do that because I walked in?
Mom: Nope. Been that way all day.
I walk over, trying to keep an angry smirk off my face (yes, I smile when I'm really, really mad and thinking of doing horrible things. In this case, I've never wanted to knock that child upside the head as bad as I did in that moment), and pick up my OBSTINATE son. I carry him to his room and tell him he's getting a time-out for 5 minutes.

I leave him in there for 5 minutes. When it's over, we talk, we hug, we kiss, and the Ethan I USED to know is back....but only momentarily. This nasty little Ethan reared his ugly head again this morning.

It would be infinitely easier to give in to his every whine, whim, and tantrum. It would be infinitely easier to let him do whatever the hell he wants. It really, really, would. But I can't. And so, I must wade through the horrible threes determining which battles to fight and which to ignore. Because there are very few battles in which I will surrender. Fight or ignore. No in will, I know, just bring about stronger, harder issues later.....

The twos have nothing on the threes.


  1. Oh girl... he sounds like me as a child you have your hands full for sure. I mean you KNOW that already right?

    "No" just as plainly as I would have said it - had me laughing.

  2. :-) My mom told me about Noah's encounter with Ethan and the pool table...haha! He's obviously got a TON of character, which is great...except for moments like those!

  3. No one tells you how horrible three is, and at four...Bree is still just like this. So defiant. I thought the complete and utter independence was a good thing...but it's more of a pain in my butt right now than anything. There is a lot of yelling that goes on between me and Bree. Those instances that you posted though, sounds like Bree up and down.

    I was really hoping that she would turn sweet again just as quickly as she turned into a butt...but it hasn't happened. There are very few sweet moments with her. I swear she lives to find new ways to aggravate me. She's worse than either of my Brothers ever thought about being.

    I feel you.

  4. oooh lrod we're going through the same thing. no me gusta the threes!

  5. He is definitely one tough cookie to crap. Your doing a great job and you must continue to be firm.
    He cannot win! My daughter pushes all my buttons, always had. I have told you this before but our doctor said we will be able to reason with her when she is three.
    That didn't work so I assumed he meant thirty. Actually thirty is the best I've seen so far!

  6. oh man. i feel your pain. I call G strong willed and determined and set in his ways. and i really have to balance the when is it easier to just give in.