“Whoever came up with the term “terrible twos” must have felt very foolish after their kid turned three…”
― Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat
In the months leading up to Stella’s third birthday, I thought there was no way age three could be worse than age two. I thought if I could just get past two, everything would be fine!
It is NOT fine.
The tantrums are epic. She screams herself red in the face until she’s choking and hyperventilating because you said NO to wearing rubber boots to bed, or putting on nail polish right before a bath, or eating jelly beans for dinner; or YES, she has to wear underwear today, just like every other day…
She is totally rude. Now, when people smile at her in the grocery store and tell her she has the most beautiful hair, she grumbles and whines and turns around so she doesn’t have to look at them.
And she thinks she’s a baby. I know the “experts” say it’s just a phase or whatever, but it’s still maddening to hear the incoherent, monosyllabic mumbling that comes out of her mouth. Her height does not help the situation. She looks like a realllllllly immature five-year-old when she says, “Da da, look, I wet!”
AND, she likes Taylor Swift songs. Gah! But I guess that’s my fault for letting her watch the movie SING and letting her dance to the “pig song…”
The good news is, she usually reserves the worst of this unpleasantness for whenever Dad is in the room. We don’t know why, because he doesn’t put up with it any more than I do. Wait, I guess that’s not good news. Never mind.
On the other hand, Stella is so sweet and happy and articulate. Those are her two extremes: she’s either delightful or demonic. There is no middle ground right now.
At her best, Stella can be reasoned with and you can actually have a conversation with her, sort of. Example:
S: “I want Shark! Will you go get him? He’s in Sophie’s room.”
D: “I’m sorry, but we don’t have Shark any more.”
S: “No, we do, he’s just in the other room. Will you please go get him?”
Dad, in hopes of having a tender, teaching moment to impress upon her young mind the importance of decluttering and sharing your abundance with those less fortunate, continues:
D: “Ok, I’ll go check…”
He comes back and makes up some baloney story,
D: “You know, here’s what happened. There was another girl who didn’t have any toys and we knew you had so many toys and would want to share with her, so we gave Shark to her so she would have something to play with. Doesn’t it feel good to share and help kids who don’t have toys?”
S: “No. I want Shark!”
Generally, Stella is almost completely self sufficient and helpful. When she’s in a good mood, she’ll do whatever I say. Thank goodness. And one of the most amazing things about her is her resilience. I stopped keeping track of how many times a day she falls down or bumps into walls or scrapes her knees or elbows because it’s never been a big deal. She’ll cry for two seconds and then say, “I’m okay!” It’s the best.
Her latest trick, when you compliment her on how good she is at doing X, is to respond with, “Yeah, I have dexterity.” We said dexterity means you’re good at doing things with your hands, such as: helping to make dinner by chopping vegetables (with a butter knife); painting our nails (with child proof nail polish); cutting up catalog paper into confetti-sized bits; writing (her name, the alphabet); drawing (flowers and outlines of hands with added fingernails and jewelry details, the Cat in the Hat, “potato people,” which are ovoid outlines of bodies with bulbous eyes and sticks for arms and legs); coloring all my printed MAGIC HOUR sketches with colored pencils on the light box after I’ve transferred the lines to watercolor paper; watercolor painting; coloring with markers; drilling holes in her play doh dentist patient’s teeth (his name is Mr. Unlucky) after administering healthy doses of Novocain; playing Dr. Stella, which entails bringing all her stuffed animals back from the dead by taking their temperatures and giving them flu shots; filling up all her purses with Legos and carrying them around the house; taking empty cardboard boxes and stuffing them with the most random assortment of toys then hiding the boxes in weird places; the list goes on….
She also likes looking at pictures of Australia (since reading, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, she tells us she’s going to Australia every day) and reading GREEN EGGS AND HAM and of course, hearing about every little thing that happened in the Bible and Book of Mormon (current favorite stories: Joseph of Egypt, Moses, Laban’s death, Abinadai’s death, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Noah’s Ark)
I suppose these bright spots are worth the aggravation of three-year-old tantrums…just kidding, what am I saying?