Surviving age 3

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on this blog, but Mike and Quinn are out of the house and I have to do something with the eerily quiet time (I’ve already watched 2 episodes of Top Chef, cleaned the kitchen, and exercised … I’m so productive when I’m not parenting!), so I figured I’d check in about the joys of age 3.

It is a trend in parenting that with every passing year you are warned that it “gets harder.” And this is true – all that walking and talking and thinking and opining and imagining does make parenting more challenging (it also, of course, makes it more awesome in lots of ways), but so far, age 3 takes the cake. Quinn is like a perfect storm of difficult all wrapped up into one adorable package – she is very verbal (and vocal), stubborn, imaginative, opinionated, “helpful,” bossy, and strong-willed. Her favorite word is “why.” She sees monsters everywhere (mostly in her bedroom, though, and at bedtime). She is terrible at listening. She is the embodiment of age 3, as she should be. I’m also less patient than I would normally be (I hope) because I am almost 7 months pregnant. It’s hard to be calm and cool when your hips are aching, you have heartburn, you aren’t sleeping well(both because of the tiny inhabitant in your body and your bed), and bending down is the equivalent of climbing Everest.

None of this is anything new to parenting, of course, but it’s all new to us. I imagine with number two, we will have just finally given up and he will be a little King Joffrey running amuck (hopefully with less sociopathic behaviors, of course) and ordering us around.

Anyway, yesterday was like a perfect example of the ways in which age 3 is the worst.

For starters, Quinn is only half-potty trained. She does pretty well with pee, but poop is a struggle. We have tried everything to get her to go poo in the toilet – praise, sighs, bribery … Of all of them, bribery (specifically in candy form) seems to be the most effective, despite it going against the fiber of my being. Mike, in a stroke of brilliance, decided we would bribe her with dum-dums for trying and large lollies for actually succeeding, since she really likes lollipops right now. Great idea. But we have a smart kid, right? So yesterday, she “tried” to go poo 4 times because she wanted pink lollipops – 3 years old and she totally knows how to work the system. She did have one minor success, which earned her the coveted large lollipop, but this resulted in a temper-tantrum when she was told to leave it at home because we had to go to outdoor camp and it was super sticky (she was promised she would get it when we got home, but obviously 3 year olds aren’t great at looking ahead). So … backfire. (And naturally, 3 hours later when we were out doing some errands, she went in her pants. AGAIN.)

The second parenting misfire of the day came last evening when we were doing our nightly bedtime struggle. Quinn has never been a champion sleeper, although we have had periods of smooth sailings. We were finally doing okay after lots of rough nights (once she developed her imagination, everything in the dark became scary), and then we went camping and she came down with hand, foot, and mouth disease and ended up sleeping with me for the next five nights. Once she was well and moved back to her own bed, she started refusing to go to bed without snuggling. I’ve been trying now to wean her off the snuggling but moving progressively farther from her bed with the goal of getting out of the room and having her go to sleep by herself. Yesterday after sitting on the floor for 30 minutes, I gave her a kiss and told her I was going to go to my room. Well. That DID NOT WORK. As soon as I left, the “shadow kitten,” began plaguing her (WTF?) and she worked herself into such a state of hysteria that no one was going to be sleeping anytime soon. Soooo, I decided to try to comfort her with my old teddy bear, Gus, telling her that when I was little and scared, I would just hug Gus.

So that didn’t work.

The thing is, Gus doesn’t have eyes anymore. I’ve had the bear since age 5 and he was well-loved. At some point, his eyes (and nose) fell off. This greatly upset Quinn. She got super worked up about “Dusty’s” (adorable) eyes. I think she was also a little afraid of the bear. So … fail. Fail, fail, fail. What ended up happening? At 9:30, fully 90 minutes after bedtime, I snuggled with her for 5 minutes and she fell asleep.

Quinn for the WIN.

She is a clever girl, that one.

This isn’t to say that she isn’t also delightful. She says the cutest, most amazing things and can be super funny and sweet. She is constantly singing and dancing, as if her life is a musical. She is really getting excited for the baby and loves to pat my belly (the only person allowed to do so). I love her like crazy, but no one ever said that just because you love someone you like them all the time. That’s the thing about kids – they engender very strong emotions. Obviously, I would rip out someone’s eyes if they hurt her, but at the same time, some days I just want 5 blessed minutes without her (or 10. Or 20.).

So yes, parents of newborns, one year olds, and two year olds. Three is the worst. The worst! But I hear four is pretty good. Fingers crossed.

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