Last night, my 3-year-old son told me angrily that I wasn’t being very nice. He was on the verge of tears. I had asked him to go potty before bedtime. Like I do every. single. night. He told me he already went potty! That was two hours ago. I told him if he didn’t go potty he would have to go to bed without reading any books. Two minutes later, he crawled on the floor to the bathroom where he put up the toilet seat with his forehead before standing to pee. He shuffled back to his bed and demanded that his baby brother stay in his room to read books. When I put his brother on the bed next to him, he started kicking and screaming. He didn’t want his brother to touch him or the books.
This morning he woke up and walked out of his room and without saying a word, cuddled up into my lap on the couch. After a minute, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “I love you mama.” Then he sweetly asked for Cheerios and raisins (like he does every. single. morning) and said thank you when I delivered his snack. He asked to watch Dinotrux. When I told him we didn’t have Dinotrux, he burst into tears and slid his limp body from the couch to the carpet, flinging his Cheerios and raisins all over the floor. Then he cried about his snack being “ruined.” WTF?!
This afternoon I picked him up from school like I do almost every. single. day. and he asked me where we were going. When I told him we were going home, he started crying and screamed that he wanted to go on a walk. It was raining. He demanded to know why it was still raining, said we could still go on a walk, and started kicking the back of my seat. This went on for five blocks until he got distracted by a Bruno Mars song on the radio and started singing the (inappropriate for a toddler) lyrics. When we got home, he happily started playing with his favorite Legos.
The point is, nothing makes sense when it comes to 3-year-olds. One minute they are sweet, and the next they are screaming. One day they say please and thank you, and the next everything is “not fair.” But you know what is really not fair? How hard it is to parent 3-year-olds.
It’s so hard to soak up those sweet, fleeting moments as they come when you’re still flustered from the last meltdown or exhausted from the previous tantrum. And how are you supposed to practice the whole “live in the moment” mantra when you’re watching the clock and counting down the hours until bedtime? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that there’s no point in trying to understand them or attempting to explain their behavior. And there’s definitely no way to predict when they’ll suddenly stop liking orange cheese and start refusing to eat anything but mozzarella.
Chalk it up to toddlerhood. Laugh it off. Cry it off. Go in your closet, and scream it off. Text your mom friends about how ridiculous bath time was. Treat yourself to an extra glass of wine after bedtime. Hire a babysitter.
But whatever you do, do not take it personally. Because absolutely nothing makes sense when it comes to 3-year-olds. Which is why mine is currently crying about the kind of beans I put in his burrito — as he eats it.