Hiding in Closets: Life with a Threenager

Even the sweetest of faces have tough days. My threenager ignoring me.

Even the sweetest of faces has tough days. My threenager ignoring me.

Every morning she pads across my kitchen, plops down in the chair and demands a Pop Tart. I get a barrage of no’s and I don’t wannu  (thanks to Caillou she says it with a Canadian accent) as I try and bargain with her to go potty first. She brushes her ringlets out of her face and asks to watch Spongebob while eating her breakfast. Defeated, I oblige,  then run back to my room to hide in the closet. I generally wouldn’t like this type of arrangement but right now I’ve got a “threenager” – and I’m scared to death of her.

People tell you about the terrible twos. They don’t warn you about the traumatic for every frickin body threes.  She is a wonderful child. But her independence is wearing me out. I knew one day she would “rage against the machine” and totally do the opposite of anything I asked. I thought that would be more like 9 years from now but it seems I was wrong. She’s as sassy, sarcastic, and sneaky as any fourteen year old I know. I think it is more a phase than her true personality. And sometimes I think, it just MUST be me.

I never thought I’d be the type of person to hide from my kids. After all, I’m the parent. I’m in control. What I am learning is that – I’m not in control. She has become her own little person and I have to share in that control, giving up more of it little by little, each and every day. Some things SHOULD be up for discussion with her. Some things she SHOULD have a say in. I was not really brought up on that school of thought so it is foreign to me.  But no two children are the same. What worked for me might not work for her so I have to try something different.  If I involve her in the decision making she will be more likely to make the right ones.

I also have to make a huge apology to the parents I’ve looked at with my nose turned up and thought, “Why can’t you control your kids?” After several rounds of prying fingers from candy shelves and hauling out screaming children instead of my groceries, I do get it. And I’m so so sorry. But maybe if we try something different, our little ones will too.


Babies Know Everything

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My Kids

The coolest people I know.

I’ve learned to keep the remote controls on high surfaces (and sippy cups on low ones). I know the value of a simple set of keys. I can recite “The Thinks You Can Think” by Dr. Seuss from memory. My hands automatically trim crusts from PB&J sandwiches. Experience and wet wipes travel with me everywhere I go. However, there are days I am given lessons from my children. Sure they have taught me how to be patient and more giving. But there is something that I think all children possess before life beats them up. It is the essence of their resilience and energy — things I wish were still instinctual. 
1. Embrace every day.
My children wake up each morning with a smile. It all starts fresh for them. They don’t hold a grudge for being forced to go to bed. They aren’t still reeling with the emotional agony of last week’s shots. They are ready to face the day and glad that mommy is there with them. Of course they don’t have the same worries as mommy. But perhaps mommy worries about things she shouldn’t. 
2. Your best is good enough. 
The things my children do never cease to amaze me. It’s pretty safe to say it’s amazing to them too. No matter how wrong the lyrics are to the song they sing or how difficult it is to understand their artwork, they present it with such pride. They’ve done their best and they are proud to share it. I could definitely take a page out of that book.
3. Don’t take no for an answer.
Of course as parents, we really wish they would but a child’s determination in getting their way is pretty amazing. If asking several times doesn’t work, and being syrupy sweet THEN asking doesn’t work, then asking a few hours later doesn’t work… they ask again. How much more successful could we all be if we simply refused to accept no or don’t or can’t? Think about it.

4. Have a Plan B
No matter what I may be keeping them from trying to do, they find a way to do it. And it’s often done in some kind of sophisticated, baby genius way that I would never think of in a million years. They see possibilities where there are none. And they make a way out of them. If I could look at life’s problems through the eyes of a baby, with that determined tunnel-vision, oh, the woman I would be.

5. Get up and try it again.
No matter how many times my daughter slides off the arm of the couch she pops back up and keeps climbing. The same thing goes for my rough and tumble little boy. He takes a fall, wails a little bit then is off and running bumped head, wounded pride and all. They get knocked down daily — but it never seems to slow them down. I admire that.

6. Find the magic.
As an adult I often overlook the magic in simplicity. I find myself watching my children’s eyes as they run their fingers through water or study the cabinet hinges and I am overwhelmed at the concentration and enlightenment I see in their eyes. They question everything — explore everything… experience everything. They find beauty in old worn out toys. They make hours of entertainment out of cardboard boxes. They see miracles where I see nothing special. I hope to find a grown-up way to use my imagination. I feel like it would make me almost as interesting as my kids.

7. We CAN all just get along
My babies are biracial. They don’t really notice that nor do they notice the races or religions of their playmates. They understand others and are quick to comfort other children when they see someone upset. They share… or not. They are quick with forgiveness. They are full of compassion. They love so big it’s hard to imagine how hearts so full can fit into such little bodies.

It’s easy to be too busy being the parent and teacher to become the student. But our children can teach us so much about how life is meant to be lived if we pay attention — a way of living we probably once knew. I pray that the storms of life never dull their shining spirits. For now, I’ll be watching their wisdom closely. Watch your littles. You’ll learn something too.