Crazed. Wired. Defiant. Grabby. Messy. Mischievous. Sneaky. Manipulative.
I wish I could show you a picture of the beautiful, angelic child I’m describing right now (I can’t due to legal/DHS bullcrap). Because her picture would so not match the above description. You probably wouldn’t believe me that such an adorable child could be described in such a way.
Unless, that is, you are raising or have raised a 3-year-old.
I always tell people how crazy our little girl is and how much trouble she gets herself into and how many messes she makes, but the only people who seem to understand and believe are those who either are parents or have seen her in action.
For fun I decided to make a log of one day detailing everything this lovely child did. You know, just to prove to myself and everyone else I wasn’t making this stuff up. Problem is, I have 4 other children and finding time to make notes every twenty minutes is a bit difficult. I also can’t remember everything later on.
The other day, though, I found myself home alone with my precious girl because she was a little under the weather, so I figured it was a good opportunity to try. Below is the daily log I wrote down throughout the day. It turned out to be a somewhat mild day since she wasn’t completely herself and her siblings were gone most of the day – less mischief to get into.
8:00 She dumped her dry Frosted Mini Wheats on the end table.
9:00 She got my Germ X out of my purse and squirted it all over the coffee table.
9:30 While I was in the shower, she got into some candy from my room and ate 2 Hershey’s chocolates and one small package of Starbursts, leaving the packaging in pieces on the living room floor.
10:30 She stepped in dog poop on the way to the car, so I had to clean off her shoe. (Not her fault, but still…)
12:15 Shopping wasn’t too bad, surprisingly, but she didn’t want to come out of the car when we got home. She instead climbed into the front seat and began messing with coins. I had to drag her out as she screamed and cried.
12:25 She didn’t want to eat lunch, so I had to threaten and bribe to get her to eat just a few bites.
12:30 She spilled her apple juice on the table.
12:40 I gave her the last drink of juice left in her cup and she managed to spill it down her shirt. I changed her shirt.
2:30 She opened the back door on her own and wandered outside with bare feet. Later on, she did it again with my shoes on.
4:00 – 6:30: She tried to get into my computer, succeeded, and smacked the keyboard quite a few times; she was sent to time out twice for screaming loudly enough to burst eardrums while playing with her siblings.
6:30 She barely ate dinner even when forced, dropped her fork twice, pushed away from the table, put her feet on the table twice, and eventually went to time out without finishing.
7:00 She got the baby medicine out of the box (luckily she didn’t open it).
7:30 She got into two decorations in the living room.
8:00 She opened my water bottle (by some miracle nothing was spilled before I caught her).
8:15 She splashed water on the bathroom mirror while attempting to brush her teeth.
The crazy thing to think about is that that’s only one child! One! I currently have four others! However, they aren’t nearly as crazy and…time-consuming, for lack of a better word.
At this point, some of you are probably thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot for one child.” Others of you are probably thinking, “That’s it? Mine is way worse.” If you’re the latter, my hat’s off to you, my fellow sufferer.
Dealing with three-year-olds is tough! We’ve got to stick together! Encourage each other. Be there to pat each other’s backs as we curl up in the fetal position in the corner, whimpering and rocking back and forth with our fingers gripping tightly to the roots of our hair, biting out lip till it bleeds so we don’t scream and wake up the children.
We need to be there to remind each other that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A light that promises a somewhat calm, obedient, and sane child. And the light is real! I’ve seen it in other children and heard of it from other parents. Her two older brothers have made it through to the light. We’ve just got to hang on, people.
And in the meantime…let us vow to cherish our children for who they are, even in this transition stage. Let us see the beauty in their intelligence, creativity, and curiosity. Let us see past the mischief and messes and into their bright, beautiful eyes that are looking up to us and learning from us. Let us balance discipline with love, so that they grow up knowing how to act, but also not afraid to get dirty and try new things. Let us somehow mold and train them without quenching their youthful little spirits.
It’s a tough balancing act. But that’s what motherhood is, isn’t it? We’ll mess up. That’s certain. But these precious little children are worth our best efforts.
And in the end, they’ll forgive us for our failures, just as we forgive them for theirs right now.