Terrible Threes

When you have a baby with you, you are the property of the public at large. They will stop you and speak to you and make sure you know how they feel. (I had forgotten this until recently. Now everyone, be it young children or old men, must tell me that my baby is cute. As if they are concerned that I haven’t noticed. Don’t worry, everyone. I have. She’s super cute. Even the other day when I got on the bus with Tessa in the Bjorn, the bus driver snuck a hand over to touch her little foot. Babies are like tiny tractor beams. Seriously.)

When Graham wasn’t even a year old, he and I were stuck in the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight out. One woman in the airport asked how old he was, I told her he was going to turn 1 soon. She said 1 is sweet. And she said 2 is good, too. “Don’t believe people about the terrible twos,” she said. “It’s three. That’s what you have to look out for.”

I’ve never forgotten that. And I’ve heard it plenty of times since.

Two is pretty great. They know they word “no” and they know how to throw tantrums, but they have yet to discover the heights they can reach with these tools.

Three is starting to rear its ugly head. We are one month away from a certain Bug’s birthday and I am already concerned that it’s going to get rough.

While he still has many of his sweet two year old behaviors, they are turning into three year old misbehaviors. Sure, he is quite polite when he says, “No, I am not,” but he sure is saying it a lot more than he used to. And we go much more quickly from one slightly worried “No, Mom” to the I-am-on-the-verge-of-death “NO MOM NO NO NO!”

Instead of “Milk, please?” now we’re hearing lots of “Mommy do it.” The “Mommy do it” is used in reference to pretty much everything, including but not limited to providing food and drink, cleaning up, getting a toy, going to bed, etc.

I am getting a little bit concerned about all our reward systems. He is starting to have a rather unhealthy obsession with his treats. And he likes them all. Ice cream, donuts, cake, fruit, chocolate, candy, lollipops, gummies, M&Ms, you name it he wants it. Apparently you are not supposed to do this stuff with your kids, though no one mentioned that to me until we already had it in place. I don’t know who the authority is that decides this stuff, but it worked with our ABA-style approach and our therapists okay’d everything so I am hoping it doesn’t lead to him being spoiled. Or candy-obsessed. I just picked up a book of Thomas stickers, so I’m planning to try and use those as incentives when possible.

On the other hand, he is still a veggie-loving fiend. He is practically vegan. And a lover of raw food. Peppers, cucumbers, carrots, peas, apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries. It is hard to get him to eat other things. (Except for treats or pretzel goldfish.) So I don’t worry too much about his nutrition. Mostly.

He can draw circles and squares. He can count to 10. He likes to sing the alphabet song. His smarts are definitely there. He’s also learning how to bend the rules.

He doesn’t always respond well to commands but the real problem is dealing with restrictions. As soon as you say, “Do not-” he’s already started tuning you out. Since ABA is based largely on rewarding for tasks completed, I’m kind of at a loss about how to respond when Graham violates a rule.

Yesterday I did our first time-out. It’s all I can think to do. I’m trying to be clear in what I say and quick in how I respond, but it’s going to be trial by error. I think the baby books say to start disciplining at 18 months, but with therapy we haven’t had to do much yet.

This morning I was talking about discipline with our therapist and we’re probably going to move to a reward chart and I got some advice on dealing with the time outs.

It’s still foreign to me. While Graham has a lot of the typical toddler outbursts and crazies, he has usually been so well behaved, in large part because of the routines and rewards of therapy. I know how much of a debt I owe to them in so many ways. But now we have to get ready to leave that behind.

I haven’t given much thought yet to the reality of full-day preschool 5 days a week, which Graham is going to start in September. I’ve been able to observe his therapy for months and it’s going to be strange to have so much of his day spent away from me. I’ve thought mostly about how I’ll have more freedom in my day to schedule it as I see fit. But I haven’t thought about how much I will miss my Grammer.

We’re going to be entering a new frontier. Three years old. Preschool.

The world of three is something I don’t feel prepared for. But then again, what have I ever felt prepared for with this kid?

Tell me you don't see plans to take over the world in that sneaky face.



  1. Rosey says

    Three’s an awesome age…the imagination and enthusiasm alone make it a year to remember. 🙂 Have fun, your little one is a real cutie!

  2. Jenny says

    Our 2-year-old is all about the terrible part of terrible 2’s a good deal of the time – some things are a teensy bit better with therapy, but we have a long way to go to manage his tantrums when he doesn’t get his way – or for mysterious sensory overload issues that we don’t understand, mainly due to his lack of verbal skills.
    I am dreading the 3-year-old preschool thing in a big, big, big way. I think his behavior might be getting better by then, with increased therapy (I hope anyway) – but there’s going to be some HUGE transitional issues then. Oy.

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