It goes without fail that every single time I write about how terrific one of my kids has been acting that said kid immediately turns into a complete lunatic. So I should have known better than to brag about how great my daughter has been lately because, sure thing, she immediately hit the brakes on awesome and took a turn towards the dreaded Threens. Suddenly she is an emotional wreck, sobbing giant crocodile tears for the most specious of reasons. How dare I take a picture of her with my iPhone! (Her head would explode if she saw my Instagram account.) Getting her dressed in anything other than a swimsuit — um, it’s March, girl — is impossible. Last night she refused to eat the same homemade pizza I’ve cooked for her a million times, telling me “Your pizza is NOT good” and then rolling her eyes so hard that they stuck for a few seconds. (Checkmate, Liz Lemon.)
Even worse, all of my standard toddler parenting maneuvers — redirection, empathy, offering discrete choices — have been rendered suddenly useless. I can’t get her to do anything and I’m finding myself vacillating between surrender and über-strictness. Ordinarily if my daughter helped herself to a carrot from the vegetable display at the market, I’d take it away and explain we don’t eat food until we’ve paid for it. But yesterday? Laissez-Faire Mom left her alone and was just happy she ate an actual vegetable.
Mommy Dearest came out this week, too, when my daughter trashed her room during quiet time. I’m talking PullUp torn off, multiple pee puddles on the carpet, and clothing and toys strewn everywhere. (Again.) I immediately confiscated every toy in the room to be earned back with good behavior while my daughter sobbed uncontrollably.
Of course, none of this is working. My daughter is still an obstinate, emotional mess and I am FRUSTRATED. Some days I think the answer is committing to new parenting techniques and working even harder at being a good mother. Then there are other days when I think I should just keep my head down and my powder dry while I wait for this phase to pass.
Priss & Vinegar would love to hear from survivors of Threenager-dom because, uh, clearly I’m at a loss. What did you do to keep your kid on track and yourself sane during this notoriously-challenging stage?