So I’ve figured out a couple of things since I last wrote about my “killer” pre-Threenager. First, I’m starting to realize that there are a mountain of alternate explanations for my daughter’s crappy behavior. We’ve been living like downright gypsies, going from our San Francisco home to crashing at my parents’ place in Danville while our home was on the market, only to return for another few weeks to a completely-staged house that looks nothing like it used to, with intermittent visits to the new Piedmont house and her other grandparents’ home in Sonoma. (Whew.) She also recently transitioned from a crib to a big girl bed (her idea, and oh yeah, that climbing thing), her little brother is mobile and starting to steal her stuff, and 80% of her toys are in storage. Frankly, she wouldn’t be normal if this *didn’t* wig her out.
Second (and I’m not proud to admit this), I’ve realized her Threenage behavior bothers me so intensely because it makes me feel like I’m failing her. When my normally-happy kid is spiraling out of control into a weepy, bratty mess and all of my parenting techniques are suddenly useless, I can’t see where else to point the finger. (Except my husband, and yeah, it’s totally his fault, too.) This sucks not only because, well — who likes failing? — but also because I’m making this all about me when it should be about my kid and what *she* needs. (Ouch.)
So I’m taking all of your wonderful advice (most of which entails grabbing a helmet and a bottle of wine) and I’ve started seeing some small improvements. We’re getting her more exercise and letting her get messy in a safe environment. (Living in a house that has to stay pristine for its new owners must be hard on a kid.) We’re reestablishing some semblance of normalcy at mealtime (all those bribery cookies were pumping her full of sugar) and bedtime (as in, you know, actually having one). We’re far from banishing the Threen behavior, but my kid is smiling again and her attitude has most certainly improved. The same sweet nanny she called “a monster” last week received an unprompted “I love you!” when she arrived this morning, and neither the baby nor I have been called “poopy” in nearly a week. Uh, progress?