Once upon a time, Shem and I got married. And riiiiight after we got married (surprise!) we found out we were expecting! Even though I was a little nervous and worried about how our baby would change our plans, I was beyond thrilled. I'd always, always, always wanted to be a mama and from the very beginning, I couldn't wait to meet my Luke.
But then, something happened that would scar me for years to come: right at the very beginning of my pregnancy, Shem and I were given callings at church to work with the three-year-old class in primary. (dun, dun, duuuuun... Sunbeams) It was then that I made a startling and terrifying discovery: I do not like three-year-olds. At all. And I'm sorry if you have a three-year-old who is super precious and awesome, I promise it's nothing personal and as SOON as they turn four (maybe five...) I'll like them again, but for now, I'm just not a fan. (Disclaimer: I have been known on occasion to like certain three-year-olds. Almost without fail, those ones have been girl ones. But if you have a three-year-old, just assume that he/she is probably an exception and I really love him/her. *butIreallyprobablydon't*)
So. This was a problem for the following reasons:
1. I had to figure out how to not hate church because for a two hour period every single Sunday, I had to figure out how to get a room full of THREE-YEAR-OLD children to sit still and be reverent and learn about Jesus. For two hours. While I was also puking intermittently because I was GROWING A FUTURE THREE-YEAR-OLD. Which brings us to number
2. I don't know if you people have made this connection yet or not, but in the very moment that I discovered that I didn't like three-year-olds, I also realized that the very precious life growing inside me would...in time...become a three-year-old.
Suddenly, life hit a fast-forward button and brought me here. To this place. Where I sit next to my three-year-old. Who is watching Caillou. Who is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with three-year-olds. Which is worrisome, because I'm pretty sure that Caillou is actually four. Will it ever end??
Okay, and granted, it's true that the fact that Luke is MY three-year-old makes just about everything better about our interactions, but it does not make it easier. In some ways, it makes it harder because. He lives with me. And I have to keep him alive. And psychologically undamaged. 24/7. As opposed to two hours once a week.
Slowly, ever so slowly, behaviors have begun making their terrifying appearance in our lives that suggest that he is everyday becoming more and more three and less and less two. Examples, you ask?
Yesterday, he decided green beans were the end of his life. Thirty minutes the battle raged on between Luke and Mama and...Luke won. How? How could a kid out-stubborn me, you ask? Oh, because he puked up all of his lunch. So we got to clean up barf after having already waged war for half and hour! And he STILL never ate the last green bean! Hooray!
Another example? Glad you asked.
Today, he decided it would be really funny to hide my phone between the couch cushions. "Luke, keep mama's phone on top of the couch, please." To which Luke responded by making purposeful eye contact with me, pausing for about a minute and then shoving the phone deeper into the cushions with an expression that clearly said, "You don't know me. You don't know my life." and I think he flipped me off with his eyes.
So that's my life now. Also, saving Samuel from traumatic experiences involving big brother's on top of him every five minutes. And saying 'no' so many times, it has stopped sounding like a word. And sighing Luke's name more times than I say Luke's name. It's good times!
BUT! We've had several break throughs over the last couple of days. I feel like I'm going to be a seasoned pro by the time we go through this stage with Samuel. Which is really a good thing because by the look of it, Samuel is going to be about fifty times as stubborn and strong-willed as Luke is.
-I'm getting the hang of the whole 'deep breath and count to ten' concept and I didn't raise my voice ONE time today. Which I really think made all the difference because Luke had a pretty excellent day today compared to previous days when I've lost it... Sigh. Good thing kids are so resilient because patience, unfortunately, takes practice.
-I tried a modified version of an idea my dad gave me to help him feel like trying a scary looking food wasn't so intimidating and it totally worked! He ate lunch AND dinner today and we barely had a fight over it. I was so excited, I almost cried. Because guys. The pasta literally was green because it was avocado sauce and broccoli. AND HE ATE IT!
-I've realized that I need to think about him more positively thanks to some ideas my mom gave me indirectly. So I've been working extra hard at pointing out all his wonderful qualities and making a big deal out of the things he does that are good. (And dang it, I'm telling you, there's never been a better three-year-old sharer. He's got that down. Mostly.)
-I read some articles that gave a lot of good ideas for how to talk to your toddler and remembered how important it is to give pre-schoolers choices so they can feel empowered in their world. I also got new ideas about how/when to offer choices. I feel like I have more tools in my belt now.
Luke is SUCH a good boy. Even as a three-year-old. He's just so smart and so capable and he's lots of fun to watch grow. I am head-over-heels for that kid and I'm excited to make it through this year alive and well. He's so responsive when I figure out what it is he needs and he's really pretty easy to figure out. I'm so grateful for the internet at times like these because after dedicating nap-time to doing research, I feel like he's exuding completely age-appropriate behaviors and that developmentally, he's right on track. And I have a deepened understanding as to the why behind his behaviors which helps me navigate through them.
Who knows? Maybe as I get to know what makes my three-year-old tick, I'll be better equipped to deal with other people's three-year-olds and it'll make me love them!