SO when Punky turned three last year everyone said, “Oh, everybody says two is bad, blah blah, but THREE they are worse.” I can’t even tell you how many times I heard, “It’s not the terrible twos, it’s the terrifying threes!” So, like all fun mom antecedents, they never come with flowers or rainbows. No motherhood stories from other moms are not ever fairytales, but war stories. I swear, could I have gotten one nice labor and birth story when I was pregnant?
Nope. Anyway, to say I was a little concerned that my sweet, usually well tempered two year old would suddenly get a demon gripped into her little body and wreck havoc on our life, is an understatement. I was terrified for three.
But then three came and nothing really changed. She had a sassy mouth and a big personality, sure. She was a little spoiled, probably a lot entitled and yet, still there wasn’t much for her to tantrum about.
We have been the kind of parents who talk to Punky. About everything. We talk it out, we discuss, we reason. It’s why she could tell me she was frustrated when she was two and ask for help. She literally said, “Mommy, I’m FR-uster-ated! Can you help me?” So there was not real tantrum, maybe a yelling match or a stomping the feet, some pouting. I won’t say she was an angel, but she was a pretty good kid with probably 95% of the time, a sweet, loving, kind little girl.
***Cue the last couple weeks***
She will be four in March, meaning she has been three for 10 whole months. Without too much issue. Then suddenly, every day is THREE. I totally get it. But I wish it would have happened sooner. It’s like she has held in her three-ness and suddenly its combusted and it’s leaking out by the gallons and exploding all over her moms, the house, the world.
I swear, I say one little thing and she’s gone down stairs for “alone time” (which is really just her self induced time out). Just the other day I said, “Love, be careful on the chair, you will bonk you head.” and she looked at me like she took it as a personal insult that came out of my mouth and hurtled at her at lightning speed. To which she crossed her arms, gave me a very hurt look and stomped off to her bedroom.
Leaving me looking at her like she’s lost her damn mind, because I don’t know what I said to offend her.
When she’s not huffy, pouting or whiny; she’s outright mean. Like full demon child mean. I don’t know where this came from! She’s not in daycare, she’s not in school, she’s barely around other kids her age, and we certainly don’t talk to each other the way she talks to us right now.
Oh and the hitting! Goodness gracious, if we tell her no or we take something from her because she’s done something wrong, look out for flying fists, swinging feet and the ever so awesome attempt to bite enabled. (AND she’s never bit anyone in her life, unless she’s been mad. She wasn’t a biter as a baby.)
Most recently, we have had a severe regression in the potty training. We’ve been potty training for over a year. She was doing really well. In the last couple weeks to a month, she’s decided she doesn’t need to pee in the potty anymore and just pisses on everything and anything that isn’t the potty.
It’s frustrating as hell and I’m trying my best not to enact the spanking tactic that older generations used. I pride myself in not shaming her, trying to be understanding and being as patient as I can. But when this kid stands in the middle of the living room floor, 2 minutes after I asked her to go to the bathroom and she argued she didn’t need to, and then pisses right there on the floor, my patience is at the end of the rope.
She looks cute right?! SO sweet. Think again. LOL!
So we have a rule that she starts the day with underwear, if she pees in them throughout the day, she must wear a pullup the rest of the day. She hates pullups. So when she pees in her underwear and I start for the pullup, she’s yelling how she didn’t know and Mommy is mean and she’s not fair. Of course, I just reply with “you know the rules and we will try again tomorrow.”
At quiet time before she goes to bed, she gets to have her tablet if she hasn’t peed in her pants all day. Night before last, she peed on the floor right before quiet time and was informed she didn’t get to have her tablet. She began hit me in quick succession. Of course, it was more like a toddler slap fight that I wasn’t participating in. Then she kicked my shin. I told her it was bedtime and we needed to change her clothes.
We marched down to her room (Luckily, I didn’t have to carry her down the stairs kicking and screaming this time). While on her bed, putting her arms through her nightgown she lunged at me ….. with her MOUTH. Like a tiny little piranha. She’s screaming how I’m a mean mommy and she hates me and I’m not a nice girl. All while trying her very best to bite me. To the point where I pulled my arm away and she’s grabbing at my arm with her hands to bring it to her gnashing mouth like she’s ready to tear into the flesh of a turkey leg! Wild eyes and all.
I finally got her dressed, didn’t attempt the hug or kiss, because goodness I didn’t want to get close enough to lose an ear. I said goodnight and I love you, to which she retorted “I hate you, mean mommy” accompanied by a blood curdling scream. I closed the door and waited outside.
She says the meanest shit behind her bedroom door. I’m not sure if she says it because she knows I’m out there or she does it because she thinks if the door is shut, I can’t hear the stuff coming out of her little mouth.
Like, I don’t know where she gets the angry words she says in there, but I let her go until I hear her come to the door, open it and try to escape. I simply point at the bed and say, “It’s bedtime.” She gets pissed and starts the hitting all over. It’s like a damn ball of fire has ignited and it doesn’t stop til she’s all burned out.
I pick her up this time and put her back in her bed. She’s kicking me by this time and trying to hit me in the face. It’s very difficult to restrain little hands and carry a child safely back to the bed. All while trying really hard not to smack the shit out of her and keep my composure and patience.
After a few more rounds of that, she gives up, because really, Mommy is bigger and more stubborn than she is. She’s climbs in bed and once she’s able to talk to me, I will sit on her bed, hug her close and tell her I love her even when she’s mad.
“I’m just upset Mommy!” I will nod my head and say, “I know, my love. And it’s ok to be upset. But it’s not ok to hit your moms or bite them.” she snuggles closer and replies, “I know. I was just upset. I’m sorry.”
I tell her I love her, tuck her into bed and remind her to stay in her bed unless she’s got to pee. And she does that. Usually. All cried out and exhausted, I think, she simply passes out.
I tell that story, because last night, we had a similar incident. Its happened so frequently with the potty training regression that I’m prepared for it, waiting for it. I can basically feel the tantrum boiling up inside her until it explodes all over me.
My little princess is about to be possessed by the angry demon inside her tiny body!
Last night, she had gone all day without an ‘accident’ (for lack of a better word, because I really don’t think they are accidents) and she was allowed to take her tablet to quiet time. About 30 minutes into quiet time, I hear her cry out and her tiny voice is dismayed and upset. The whining started and I knew ….. she peed herself.
I sighed, and waited. Yup, Kim called me downstairs and I told Punky to give Mama back the tablet that she can’t have it anymore. She was so mad, she screamed and yelled. I went to get her new clothes and when I came back, she had relinquished the tablet. Not without a barrage of mean words or screaming, but thus far had not hit anyone or thrown anything.
I braced myself for the worst when I bent down to put her underwear on her, expecting her to smack me in the head or something. Nothing happened, she just said, “I hate you and mama. You are not my favorite mommy.” to which I said, “I understand, love.”
She said, “I’m mad at you!” I said, “I know, love.” She responded with “I hate you and I don’t like you!” I said, “I love you even when you’re mad.”
She headed to her bed, climbed in and I thought, I don’t reward the good stuff enough. I know she just pissed in the middle of her bedroom floor, but she didn’t HIT me or BITE me – that’s something.
So, I sat down with her and said, “You peed on your floor and you know you shouldn’t have. SO you can’t have your tablet tonight.”
“I know. I’m mad about that.”
“I know you are mad, but do you know what you’re not doing?”
“You are using your words and not your fists. You aren’t hitting anyone. See, you can be mad and upset, but you don’t have to hit people.” I kissed her on the cheek and said, “I will let you watch one movie before bed, because you handled your anger appropriately.
Kim of course said, “Didn’t she just say she hated us?!”
And she did. But for me, I want Punky to know she can tell me when she’s mad at me, I want her to feel comfortable talking to me about anything, including those negative feelings and emotions she might have. So, for me, I would prefer she said mean words, than lash out with violence.
So, it was a win last night in my book. Hopefully, it will spark a change in her dealing with her anger, because it’s tough being three. I sure hope four is better. (Cue the horror stories……)