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What is the deal with ‘Terrible threes’?


Nobody talks about terrible threes. We all know about the term ‘terrible twos’ and I wonder why they didn’t think of inventing the term terrible threes. Because the truth is that after terrible twos, it doesn’t get better at all. In fact, it gets messy and terrifying when a toddler steps into the phase of threes.

Now you know why I am talking about this? I am there, you guessed it right. I can show it to you (well, in words) rather than just telling you about it.

As Wednesdays happen to be my toddler’s day at home, I always try to plan at least half the day outside, so we don’t end up pulling each other’s hair (which usually happens 80% of the time). But the problem with letting my toddler outside comes with a new set of challenges. Gone were the days when my little munchkin was a defenseless infant who would get hit by other kids often and I had to protect him all the time. Now, my major time is spent in protecting other kids because my toddler is ready to attack anytime wants to use his arms and legs effectively. Perhaps, it’s a part of being a toddler where in he gets curious to see how it feels to touch other kids or simply push them around.

But this is also the time when you want to bombard the toddler with rules which he breaks every single time. I put down my foot and made it very clear that if he were to touch or push any kid, we would return home from his usually story time session. He seemed to understand this and nodded and promised to comply by the rules. For an added measure, I had my husband also do some lecturing.

Today, when I entered the little classroom where all toddler of ages one to four come with their parents for a story time session, I whispered a silent prayer (I do that almost every Wednesdays) for a peaceful hour. The good news is that my toddler did manage not to touch, hit or push any other kid (Yay!) but the flip side is that he ended up crawling beneath the chairs (not once, but thrice), ran around the room disrupting the session, was told at least five times by the lady in charge to be seated, tried to get too close when a live animal session started and spent most of the time squirming and wriggling on the floor.

By the end of the session, I was still holding my breath almost waiting for someone to cast their dismissive frown towards me. When we were out, I couldn’t help feeling relieved. My son does a bit of running around for some more time and is clearly exhausted. But he will refuse and wail when I tell him it’s time to go home. Thus, the battle begins until we reach all the way home and continues as we struggle to get through the lunch hour. Nap time is again another battle because as much as he wants to sleep, he also feels revolted with the idea of shutting his eyes which he thinks is a waste of time.

Soon, my bucket of patience is all spent, and I am screaming like a mad woman and I remind myself to walk outside the room, so I can do some pep-talk with myself. He follows me, wailing and hurt and just looks at me and orders me – laugh mummy. Laugh mummy.

I am not laughing, I say as I glare at him, I am angry, and I don’t want to laugh right now.

Laugh mummy. Laugh mummy, he continues until I force myself to show my teeth.

There, he has diffused the situation again. Toddlers are still terrible at age three like age two, except that they have an extra level of smartness at being terrible.

Somebody tell me that there is no such thing as terrible fours.

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