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Season Of The Three Year Old, Part Two

Warning: Not everything that you are about to read is true.  (A full confession is available at the end of the post.)

I may have spoken rashly yesterday about the challenges of a three year old.

Not rashly, but, one-sided, maybe?

Yesterday, I mentioned that I do not find it easier to train up my fourth 3 year old, even though one would think that I had amassed some knowledge and experience from the years with her older siblings.

Today I’ll concede that there are aspects of raising the current 3 year old that are different, because of the ones who came before her.

It’s easier, now, to laugh at the outrageous acts of a Very Small Person.

Well, we laugh secretly, the kids and Mr. Darcy and I, so she doesn’t think we think what she does is funny.  Make sense?

I took these moments a little too seriously the first few go-arounds with my other three year olds.

Example of recent outrageous act and the follow-up secret laughter.

I pass by Very Small Person’s room.

Small Person calls out, “I didn’t eat anything.”

I pause, retract my steps and turn to look at the Person-Who-Didn’t-Eat-Anything.

Oozing around the outside of her mouth is fresh, moist chocolate.

I breathe deeply and go in.

“What did you eat?” I ask Small Person.

“I didn’t eat anything,” she repeats with eyes the size of  birthday balloons.

I take stock of the room, a room shared by the Person-Who-Didn’t-Eat-Anything and her two older sisters. I head toward the closet.

“I ate some of Mookie’s bunny,” her confession ushers out fast and worried.

I locate the now empty box that originally contained a solid milk chocolate bunny the size of my hand.

Evidence seems to show that the entire bunny has been consumed by the Small Person and the older sister is not going to think it’s funny.

Looking with one last hope under piles of clothes and toys for the plastic insert, I find the plastic and 95% of the chocolate bunny still intact, thrown hastily aside by the Person-Who-Did-Not-Eat-Anything.  

I turn to my Dear Small Person and see that in her chocolately hands she’s holding up a new shirt retrieved from her drawer, “I like this shirt better, Mama.”

At my feet I also spot the t-shirt worn previous to the non-eating event and realize it’s been thrown off because there’s chocolate on it.

The giggles have been gathering together and now lay beneath my surface like a rocket balloon about to be released.

I try a composed statement, “Honey, you can’t eat your sister’s Easter bunny.”

The words come out but some of the giggles spill out too.

This isn’t working. I leave her in her room with the gate on and run out to tell her sister.  Once her big sister is assured that only a quarter inch of solid bunny was “not eaten”, we release the giggles into the open (out of ear shot of the guilty party).

I breathe and collect myself and put on my stern mommy face.  I go and talk to Small Person about the seriousness of eating other’s people’s chocolate bunnies.  And I take her in to apologize to her big sister.

Strangely Mookie keeps her back to us as the Small Person apologizes, her big sister shoulders bounce up and down, dancing with mirth.  She gives a muffled, “You’re forgiven.”

The ability to laugh derives from a realization that most of these outrageous moments will pass.

Over time we’ll teach her about respect, and obedience and lying (sometimes we’ll do a better job than other times), but she will not always behave exactly like this.  It helps to have already seen a little further down the road.

Confession of the Untrue Parts:

When I wrote this it felt entirely true.  The  bunny story is true, as is the general principal that I can laugh more easily eleven years into mamahood.  But as I wrote this post and my three year old remained awake in her bed at 11pm, many hours after the laughter had petered out and the tired, zoned out phase (of the parents) arrived, what I was trying to capture in words felt less true.  Yes, perspective gives way for laughter and laughter releases some tension. But right now it also seems true that fifteen more years of experience wouldn’t make this season, albeit temporary, any less exhausting. Sometimes I can laugh, sometimes nothing seems funny at all.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go talk to a Very Small Person who is still awake in her bed.

I can’t end the three year old stories here, however.

Because with the rather inconvenient demand for total independence by a Very Small Person, also comes unclipped Curiosity, Joy, and Love.

Next time, I’ll tell some absolutely true stories about that.

To catch the first past in this three part series, click here.

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