My son is about to turn 3.
Let me rephrase this, my son and the demon that possess him are about to turn 3.
“Demon?” you may ask. “You’ve been through this age twice before, how bad can it be?” As we speak he is throwing a fit because his sock is askew, which is kind of a relief because just a moment ago he was throwing a fit because his brothers did not want to play with him… because he was throwing a fit.
Parenting a 3-year-old is Sisyphean really…
The Bible describes this period as “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” I’m pretty sure they were actually speaking of hell, but the comparisons are a little too close to ignore.
Allow me to illustrate.
6 p.m. – Arrive home from work, warmly greeted by all sons. Blood pressure = 108/60
6:05 p.m. – Toddler throws first fit because dad casually greets mom rather than immediately playing castle. Blood pressure = 118/70
6:10 p.m. – Sitting down to dinner, toddler throws fit due to play interruption. Blood pressure = 130/75
6:35 p.m. – Dinner complete, toddler throws new fit because he is hungry…hungry due to fit thrown during dinner interfering with the actual eating of dinner. Blood pressure = 150/80
7 p.m. – Time for jammies and stories…go ahead and insert a random tantrum here as well. Blood pressure = 180/110
Every child goes through this period, and I will admit this is the period of my children’s lives when I am not at my best as a father. My patience falters, at first with my inability to calm my child and then with my inability for any of us to find any peace. I also struggle with not losing my patience with everyone else, sometimes more successfully than others.
I wish I could say my demeanor was always like Mr. Rogers, but Major Dad may be a little more accurate during this stage. Nothing highlights your imperfections as a parent quite like a screaming toddler.
But this is a stage every child goes through and every parent endures. Soon enough he will pass this developmental stage and enter another, which will also have its challenges. Even though I am not perfect and my patience comes and goes, my job is to love him and help him through this time of his life… preferably without listing him on eBay.
Honestly, there will probably be parts of this time that I miss…until his baby sister turns three.
Chris Donnelly is married with four children. You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
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