We’ve all heard it, the terrible twos, threenagers, fierce fours, all about toddlerhood. Every parent is warned about it: two is bad, but just wait until three, it’s so much worse. We fear it, the unknown of our cute baby turning into this little toddler heathen with the tantrums, fights, and oh, the potty training! All of it could lead to any parent wanting to run for the hills or adding to their wine collection. It’s an age of transition, growth, and learning.
But, I’ve found toddlerhood to be my favorite season so far on my parenting journey. When our little guy turned three, it was like a light switch. He was vocal, expressing his emotions way more dramatically, and his baby face looked like a little boy. He was over the top curious, asking questions, and very vocally saying no to items he didn’t like or want.
I took a deep breath, and we dove into him being a 3-year-old. Things that were hard in the previous years have become easier. He is able to express when he is hungry, or not for that matter. He is able to express his feelings with our help and the basic understanding of sad, mad, and happy. It can be hard for him to completely understand, but when he’s able to express himself, you can see his eyes light up. He’s able to say when he needs to get to the bathroom, wants to play, or read. He is able to tell us what hurts if something is bothering him.
He is eager to help, from feeding the dogs to doing the dishes and even sweeping the floor. His brain is a sponge, and it amazes me how much he learns every single day.
Now don’t get me wrong, he’s used our own words against us. Like the time I was in another room and told him yes to having a cookie. My husband in the kitchen was telling him no. I came in to clarify what was said— our son looked at his daddy and said, “calm down, calm down.” Then there was the time we said, “Hey, stop chasing the dog,” only to get a reply from our toddler, “hay is for horses!” But there are the sweet moments when I’ve coughed, and he asks, “momma, you okay?”
Three is a tough age as much for them as it is for us, their parents. They’re trying to navigate emotions, and we’re trying to be patient. They’re fighting for their independence, and we’re watching while holding our breath. Their brains are going a mile a minute, and their mouths are unable to keep up, as we’re left trying to piece together a story, a question, or a sentence. Their curiosity is at an all-time high when the question “why?” is asked after almost every answer we attempt to give them.
For all parents, communication is hard at this age. Tiny brains are still forming, and emotions are high but compared to the guessing of why he is crying or what is hurting from when he was a baby, this side, for me, is so much better. The icing on the cake was when I said, “good night, I love you,” and he responded, “I love you too, Momma.”