My “two” sons, Leto and That Three-Year-Old.
My son has reached an age where he has become two separate children living in the same body. This was a phenomenon I was warned about, and I thought I was prepared for. But, like with so many things concerning parenthood, the reality of the situation is more challenging than I anticipated.
Most of the time, my son is a pleasant little guy. He’s happy, vocal, likes to play, and loves to laugh. He enjoys new experiences and having adventures. The kids at preschool seem to really like him, as more than one parent has told me stories of their children talking about “my friend Leto!” at home. These are the days I’m proudest to be a father, and I beam with joy at the little man my baby boy is becoming.
Then there are the days when he’s That Three-Year-Old. When asking him to do something we’ve done a thousand times in the past, like brushing his teeth or changing his clothes, turns into a screaming, flailing protest. When I get kicked in the crotch trying to put on his shoes because he suddenly doesn’t want to leave the house. When getting him to have another bite of dinner results in shrieking and more flailing. When the day stretches on so long that I have to tell myself it’s a bad idea to slap a toddler in the mouth, even as the temptation to do so rises with each flailing, shrieking tantrum.
I knew these days were coming. Everyone warns new parents about the ages between two and three years old. “The Terrible Twos” and “Threenager” are common terms used to get you ready for the ridiculous battlefields you will find yourself fighting on. But even plenty of warning can’t always prepare you for the reality of these days, especially when I’m trying to calm a shrieking three-year-old who’s freaking out because I put a shirt on him that he had picked out only moments before.
Not all the days are like this. Most of the time he’s my pleasant little buddy, and being a dad is the coolest thing in the world. And when he throws a tantrum over my choice in dinner? I have to remind myself that these days are temporary, and the trials of this age will pass.
Because dealing with a four-year-old is on the horizon.