When my daughter turned two I was ready for the worst. I mentally prepared myself for the “terrible twos” and put myself into battle mode. Adi had a few tantrums here and there but in reality her terrible twos weren’t that terrible. I thought I got off easy and that my mad parenting skills cured my child of any terrible twos that might have happened. I was wrong. Horrifically terrifyingly stupendously wrong.
We have entered the terrible threes.
A few weeks ago my almost three year old had a three hour long temper tantrum. She stomped her feet. She screamed at the top of her lungs. She threw herself into walls and flailed around on the floor. Why? What horrible things happened that made her scream like she was being waterboarded?
We didn’t go to brunch. That was the whole tantrum. Adi wanted to go to brunch and we weren’t going to brunch (we had just gotten back from a carnival). I explained why we didn’t go to brunch. I told her we would go next weekend. I offered to make her eggs for lunch. No. She wanted brunch at the restaurant and she wasn’t going to stop screaming until she got it.
I didn’t give in. I couldn’t give in. Even though I would have given ANYTHING to have that child stop screaming, I didn’t give in. If I give in I’ll end up with a spoiled brat. The kind of spoiled brat you see at 10 years old pitching a fit at the store because she didn’t get what she wanted. I’ve seen those kids. I hate those kids. Even though I have never thought to hit my child I secretly wish for parents to start beating those children. I refuse to have a spoiled child. I CANNOT GIVE IN.
Once, when Adi was an infant, my grandfather mentioned the terrible threes. I thought he misspoke and meant twos but I didn’t ask him about it. If he were still alive right now I’d be hiding in his apartment. The terrible threes are scary.
The terrible threes make the terrible twos look like afternoon tea with the pope.
How are the terrible threes worse? Well for starters, Adi is bigger now. I’m a tiny person and Adi is big for her age. There’s actually only 22 inches between me and her. When she flails and kicks it HURTS. She can also talk now- in complete sentences. She can reason with me. When I disagree with her and say no to what she wants she gets angry. Two tantrums were just sad. Three tantrums are pure rage.
I don’t have a plan for terrible threes. Just getting through it without Adi killing anyone- that’s the plan. Parenting books are no match for Adi- she’s smarter than the books. That’s why the threes suck so much. I can’t trick Adi anymore. I can’t lie and say the restaurant is closed or they ran out of eggs. The only thing I can do is assert my authority. Unfortunately, Adi is related to me and doesn’t take well to people asserting their authority.
Luckily I only have to deal with a tantrum every few weeks. When they do happen I try to just walk away and let her wear herself out. That usually doesn’t work however because three tantrums also involve Adi following me around screaming instead of just sitting and crying like she did when she was two. I try to laugh. The sight of her trying to convince me to do something while stomping her feet is pretty funny.
But really I’m laughing because I thought the terrible part was over.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.