As parents, we are always looking forward to our child’s next phase because it is rife with promise.
When they’re squalling newborns, we can’t wait until they can roll over, smile and sleep through the night. Once they’re crawling, we can’t wait for them to walk. That will be so amazing, right?
And once they start throwing the terrible two tantrums, we cannot wait for, geez, whatever comes next.
And that’s where we are at in my house. Three years old. Three is great. My daughter has ditched diapers and tantrums. She can feed herself and rarely sticks trash in her mouth. She's kind of self-sufficient, yet still tiny and squishy and adorable.
Three should be perfection.
But with 3 — or at least my daughter’s 3 — comes a fierce independence that is entirely unsupported by logic. It is this baseless form of stubborn that causes me the majority of my daily head-banging-against-the-wall.
For example, my toddler has recently discovered her fashion sense. She loves to shop for shoes and clothes, and will even throw out a supportive gasp if I decide to wear something above-and-beyond my usual mom uniform.
But she has self-imposed rules that are rigid, unyielding and absolutely nonsensical. She recently got new shoes — navy blue shoes with shiny bows and tiny hearts — that she adores. After bringing them home from the store, she proceeded to reject outfit after outfit that I presented to her — much like a peasant presenting gifts to a queen.
One was not dark enough; one was too dark. I explained that jeans match everything, but she reacted as though that was a fool’s notion. I explained that if her shirt and shoes matched, the pants could be a different color, but that was also struck down — with hardcore, wicked side eye, by the way. My girl wanted pants that were the exact shade of navy as her shoes, and anything less elicited an irrationally emotional response.
Those magical shoes ended up getting her sent to her bed because she wouldn’t stop crying over her lack of navy pants. Talk about your head-banging moment, right?
And the shoes weren’t the only accessory to get her thrown in kiddie jail. After picking out the perfect outfit that she’d received for Christmas — a black dress with shiny black tights — she refused to put on her coat before going outside. That refusal of course got her tossed in the slammer for quite some time because you don’t say no to mommy. When we went through the punishment follow-up lecture, I was ridiculous enough to ask, “Why wouldn’t you put your coat on?”
The tears came back instantly as she replied, “It doesn’t match my outfit!”
Her coat is pink and purple plaid. The kid is right.
Three is tricky, as the munchkin has one foot in an independent place and the other in a pile of toddler poo. I love that she has strong opinions and her own voice. Really. I just wish there was a little more logic mixed in.
On a random side note, does anyone know who carries navy blue pants that are more of a midnight blue? Asking for a friend.
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.