I haven’t blogged in a while. It could perhaps be down to the strains of a beast that descended upon our household in the last month or so: The Threenager. This lesser-seen breed of preschooler was not invited, is not at all welcome and won’t bloody leave. I couldn’t quite tell you the day he came into our lives, but he took over the mind, body and spirit of my sweet, caring and loving three year old and caused him to become an argumentative, belligerent and moody little
On paper, it should be Monster Minor that is the infuriating one; he hits, he thieves, he shouts expletives in church and he makes inappropriate, intimate comments to women. But he does that with such charm and flair that you can’t help but smile wryly. But poor old Monster Major was already vulnerable to Threenager grips. He’s an emotional rollercoaster on the best of days and is just like his Mummy in that you can’t speak to him before he’s pounded a coffee in the morning (or in his case, a ‘nice, warm, blue, little milk’).
I perhaps should’ve seen it coming. He’d not had the terriblest of twos and was becoming fairly amicable as a human being. I could never say life was easy, but he certainly wasn’t throwing curve balls every second.
The Threenager infected him slowly and, at first, mornings were the only time he displayed symptoms. It began with small blasts of tears over relatively rational things such as being unable to pull the covers up to his chin because he was incredibly cold in his pjs, under a duvet and in a bed of four people. Only to very quickly announce he was ‘TOOOO WAAAARRRRMMM’ and proceed to sob and do nothing about it. Or being given Shreddies because he had asked for them, but then silently changed his mind to porridge and the telepathic message never reached us. Or the classic, orange spoon but not that orange spoon, the other orange spoon and WHY CAN’T YOU JUST FUCKING EAT YOUR BREAKFAST LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING, FOR FLIPS SAKE!?
However, the condition worsened and the Threenager began to skulk into other areas of Monster Major’s life. A major symptom seemed to be an attack of mild megalomania; he decided he reigned supreme over Monster Minor, and Monster Minor being a miniature dictator himself, refused to comply. Cue meltdowns, squabbles, fisticuffs, and telling-tales of epic proportions. A good mum would have calmly got down to their level and listened to both sides of the story. A good mum would have talked to the boys about how to peacefully solve their problems with love and maturity. A good mum would have reassured them with cuddles, kisses and positive affirmations. This mum screamed that she was drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the room and if either child dared to cross it, look at the other one or, heaven forbid, speak to the other, they would be on the thinking spot until they were five.
The Threenager has a massive issue with any authority that isn’t his own. As a child of a teacher, this causes a bit of a problem for Monster Major. You see, I’m a bit of a stickler for respecting authority when it’s deserved, and, whilst I understand it’s imperative to raise children with a value of their own voice, I feel that The Threenager abuses that right. For example, upon being politely asked ‘Please drink your water sensibly,’ The Threenager has been known to burst into wails of ‘But I am. I am. But I am doing. I AM!!!‘ This will be screamed whilst being nowhere near the water. I know he is wrong. He probably knows he’s wrong. But he’s so affronted at being expected to do something by somebody else, that he’d rather drown his own ship than have it sunk by the enemy. The screams often descend into a chaotic wrestle down from the table and onto his bottom ‘for a think about how to behave and how to speak to people’. We then usually repeat this little dance with the hot issues of: not waving cutlery around, not speaking with his mouth full, not poking his brother, not shouting at his brother and not touching his bottom during dinner. But given The Threenager is answerable to himself and himself alone, these rather reasonable etiquette requests are met with bawls and buts by the bucket load.
I believe The Threenager must cause its victims to become a little more
fucking manipulative intelligent. The Threenager understands social norms and understands how to abuse these to his benefit. Simple hand holding can now be met with shrieks of ‘You’re hurting me!’, befitting the freedom of Monster Major from parental clutches. ‘Stop pushing me!’ is howled after gentle ushering, leaving Monster Major to meander whichever way he chooses. And the best: ‘STOP SHOUTING, STOP SHOUTING AT ME!’ (I wasn’t even speaking) to just generally make me die a little inside. He knows that hollering phrases like this in public, gets him whatever he wants because, as much as I don’t want to give into this pint-size autocrat, I also can’t deal with the stares and mutters in the middle of Asda Living.
Some days, we feel like Monster Major may be recovering from his bout of The Threenager. We occasionally have a morning where he doesn’t elbow anyone, cry or accuse his brother of conspiring against him to take up an extra 4mm of bed space. He might come down and say chirpy things like ‘It’s a sunny day today,’ ‘Shall we have a snack?’ or ‘I feel like today won’t be a horrible day!’ But then I cut his cherry tomatoes so that he doesn’t choke, and suddenly that’s a heathen thing to do, and all hell breaks lose and before you know it, we’re all crying on the kitchen floor and Monster Minor has eaten all the shitting tomatoes.
I take a lot of comfort in knowing that other families have had their little ones afflicted by The Threenager. I know that sounds sadistic, but knowing we don’t have a civilisation full of grown up Threenager gives me hope that this is a phase. Granted, there are many Trump-esque characters out there and part of my frustration with the descent of The Threenager, is the fear that it’s moulding my adorable little one into a Trumpite of the future. This is why I continue to challenge The Threenager’s solicitations for senseless tyranny. I wish I was a good mum who could patiently ride the waves, but I find myself setting out to surf in them, only to trip, fall, swallow a shitload of saltwater and be washed up on shore, dazed, grubby and wondering how I got there.
To all families out there fighting an attack of The Threenager, I salute you!