Do not let this sweet face fool you; three-year-olds are masters of deception.
Ok, I’m going to need to ramble for a second because THREE YEAR OLDS, holy god.
Here is what just happened: I walked my daughter to preschool, as usual. As usual, she wanted to touch “the fluffy thing” (one of the fuzzy reeds that grows alongside the road in a particular spot along our route). So we did. And then we touched “the red thing” (an aloe flower). Then we went on our merry way, and just as we pulled up to school she burst into tears.
We touched the fluffy thing, you see, but not the other fluffy thing. Which absolutely needed to be touched. Could we go back?! We could not.
I’m not sure when the hysteria over the other fluffy thing segued into a more generalized hysteria ping-ponging between topics in search of a focal point upon which to rest (we didn’t bring the sparkle sneakers/is there cheese in the backpack/still haven’t touched the other fluffy thing), but we eventually ended up honing in on the fact that I had not parked the stroller on the sidewalk, but had instead parked the stroller in the driveway, two feet away from the sidewalk. She didn’t want to walk from there, she wanted to walk from the sidewalk. Could we go back?!
We could not.
And I’m not just tossing around the word “hysteria” willy-nilly – by this point, I was dealing with a child who had fully left the Planet Sanity. She ended up doing this full-body bucking-bronco thing that left me physically unable to hold on to her (or put her into the stroller, or put her on the ground, or put her into the school so that someone else could deal with her instead of me). A woman jogging by actually stopped to ask me if I needed help. (Yes, clearly, but I said no because I wanted to convey that despite appearances – and reality – I totally had it under control.)
Did I mention it’s pouring rain? And that the rain started three minutes after I left the house, said out loud, “What a beautiful morning!” and decided not to bring my umbrella?
We have all been this mom.
So here’s my question: What was I supposed to do here? What would you have done?? Look, obviously it would have taken me three minutes to walk back up the street to touch “the other fluffy thing.” It would have taken me fifteen seconds to roll the stroller back to the sidewalk so she could walk up to the school from that spot instead of the terrible, horrible spot her terrible, horrible mother had chosen to park the stroller in. But…I mean…I can’t do that. …Right? Because then the next day it’ll be something else, and then yet another thing, and then before you know it I will have raised one of those children who sends back tap water in a restaurant because it’s the wrong temperature.
…Or maybe I should have sweetly and calmly done the thing she needed me to do for whatever reason, because she’s three and one must pick one’s battles.
Oh AND. How this all ended was with me turning into Angry Mom – of course – and using my Angry Mom voice to tell her that she couldn’t go on the field trip today if she was going to have temper tantrums, which resulted in her alternating crying despondently and yelling at me while I Angry Mom-ed back at her. Finally, after fifteen minutes of “negotiations” (yelling), she agreed to walk into the school without any further noise or fluffy-thing-inclusive demands, and shuffled into the foyer looking miserable and also kind of adorable, what with the damp curls, the dislodged flower hairclip, and the sniffling. So then her teacher – who is lovely and was of course just trying to help – told me that she finds that the best way to handle a tantrum like that is just to hold them and make them feel secure and loved, which is the virtual opposite of what I did.
It is 9:30 in the morning, and I already feel like a beast of a parent. And a soaking wet beast, at that. And now I have to go supervise a field trip.
Summary: three-year-olds, holy god. Any and all advice and commiseration is not just “welcome,” but probably necessary if I am going to survive the remainder of the day (not to mention tomorrow morning, when she is obviously going to do the exact same thing).