The Terrible Three’s

Awhile ago my husband mentioned that he was looking at some old pictures and videos of our son and how sweet and happy our little boy was. He said it’s harder now because our son often melts down, gets mad, pushes his little sister, etc.
This reminded me how I have often heard people say that the terrible two’s really aren’t…it’s the three’s. I agree whole heartedly.
It makes me sad because I miss my little boy. The little guy who was happy and laughed often, didn’t mind if he didn’t get what he wanted, was willing to go along with whatever he had to.
Looking at this list of things I just typed makes me wonder if we weren’t more at peace with him back then because he was amiable to our wishes. Now he’s older, can think more for himself and act on those thoughts and we call it “stubborn” or “disobedient”. (I want to say right here that I have an amazing son. He is compassionate and giving and very loving. He’s just also human and he’s three.)
It’s hard to deal with lots of tantrums but what are those really? They are him interacting with the world and discovering how things can and cannot, do and do not work. These are his first encounters with strong desires to fulfill his own thoughts and ideas, and the barriers acting out those desires come up against in reality. He has no experience with this, or rather this is his experience.
It seems like this is an amazing and short lived opportunity to teach, guide and mold him into someone who can handle hardships and disappointments in life with peace. But how?
Love him, I would think would be the first answer. Pray, study the scriptures with this purpose, would be others. Who better than to seek guidance from in parenting than the perfect Father?
Yes, I miss how my little boy was. His complete joy with life. But if he were to be that little one for the rest of his life what would he become? Only an “ignorance is bliss”, always obliging soul with no way to interact with the world in a manner that will allow him to become like our Savior. For, that takes difficulty and hard work and many, many times of not getting what you want. He would never know that there is something far better than what he wants and that it is worth sacrificing all of his encompassing, yet perspectively small, human desires he can ever have.
He is not here to make me happy (though he usually does) and definitely not here to make my life easier. He is here so I can help him move passed ignorant elation, through the terrible three’s and other stages I’m sure I have no inkling of yet, and into stable and faith filled adulthood.
This is why parenting is hard. Not because we are weak or insufficient for the job but because it’s supposed to be hard. There must be opposition in all things in order to learn the good and become better; both for us and our children. The friction, the opposing forces of parent and child are built into the plan. They’re not failures or necessarily a sign something is going wrong, but in this case, perhaps a sign they are going right. we can use them to shape better people.
Now, if only I can remember this when my son is throwing that 10th tantrum of the day because this time HE wanted to put the cereal in the bowl and by me doing it, I have just ruined his entire existence. Which, apparently, can only be fixed by tossing down the spoon and sobbing in his chair. Wait, are these the terrible threes’s or the terrible thirteens’s?

Happiness and Airplanes

Happiness and Airplanes: A Terrific Three’s Moment


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