Before I became a parent I was aware of, and feared, what is commonly referred to as “The Terrible Twos”.
Now, I’m not going to say that my daughter’s twos were always smiles and warm fuzzy feelings, but I genuinely felt that watching her develop into more of a little person and less of an infant was pretty awesome and the good far outweighed the bad. As my daughter neared her third birthday I rather smugly thought, “Man, that was the dreaded Terrible Twos and we both survived just fine, we never even had a true tantrum or anything.”
“I must be one heck of an outstanding parent!” I affirmed myself.
But it wasn’t until the actual day of my daughter’s third birthday that folks started saying things like, “Oh, my kid was fine- until he hit three”, or “JonMcP, you were a joy to be around-- and then you turned three”.
I'm not calling anyone a liar, but you simply don’t have a common cultural understanding of the phrase “Terrible Two” unless that is the absolute worst it can be. Right?
Well, what I missed out on in the “Terrible Twos” my daughter made up for in a new phase that could only be described as "dramatic". I believe it could be called “The Thespian Threes”.
Allow me a few illustrations.
Now, I’m not exactly old- I mean, I’m only in my mid-thirties- but I do have some aches and pains that I just don’t remember having 10 years ago. Sometimes I may comment that my back or legs or whatever are sore from a recent workout or project.
And these flippant “gosh my legs are sore” comments planted a seed in my impressionable three year old. A seed that grew into a gnarly, old-sounding shrub.
It’s not uncommon for my daughter to exclaim “my legs hurt from all that exercise” and then start hobbling around the room- and not for 10 seconds. I mean it’s a charade that she carries on for a good part of the day or at least until you distract her with something else.
One day at Target she told me her ears hurt. With visions of doctor’s offices and bubblegum flavored antibiotics dancing in my head I asked her where and how bad, only to be told “Oh, I don’t know- It just hurts from all the exercise I got at the gym today”. Arg!
This is bad, but heaven help us if she gets a real injury.
Until that night when she was getting ready for bed.
As soon as the jeans came off and she noticed the T I N Y scrape she freaked. Refused to walk to the tub, refused to get the knee wet, refused to walk back to get changed into jammies, and literally raged about how bad it hurt the entire time.
During yesterday’s naptime she bonked the top of her foot on the corner of a book. (It didn’t draw blood, didn’t break this skin, just turned a little red. Oh, and it turns out she was doing headstands in her bed when it happened, so lest any of you worry that her sore leg complaints are indicative of something far worse please don’t). After applying antibiotic ointment, a bandaid, and a sock, she wouldn’t let me do less than wrap a freezer pack in a towel and place it on her foot for thirty minutes.
So now I dread every inevitable scrape and bump in my little thespian three year old.
When she was born I wanted to wrap her in bubble wrap because she seemed so small and innocent and I didn't want the world to hurt her. Now I want to wrap her in bubble wrap just to avoid an academy award worthy performance over every little thing.
At least I know this phase will end sometime soon. Teenage girls aren’t overly dramatic are they?