Before I had kids of my own, I always heard people talk about the terrible twos. I began to mentally prepare myself.
After I ended up with my own little you-know-whats, I dreaded the older one turning two. The terrible twos are coming, I would tell myself. But how could the terrible twos alter this angelic guilelessness? I would ask myself. How is that even possible?
And when the first set of twos sailed by mostly without incident (potty-training being a major exception for which I blame myself for, you know, wanting it to happen), I congratulated myself for being such an awesome, non-alarmist parent! See, that was a breeze, I told myself. Bring on the teen years!
Ahh, my hubris. I did not realize, not being much for math, that three comes after two. And three is what I should have dreaded all along.
Because when kids are two, they get fussy. They have preferences. They want stuff. They get frustrated. They are not rational. But they are distractable. “I know you don’t like to eat a broken banana, sweetheart, but . . . Look! There’s a bunny on your shirt! Yay! Oh, you want a banana? Here!”
But when they are three, they have all that same stuff as two year olds, but they are not distractable anymore. And they’re stamina for tantrums is much greater. You try to distract them with their shirts and you get a look that says “$&%# your bunny! This banana is broken and I will not eat it!”
I did survive my first throw-down-threes, emerging with only a vague dread of odd numbers. Looking at my sweet, innocent second child, I would swear to myself that he couldn’t possibly mean me any harm. It will be different, I told myself.
I apparently have a great capacity for self-deception.
Sure enough, three came after two.
And then came the whining.
Ugh. The whining. At Fun Apartment, there is no escape from the whining. There is no “other room” to which I can escape. There is no mysterious soundproof zone that the whining cannot penetrate. There’s just the Fun Apartment with whining in it. (I suppose there is the bathroom. But it smells like vinegar in there.)
I have frighteningly few strategies for dealing with the whining. I tried what worked (miracles) with the older brother :”Mommy can’t understand what you’re saying when you’re whining. I just hear a strange buzzing noise. Can you say it in your big boy voice?” (The older brother is a little un-savvy, I have to admit.)
There is ignoring. That doesn’t stop the whining though. I still have a floppy boy in the middle of the apartment whining my name. Ignoring usually goes like this:
Little: Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . (repeat until duration of 8-10 minutes)
Little: Answer my question!
Me: What is your question?
Little: . . . . uh . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . . Moooommmmeeeeeee! . . . .
(There seems to be no maximum number of times that this scene can be repeated within the Fun Apartment on any given day.)
I suppose there is patience. I could have patience. Perhaps some day I will.
Until then, I have box wine. And a crazy straw.