WARNING: Huge rant post. If you're not in the mood for a LOT of bitching and complaining, then move along!
A few weeks ago I thought the worm had turned. The Little One began behaving in a downright civilized manner and I thought we were over the worst of the threes. I WAS WRONG. Three as a whole seems to be designed to torture parents. There are moments when it tests your will to live. I didn't think anything could be closer to torture than the sleep deprivation of newborn days. And those were truly miserable months of my life, so perhaps I was right. But this is pushing the bounds of my patience in ways that a good night's sleep just cannot fix.
First, the nonstop talking. From the very second she arises until the second she surrenders to sleep it is a nonstop barrage of chatter and requests and questions. AND THE VOLUME! THE INABILITY TO REMEMBER TO "USE OUR INDOOR VOICES!!" This is not entirely new. What is new is the following: nonsense chatter and questions using made up words, asking permission to do every little thing even when permission is not at all required, and asking "where did we get?" each and every thing in the immediate environment. My child wants to carry on a constant verbal interaction, and I'm just not equipped to handle this much verbosity. I'm seriously considering earplugs. (Hey, it beats a sharp stick in the ear.)
Second, the selective listening. My child used to be a good listener. I'm not sure what happened, but it is as if a switch has been flipped. I didn't think this problem started so early, but apparently it does. I would say she isn't listening at all, but she can somehow hear a chip bag opened from across the house, and any mention of anything that sounds remotely like cookie, cake, ice cream, or the park brings her running to us. If we actually did say any of those things, as in, "we'll get some cookies tomorrow," she then becomes unable to hear anything else, and the nonstop chatter becomes centered completely on the cookies.
Third, the fidgeting. Good lord, the nonstop movement. This is a 24/7 issue, because she is also a restless sleeper. She was born moving those legs and thrashing about, and she has never stopped being the on-the-go girl. She will sit still for a particularly compelling video, but only for about 20 minutes at the most and then she's up and running again. And yes, she gets plenty of time to run off energy. She's just bursting with it all of the time. And there's nothing wrong with it except that we're constantly having to remind her not to run in the house, and to stop climbing all over everything (including us), and to settle down before she hurts herself. What is more difficult to take is the thrashing about in her sleep. She ends up in our bed every night, and I've got the bruises to prove it. I fully expect to wake up with a black eye one of these mornings.
Though this makes for a great deal of frustration on a daily basis, there are moments that I'd like to preserve in amber for all eternity. Like the way my heart fills when she starts singing "Sing a Song of Sixpence" softly in the backseat on the way to or from preschool. Or how time slows for a few amazing minutes when she and I sing her lullabies together while I rock her in my arms (at her request) at bedtime. Or the way she wakes me up with a kiss on the cheek in the morning, and then wants a hug. Or my feeling of pride and delight in seeing her catch the ball in the backyard after teaching her how to watch it instead of me when I throw to her, and the way she yells "woo-hoo" in her high-pitched squeal of victory. Or how sweet she looks in her hats and princess dresses.
I know the frustrations will fade in my memory, but these other moments will linger, and make me miss her preschool self desperately. No one needs to counsel me to treasure this time. In fact, any parent of an older child who wants to dole out such unsolicited advice should rather bite her tongue and hold her peace or I'll make her come over and babysit for me. There's nothing like a long day with a preschooler to remind the parent of an older child to count her own damn blessings and mind her own business.
Can you tell it's been a long day? I'm off to do a bit more work before bed. But soon I'll be drawing the Little One into bed with us (yes, on purpose, in spite of the beating I'll endure if it's a particularly restless night for her), and doing it all again tomorrow. I think I hear her waking up now, so I guess we're off to sleep. And you know what? I can't wait to see her in the morning.