Monday, September 22, 2008

The Little One, Version 3.5

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.


catnip said...

It will get better, I swear to you.

Kathy said...

Sending you warm thoughts across the miles.

Always Smiling said...

My youngest is 4 and she is a handful. I wouldn't trade her for anything, but somedays I wish she would let me focus on my DVD classes for a few hours without asking me a question every 2 minutes.

My point, you might ask, is I feel your pain. I think minus the age difference we have the same child.

Gary and Shelice Murphy said...

The all knowing black box brought me here to remind me how grateful I am that my daughter is a freshman in college. I was missing her and wishing to turn back time. Then I stole a few minutes before my day began to take a black box journey and I am...hope your day is full of more tender than trying moments. It takes both, though, to eventually let them go:D

Shanna said...

Read your comment about the bible belt, laughed much and had to come see who you were ;)

I don't know who came up with the terrible twos thing but they got it all wrong! I think 3 is way harder! My 3 year old will be 4 next month and something tells me this will probably not stop his NON STOP talking! ;)

Ann said...

Wonderful post. (I think I got a little teary.)

BusyDad said...

The craziest, most insane, nerve wracking, pull your hair out, bang your head against the wall job you will ever love. Yes indeedy...

IRISHKAT said...

I. FEEL. YOU!!! My 3.5 year old does the same things. Incessant chatter, non-stop questioning, moving moving MOVING!!! That is why, my friend, there is wine. Oh and don't forget the cheese! Maybe we should get them together so they can chat at each other while we enjoy a wonderful (and large) glass of something peaceful??

Ann said...

Hey, how are ya' doing today?
If things are the same I'm coming over with IrishKat!
(I'll bring goodies, and, of course, that includes wine ;->)

IRISHKAT said...

Where are you??? Ann and I are here waiting :)

If you stop by tomorrow (Friday) I have a special something just for you!!

Kaza said...

You all are awesome. (And Kat & Ann? YES. Wine and cheese, YES!!! I'm needing the virtual GNO more than ever this week!!!)