Like many 3-year-olds, Nathaniel’s new big fun thing to do is to test Mommy & Daddy. He gets in these super fun moods where he tries to do everything he knows we don’t want him to do – and this list is in no particular order – like throw things indiscriminately (this is his all-time most frequent negative behavior), grab and shake the TV, stand on furniture, throw things into my garden beds, hit, bite, turn lights on & off & on & off & on & off. Did I mention the throwing? I mean, each thing on its own is wrong – but when he goes from one to the next & the next and he’s totally looking for what he can try next to get a rise out of us? Oh man, my brain just hurts.
Tonight’s recap: When I got home from work, I asked him if he wanted to go for a jog with me, take a ride in the stroller. Nope, he wanted to play out back. Okay, that’s fine. I was in a mood to have a happy, easy night. Ha ha.
In the half hour or so we were outside:
Played with trucks in the (anthill covered) dirt in our spotty backyard, despite our expressing we didn’t want that – he did not want to play in his perfectly bug-free sandbox.
Made a move to throw a ball into my vegetable garden – I told him not to. He threw it in anyway. And got upset because he couldn’t get his ball (there’s a wire/mesh fence around the garden). I asked him if I gave it back to him, would he throw it into the garden. He said yes. Eventually, he behaved well enough for a few minutes that I gave it to him with the condition that he didn’t throw it in the garden. He almost threw it into the neighbor’s yard before being stopped.
Had a tantrum because I told him that we weren’t going to be weeding tonight. He got a little obsessed with weeding this past weekend, when I thought it would be fun to have him “help” in the garden. He’s the only person on Earth who has a fit because there’s no weeding for him to do. (There are actually plenty of weeds, but none that he could do – ones that would require me to be in yard clothes, cultivator in hand, digging down to the root. Not happening at 6:30 at night on a weeknight.)
Saw Daddy put the lock on the gate. Suddenly had a tantrum because he suddenly needed to go out of the backyard. Threw truck over the gate, thinking that would get us to open it long enough for him to run out. Nice try, kid.
Finally wanted to play in his sandbox – but then took shovelfuls of sand & dumped them over the deck, with a defiant look on his face, knowing he’s not supposed to do that and after told that if he did it again, we’d go inside
We went inside after that – and he had a bigger tantrum, attempting to throw more toys into the fireplace before being stopped (fake gas fireplace, pilot off).
This is what much of our time has been like lately. The thing that bugs me most about it, is that I don’t want to get overly mad at him. I do not want to yell or shout – it doesn’t accomplish anything other than to maybe upset him more, escalating things & getting us all tense. It doesn’t stop him from misbehaving. And I feel bad about it, as I only get so much time with him per day on weekdays. I want to calmly just tell him no & have it be that. But then I feel like I’m constantly saying no, no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t. If I redirect him, it ends up going into something else where it’s no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t, becoming louder & more strident as it goes on. Sigh.
Not that there haven’t been really awesome moments too – like the amazing sentences, phrases & words that are coming out of his mouth. I need to start writing them down – I think at the time, I can’t believe he just said that. And later, when I want to tell someone about it, I can’t remember it. He’s been saying “I feel better now” or that someone or something is “all better now” because of the Doc McStuffins cartoon – and he’s using it functionally. If he’s watching something he’s seen before, he’ll start talking about what is going to happen next or commenting freely on what is happening. If he falls or hits himself on something & I ask him if he’s okay, he says, “I’m okay.” (This is new – I didn’t used to get any response at all). We were watching a movie and at the end, when there’s a view of a whole bunch of green plants growing, he said to me, “Look at all the plants, Mommy.” He’s also been saying “Not what I’m talking about” when we misinterpret him. And describing things as “Neat!”
And thankfully, at the end of each day, even if he was on our last nerves 20 minutes earlier, he cuddles on my lap for his bedtime books, kisses me goodnight & after getting in his crib, holds my hand for a bit before I leave. And I totally let go of how much I wanted to scream earlier and kid myself into thinking that I’ll be cool as a cucumber the next time he decides that testing me is neat.