First World Problems – preschooler edition

My son was so sweet as a young toddler. Happy, affectionate, compliant, funny. You could just eat him up.

Then he turned two, and indeed became a two-year-old.

Now he’s three-and-a-half, and I thought the “terrible twos” baloney was supposed to end. Instead, we’ve got a throbbing case of threeyearoldism.

It’s a rare day he doesn’t melt down half-a-dozen times. Some days we get that many meltdowns before noon, and we just want to throw in the towel and send him back to the manufacturers. (Wait. We ARE the manufacturers. Sh*t.)

Of course, he’ll cry if he “stubs” his head or knee or toe or finger or whatever. That’s understandable, even if he’s rather over-wussy about it. We get it: he’s got a baby sister and needs some reassuring attention.

Also, he has to cry over spilt milk. It’s, like, the law.

Other potential reasons for using the piercing whine and/or collapsing in a weeping pile of limbs, with possible bonus screeching:

  • he doesn’t want to go to the babysitter’s
  • he doesn’t want to go swimming
  • he doesn’t want to get dressed
  • his iPad time is up
  • the Lego came apart
  • the person he drew doesn’t look right
  • I gave him a kiss
  • he can’t find Mater
  • it’s not time for lunch yet
  • it’s time for lunch
  • I messed up his hair
  • his boot isn’t on all the way
  • he can’t watch Cars twice in a row
  • he doesn’t want to wear socks
  • I helped him with the step-stool
  • I didn’t help him with the step-stool
  • he needs to pee
  • his nose is running
  • he needs a kiss
  • it’s too hard to put the lid on the marker
  • it’s too hard to pull the Hot Wheels track apart
  • it’s too hard to get his shirt off
  • he doesn’t like cheese
  • he wants more cheese
  • it’s bedtime

On some days, the simple act of waking up in the morning can be too much for his little psyche, so he’ll start whining pre-emptively right off the bat.

How did we get here? Where did we go wrong?

I mean, I understand. I’m grumpy too sometimes. I have days where I’m all, “Boo hoo, poor me, life is hard. My son is melting down for the eleventeenth time today, and I don’t have the patience to deal with him because my baby daughter is up a jillion times a night with hunger/teething pain. And she won’t take a bottle so I can’t go to the movies and I’m tired and my neck and shoulders are all full of knots from night-nursing but when will I ever have time for a massage?”

Classic first-world problems.

I know they’re relatively shallow and preferable to an infinite number of other problems I could have. I try to keep things in perspective. My son is healthy, smart, and, underneath the angst, still very sweet. My daughter is alive and well and adorable, and honestly, she grins way more than she fusses. And if I think I’ll go crazy because my hair is coming out in handfuls in the shower, I remind myself that it’s post-natal shedding, not chemo. Suck it up.

And then I think about E’s list of problems, and it gives me perspective in the other direction. At least I’m not as shallow as my preschooler.

kid in a blanket
He looks cute, right? Ha.

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12 thoughts on “First World Problems – preschooler edition

  1. Quinn says:

    Awww, Di. It sounds like a really rough time and it’s SO OK to complain about these things, even though you’re still grateful and lucky and yada yada. This parenting thing sounds HARD!!! But you are doing a bang-up job, and I really hope you have time and means for a massage and a movie soon. Somehow. love you.

  2. Kelly Crawford says:

    Ah, Dianna, I can so relate! As usual, you’ve eloquently captured many mothers’ experiences!

    In our world, with both of my kids, age two was a breeze, all the way through…it’s actually 3 that I have found more challenging!!! 🙂

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Wow… K is three already?? Where does the time go??

      I remember thinking that we were going to skip the terribleness of the twos… for two weeks after his birthday, E was still absolutely lovely. Then all of a sudden, like clockwork, came the contrary behaviour. Still, though, he had lots of times when he was uber-lovable.

  3. Erin T says:

    Great post! I was speaking to a postpartum depression expert yesterday and we were talking about how that first 6-8 weeks of newborn life just SUCKED for parents, and she told me, interestingly, that moms who have sometimes lengthy fertility treatments to produce much wished-for babies are more likely to suffer from pp depression, partially because of heightened hormonal changes, but also because the let-down of reality (and associated guilt!) is so hard. The wonderful but challenging real child can never live up to the perfect angelic child/prize the striving mom envisioned. Largely a problem of the privileged, but real nonetheless, right?

    My little S was a mellow baby, but now is two-and-a-half and that list of meltdown initiaters from E looks pretty familiar and funny. In a way, it’s easier for me to deal with him, though, than M, who was a crazy loud and angry newborn, but ever since has been an intense, withdrawn and quietly anxious child. I get S getting mad when I take away the iPad, so at least I feel like I can start on a solution or distraction. Yesterday, I asked M what the wet spots on her homework were and she pointed to her eyes – she’d been silently weeping over her pages, I guess because she didn’t want to do the work, and I hadn’t noticed. I’m helpless in the face of that! So, yes, they are awesome, but they all have their own challenges and parenting is damn hard and you’re doing great.

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Erin. I can definitely see how that would be the case when fertility treatments are involved… or any unrealistic expectations. Then you have situations like my friend who entered single motherhood (with a donor) with very realistic expectations, and then ended up with the easiest baby EVER. 🙂

      Poor little M… how are you supposed to help her if she doesn’t tell you what’s wrong? That’s so tragic. I can remember being a little kid and being scared or worried about random things that I never told my parents about, and now I can see it would have been better for everyone if I had… but for some reason, it’s not instinctive.

      You’re right – parenting is damn hard. And I know you’re doing great too.

  4. emerge says:

    Oh, my goodness, Erin, that is so sad, with the pointing to her eyes! Awwww.

    Di, I know you probably didn’t want your list to be overwhelming, but you left off some of my favourites. Like when I didn’t hear him and have to ask what he said, oh man, that can be explosive. Or when I say hello. Or when I offer him something he used to love to eat but now has decided he doesn’t like. Or when the person available to read stories or sit outside his door to keep him company while he goes to sleep is not the RIGHT person (i.e. it’s me).

    I know what you mean about the perspective thing. It’s easy to see how I’ve grown as a person when I think “I used to be like that…” I am much less likely to have tantrums these days. (Ahem, MOST of the time.) And now that I’m the person making the sandwich or wiping the bum, I imagine that my child-self would think I seemed so responsible and stable. (Hahahaha.)

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Auntie Em, you could TOTALLY HAVE YOUR OWN LIST – your own blog post, even – of the intricacies of dealing with your nephew. Even more complicated for you, I think.

      I sometimes think about how grown-up I would seem to a younger version of me. It makes you realize how likely it is that the adults we knew as kids probably didn’t have things nearly as together as we thought…

  5. Yep, that about captures three-year-olds. When my kids were two, a friend of mine w/ kids older than my kids, said, “whoever coined the term ‘terrible twos’ never had a three-year-old.” Boy, was he right. Now, at four, they are much more rational. They even listen to what I say sometimes, and occasionally pick up their stuff when I ask them to. Although I’m still wiping their butts, there is hope for the future. . . 🙂
    Jared Karol recently posted..How to Wipe a Four-Year-Old’s ButtMy Profile

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Thank you for saying that. I can’t count how many times, when I talk about some hard parenting moment to someone with older kids than mine, that person has said, “OH. Just WAIT.” As in, it’s gonna get so much WORSE. I understand every stage has its challenges, but I’m going to try to remind myself, when I have teenagers, how glad I am not to wipe their butts. Right??

  6. I have a six month old daughter, our first, and ever since she was born people have been saying “wait until she’s “. The best though was when I was at Ikea recently and one of their sales people told me that the worst for her were the f-ing fours. And she didn’t sugar coat the f-word either!
    All ages have their challenges I guess. There’s one positive that comes out of it though: I am eternally grateful for my parents and both thank and apologize to them whenever I see them now! 🙂

    • dilovelyadmin says:

      Ha ha, I’ve heard that phrase about age four, too! (Great, he’s not even there yet…) And you’re so right – you really appreciate your parents in a whole new way when you become one! Thanks for reading, Christina.

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