Threenager

Disclaimer: I’m gonna say up front that I’m high as a kite on cold meds right now. Like, I kind of can’t feel the tips of my fingers all the way? So if I make no sense, it’s not my fault. If I’m brilliant and witty, it’s totally all me. You know the drill.

Oooh… look at all the pretty colors….

Okay, here we go.

For some reason, I always heard about the Terrible Twos. Oh, those toddlers, so impossible! So erratic! You can’t reason with them! So when I made it through the Kraken’s second year of life with relatively few battle scars, I was smug.

Too smug.

Did you know there’s a thing called “threenagers”? It’s a totally valid and important developmental stage that basically boils down to “I’m going to be an unbearable dictator and unmitigated asshole, with light sprinklings of disturbingly angelic affection, just to keep you on your toes.” There’s a whole process of defining themselves as separate people, testing boundaries, blah, blah, blah. The point is, my kid is suddenly behaving like a tiny, drunk frat boy. He leaves a trail of destruction and overturned furniture, doesn’t care about future consequences, and only wants to eat mac ‘n cheese. And sometimes his speech is so slurred you can’t understand what he’s saying. And he falls over for no reason. And he’ll suddenly bust out, “I love you, man!” and insist on group hugs in the middle of busy intersections.

Dude, seriously, is my spawn pledging? It would explain so much…

He **does** own an awful lot of colorful shorts.

Anyhoo, whether it’s because his brain is growing or he wants to impress the seniors by pulling pranks when the grown-ups aren’t looking, he’s been a handful. And when he gets upset, he gets irrational in a way that puts certain Cheeto-colored political figures to shame.

That’s an unfair comparison to the noble Cheeto.

This week, he has declared that he hates:

  1. Cheese (“Do you want me to get you another slice of pizza, oh light of my life?” [aggressively stuffs pizza into his mouth] “NO! I HATE CHEESE!”)
  2. Fun (He was actually rolling on the floor, weeping, “Please don’t make me have fun! Pleeeeeeease don’t make me have fun!”)
  3. Chocolate (Seriously? SERIOUSLY?)

Basically, he makes no sense, and I’m often stuck at a loss, mouth agape, wondering how the hell I’m supposed to help this creature who is literally throwing a temper tantrum because I offered him a cupcake.

YOU MONSTER!

Okay, so you have a mental image of my existence. The other day, the goblin had locked himself in my room, sobbing hysterically, because, I don’t know, I probably told him that he could have a popsicle or something. So I was sitting on the floor on the other side of the door, trying to de-escalate the situation a little, and I told him, “I love you so much!” Stupidly thinking that might be reassuring to his panicking lizard brain.

“NO! I DON’T LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I DON’T LOVE YOU SO MUCH!”

For the next five minutes he proceeded to tell me that he doesn’t love me. Over and over again. In no uncertain terms. That he wanted me to go away, leave him alone, and never come back.

Little does he know how tempting that sounds.

And you know what? It was one of my proudest parenting moments.

First off, here is a kid that feels so ludicrously attached and secure in his relationships that he feels confident he can carpet-bomb them, and they’ll be totally fine. That’s amazing. He’s trusting that I won’t go away, no matter what he does.

Secondly, it genuinely didn’t hurt. I mean, every parent knows there’s going to come a point when their kid tells you they don’t love you, and I always assumed it would be like a knife plunging into my chest, ripping out my beating heart, and smashing it to the floor, Aztec sacrifice-style.

Exactly.

But it wasn’t like that at all. It was actually pretty funny. Because damn kid, I don’t believe a word you say anymore! You’re like a fire hose on full blast, just spewing nonsense out with incredible speed and force. I don’t want to say you’re lying, because that gives you too much credit; I don’t think you’re even planning the words before they come out. Your brain is a volcano, and I’m Pompeii, calmly waiting my fate. Is it possible to build up an immunity to volcanoes? Because I feel like I have.

Look at this wuss. I don’t even need a protective suit!

All of that, and, of course, I know my kid loves me. If he’s secure in his relationship with me, I’m pretty well latched into my relationship with him. This is the baby that was always in physical contact with me, all day, every day, because that’s what he needed, my own sanity be damned. This is the toddler who never tries anything new without holding my hand. This is the kid who told me I’m his best friend.

So when he told me he didn’t love me, it was kind of great. It was a moment of pure, unadulterated triumph. And I’m sure that, as I sat in my yoga pants and sweatshirt in the middle of the hallway floor, surrounded by trucks and dragons, I looked incredibly, deeply smug.

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