Posted by: Hannah | 09/22/2014

George, unwound

Talk all you want about the terrible twos – three year olds are actually The. Worst.


My sweet baby George, my funny wee man, has in recent weeks turned on me in a big way. During our vacation I was already starting to see signs of the dreaded three year old behaviours: the pointless defiance, the rampant lack of logic, the roaring tantrums. Then school started, taking his beloved brothers (he calls them “my boys”) away from him for most of the day. The arrival of New Baby – christened “Charlie” in recognition of his giant round hairless noggin – has ramped everything up to eleven. George is jealous, and fearful of the amount of hands-on attention Charlie needs, so naturally he’s reacting by pointing all of those negative emotions at me.

At 1AM he woke me up by screaming “MOM MOM MOMMMMYYYYYY MOMMY I NEEEEEED YOUUUUU!” – the way he always wakes up, by the way, regardless of what time it is or how much sleep he’s had – and so once again I stumbled out of bed in a fog to see what the problem was. I’ll take this moment to point out that I’ve had one night in the past month? maybe? when he didn’t get me out of bed at least once (and frequently twice) to yell at me about things.

Anyway. I went into the room he now shares with Ron and crouched down by his bed. It took actual focused effort to keep my voice modulated because goddammit child, every night every night EVERY NIGHT YOU ARE NOT A BABY ANYMORE WHY DON’T YOU JUST SLEEP I AM SO TIRED. I leaned over and whispered “I’m here, kiddo. What is it?”

“I need a drink of waaaaater,” he whined, loudly. “In the green cup. With the orange lid.”

Now, it’s 1AM. There is a torrential downpour outside. Heavy winds are lashing the house and because I’m an idiot, I forgot to take down my wind chimes before the storm started, so what is normally a gentle tinkling outside my window is an alarming clanging that the neighbours will probably hate me for. We went camping on Saturday night so I’m already running on a sleep deficit. Things have been tense around the house lately and for a whole host of reasons there is no bloody way I’m going to stagger around the house looking for one particular cup that I haven’t seen in a few days when all I want is a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I go to the kitchen and put an inch of water in a cup. Back to the bedroom. “Sit up, buddy, here’s your water,” I whisper. He grabs his blankie and whips it hard at me, splashing the water all over me in the process. “THAT WILL MAKE ME PEE THE BED!!!” he roared, as if the fucking water wasn’t his idea in the first place. I heard Ron in the upper bunk starting to stir because while he’s a heavy sleeper, there are limits.

And this, my friends, is not an unusual story, lately. He asks for milk and doesn’t drink it. He insists on second helpings and then whines that he’s full before taking even one bite. He requests oatmeal for breakfast and then roars in rage when I start cooking it because NO I DON’T WANT MY OATMEAL COOKED. He gets up every morning between 6 and 6:30 – if I’m lucky – and demands stuff all day, then goes to bed and continues demanding stuff all night. While half-asleep.

I hate it, and I’m tired of it, and tired of him, and then I feel like a monster because I know. I know his world’s been turned upside-down. I know he senses the emotional undercurrents between Mom & Dad and that upsets him. I know that he was used to having his brothers around all the time, and now he doesn’t, and that bothers him. Even at swimming lessons last night, when a new session started and he didn’t get his beloved Emily for a teacher – even that is another change, and I was mostly sympathetic to his disappointment & sadness.

But I wasn’t completely on his side, you know? My internal monologue went something like but you love swimming now, and here I am in the pool even though I’m having a day where I feel like a giant fat hairy blob, and you’re not an orangutan you’re a human child who is nearly three years old, so if you could unwind your arms from around my neck and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” with the rest of us right now that would be awesome, OK? Because mostly what I want to be doing right now is lying in bed with a book and a cup of tea.

The only thing that’s keeping me (slightly) sane is that I remember these same feelings of sadness, anger, and ambivalence when Ron was this age. And Harry, although to a lesser extent, honestly. (Four was the bad year for Harry. Oy.) This is a stage. A stage that will pass. We still have our moments where I just have to hug him tight because he’s such a dear. He makes me laugh. He has a tender heart. We will get through this, and one day I’ll realize that I can’t remember the last time a child woke me in the night, or the last time someone screamed at me because I gave them the wrong colour cup.

It will happen. But in the meantime, sweet lord. Pass the wine and the earplugs.




  1. Oh, honey. Ugh. I do totally get it, I know that 3 year olds just like things to be the same and predictable, and sometimes they aren’t, and that causes them to be like that. BUT GODDAMMIT IT IS HARD TO DEAL WITH. All the patience and compassion in the world is useless in the face of constant sleep deprivation and acting-out.

    I’m so sorry. You’re right, it’s a stage, and it will pass, but meanwhile it sucks. Feel free to vent to me anytime. And I’m glad you’re going to get a break – NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!

    Lentils and snack mix and bellinis await you, my lady!

  2. That is a rude awakening when it happens ONCE. A month of that and my bedraggled butt would not be very cheerful. I believe stabby would be a better descriptor at that point.

    Sleep deprivation alone makes a human feel loopy.. add the demandy and yelly preschooler and really, no one would judge you for losing it.

    We didn’t have “terrible twos” or “tantrum-y threes” ’round here, but we sure as heck had the “effing fours”. Exhausting. Of course, like everything it does eventually settle down and we all learn to maneuver the waters of a new stage (again!) as one age turns into another.

    But! SONOFA! while you are in the thick of it.

    Sending you positive vibes and wishing you a good night’s sleep. (I am running on empty today. That storm was insane!)

  3. Oh three is SUCH a rough age all around. I remember three very well.

    The other day Oldest was in a complete snit and behaving badly as only a tween can do and suddenly I was overwhelmed with just not liking him at all. Then I felt simultaneously sad and shitty about disliking my own son and the whole thing was a terrible spiral. Parenting is just so hard sometimes especially when you don’t have enough rest 😦 The only sanity sometimes is venting to other parents who GET IT.

  4. Yes. With monkey #2 we had terrible threes (much like you described) and the “effing fours” (thank you, peady!) to an extent as well. I’ve also seen quite a bit of both at the kindergarten over the years so I don’t think it’s that uncommon.

    Five has been great though – monkey has been a lot less whiny/needy and a lot more fun to talk to and hang out with. Babies/toddlers/little kids are cute and all that, but for me five has been the magic age.

    Hang in there – and here’s hoping for no “effing fours” with George.

  5. My beloved grandmother would drive me to derision saying it is just a stage when I would complain about younger siblings and cousins. But, she was right and you are right.
    Be extra kind to yourself while you face this stage of intensive mothering. Hugs and prayers.

  6. Holy shit – that’s, like, serial killer abductor behaviour – GET ME THE WATER! FUCK YOU, I HATE WATER! I honestly can’t remember if my kids did this kind of shit, but they probably did, although I know I got off easier than you in the sleep department. Sounds like you have a good handle on it and just need to bitch among friends, so bitch away, friend.

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