The Terrible Threes

A good friend once told me that she found the threes a lot more stressful than the twos. Why? Because you can explain away a lot of undesirable traits and behaviours (both to yourself and others) by saying, "Oh, he/she is only two." This sentence does not work so well when 'three' replaces 'two'.

I think I'm going to agree with her. OB is three next month (party planning will commence shortly!) and already I'm compiling a growing list in my head of things that might seem a lot less acceptable when a three-year-old is doing them than when a two-year-old did them!

OB still does a few things that others might consider should have been consigned to history long ago. For instance, he still sleeps in a cot, he still has a bottle of milk at bedtime, he still has a comfort blanket in bed with him. Sometimes I can feel the sideways looks and raised eyebrows of people when they become aware of these things.

The cot thing is about circumstances really.  I had always intended to have him in a bed by now but at the beginning of this year when I realised we'd be moving house, I decided to put it off until after the move. Then when we finally moved, we went on a three-week holiday straight after. When we came back I had to decorate his new bedroom - this took weeks, squeezing it in at naptime and after he went to bed. Then I thought that moving bedrooms and going into a new bed in one go might be too much for him, so I put the cot in the new bedroom. Then my parents offered to buy the required bed on their next visit.  Consequently, my nearly three-year-old is still in a pretty small cot and won't be getting his new bed until at least next week! He can lie down in there ok, but still, he's pretty old to be in a cot!

The bottle of milk is a different issue. It's a leftover from his baby days and I have absolutely no plan about what to do with it at all. I know from other people that most children seem to have ditched the bottle by now, but I've tried to come up with any negative effects of still having a bedtime bottle and I can't think of any.  So what does it matter if he keeps it for a bit longer? The appearance of the bottle is a signal to him that bedtime is coming. When he sees it he obediently comes over to get his pyjamas on, and then sits on my knee, or cuddles up to me to drink it. When it's finished, it's bedtime. No fuss. My son is a very lively boy and so rarely voluntarily sits still, or sits on my knee that I really treasure that 15 minutes at bedtime each day. I'd be reluctant to risk messing with it!

As for his blanket, well, I've no plans to do anything about that either. He's never had a dummy or a special teddy or any other comfort object. The blanket lives in his bed and he rubs it between his thumb and forefinger as he's going to sleep. We all need a bit of comfort now and again - last night I went for a large glass of red. At his age, I think the blanket is a better choice!

These things are about what goes on in our house, though. What becomes more of an issue the older the child gets is things that go on outside the house, in full view of other people. Some friends of mine have a child with Aspergers. At diagnosis, they were told that behaviours that seem quirky or cute now, in a relatively young child, will increasingly seem odd and a bit weird as the child gets older. In short, the older their child gets, the more they will stand out.

There are things about OB that I hope are just phases he is going through, or just to do with his young age. He is tall for his age and people often think he is around four years old. I dread to think what they are thinking about his behaviour if they imagine him to be four! He's not a badly-behaved two-year-old, but I wouldn't be anything like as tolerant if he was still behaving like this when he turned four!

So, yes, in my head, I'm compiling a list of things I'd like us to tackle together over the next few months. Not all in one go - I'm not a masochist! But things like remembering manners, basic politeness (like not ignoring people when they say hello!), going to the toilet without accompanying meltdown, taking an interest in dressing and undressing, not changing his mind 20 times over every issue, using cutlery, occasionally putting toys away, eating yoghurt without redecorating the house . . . .


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