Dear Charlie Bird,
Part of me doesn’t want to record this time in your life. I want to let it go by the way side so maybe we can both forget it. But that wouldn’t be fair because it’s part of who you are and who we are right now. So let me tell you a story.
Tuesday night we were watching Curious George before bed as usual. Daddy was in the chair with Alice, I was reading my book at one end of the couch, Eddie was in the middle with the tablet, and you were on the other end. Everything was totally fine.
Then you decided to sit on the arm rest.
It is a well-known rule that we don’t sit on the arm rests of furniture. For one, you fell off from it just an hour before and landed in your sister’s rock n play with her in it. There was much crying.
Anyway, I said, “Charlie. Please sit on your buns the correct way on the couch cushion.” You looked over Eddie at me and stuck your tongue out.
Daddy said, “Charlie. Sit. Now.”
Daddy started to count. You did not comply.
We were all tired. We just wanted you to listen just this once. But no. You did not want to. I had been going through this with you all day, although throughout the day, your clip drops on the behavior chart when you make a poor choice. I don’t know why we were giving you eleventy billion chances in that moment.
Yes I do. We were all tired.
I had been doing it for ten hours. Daddy was soothing Alice and had been at work all day. We were so done. We didn’t handle it well. I didn’t handle it well.
I threw my book on the floor. Marched over to the Behavior Chart and put you in the red. Then I stormed over to you, picked you up off the arm of the chair, and threw you onto the couch so you would land on your butt. I yelled.
I know this is not the way to parent. I especially know this is not how to parent you. You will not cower and crumble and obey out of fear (not that I want to parent that way anyway. It’s awful just typing it). You will lose your mind. And you did.
You screamed. You threw things. You spit.
Dad got mad. He set Alice down, grabbed you, and put you in your bed.
When I got downstairs to put you boys to bed, you had thrown everything out of your bed. The rule is, if you throw it out, you don’t get it back. So you screamed while I read books to Eddie. You cried when I turned out the light.
Eddie got concerned that you would cry so hard, you would barf. You didn’t.
You spit and tore things off the walls because you had run out of things to throw.
I ignored you.
You continued to freak out.
I gave you your pacifier and your pillow.
You threw them back at me.
Daddy came down and talked you down. He gave you your pacifier and your small pillow. You were fine. So I came back down to lay by Eddie for a bit.
You freaked out again. You were so mad at me.
So I gave up.
Daddy came down instead.
I went up and cried.
This is not an isolated event, my dear Charlie.
You have one of the worst tempers I have ever seen. Most times, I don’t freak out on you. Most of the time I can muster the patience to talk calmly to you and administer your consequence with a soft voice. Most of the time. Tuesday I was weary of mothering. I just wanted you to listen and obey the first time. For once. I didn’t want to have to count to ten and put on a calm face.
Three is just hard. It is. I have to remind myself of this over and over.
And it’s not just hard on me and daddy. It’s hard on you.
Three is a big age. You aren’t a baby anymore, but you are clinging fiercely to baby things (like diapers and your pacifier). But you want to be BIG and STRONG too.
You have BIG feelings, but no words to describe them.
You are trying new things and wanting to do things on your own, but getting so so frustrated when you can’t do it easily like your older brother.
And on top of all that, you lost your place as the baby of the family four months ago. You are trying to figure out your place and your voice in all this, and, well, it’s just down-right frustrating and stupid sometimes.
We went through a lot of this with Eddie when he was three. He also had a new baby (you!) to deal with. His temper wasn’t as short and he acted out in different ways, but still it’s all about three just being dumb and hard.
I’m sorry, buddy. I’m sorry I lose patience with you. I’m sorry three is so hard sometimes.
But it has it’s good stuff too. I hope you remember the good more than the difficult.
Like how I was there during the thunderstorm on Monday morning and you said, “Mom mom? I am going to sit right here so you can keep me safe.”
I love you so much, Charlie.
Love, Mom mom