I will confess. There was something that really annoyed me when my son turned 3. I would proudly announce that his 3rd birthday was approaching, and parents would roll their eyes and warn me, "oh, just wait-- 3 is way harder than 2!" Really? There's something worse than the Terrible Twos? Aren't they called that for a reason?
I found this common, if meant-to-be-funny, statement so deflating. I had worked so hard for 3 years with my son. I love him beyond measure but he was not an easygoing, happy-go-lucky baby or toddler. There were some very long days with him as a 2 year old (and as a one year old for that matter). 2 year olds can just barely communicate their needs, and as a result they become so frustrated when you can't decipher their toddler-speak...it's enough to drive the most sane quite mad.
Tantrums weren't necessarily my son's biggest issue at two (though of course I experienced my fair share); it was the constant demand on my time and attention that I found the most draining. There was virtually no independent play in my house. I was his daily teacher, entertainer, caretaker, best friend, etc. He did not like going to playdates or having people over to our house. His anxiety could spike at the smallest incident. Add to that a new baby in the mix, and I think you get the point: 2 was a hard age for all of us. And I was looking at 3 with guarded optimism.
Though I'd chuckle at people's warnings of the "horrible 3's," inwardly I refused to accept this Downer Debbie look at the 3rd birthday. Why on earth would people keep having children if it truly just never gets easier? I rationalized.
So, I have good news for you. 3 is better than 2. Maybe it's my stubborn refusal to accept anything else. Or perhaps I have willed age 3 to be better. Fine. So be it. It doesn't matter how we got here.
Because at 3 and 4ish months, my son is more fun to be around. He can be my pal when we are out and about. He is the sweetest older brother to his little sister. He is affectionate. He tells hilarious jokes. He enjoys watching a show or two. He goes to preschool a few mornings a week. He has crushes on little girls. He dances with us to country music. He can use words to tell me what is worrying him (i.e. lots). He even...wait for it...plays by himself. Maybe just for five minutes, but trust me, this is progress in our household.
Of course we still have rough days. Of course he can still throw an Oscar-winning tantrum when it's time to go to the doctor, or he when willfully refuses a nap. But still. Overall, it's better.
I've always loved my son with my whole heart. That hasn't changed. It's just that now, he's, well, kind of fun. Maybe it depends on the temperament of the child which age is better, but for this kid, 3 is where it's at.
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