I’d had this conversation repeatedly with fellow mothers along the road of parenthood. “What is the best age?”
It’s usually asked by someone with deep dark caverns under their eyes, zero make-up, stained slept-in clothes, and a pacifier or bottle nipple hanging out the side of their mouth. I’ve been there. I remember it well.
the answer is “Pre-conception”
Babyville is a heavenly place. Sure, it’s sleep deprived and filled with sometimes constant crying, but you know you can mostly fix it or do something to put a stop to it. Give them a bottle, change their diaper, hand them to a spouse and b-line for the grocery store. Once they start walking and talking, it’s all downhill.
“Terrible Twos” are a myth. Let’s just get that straight right now. The trouble is you don’t realize it’s a myth until you can smell 3 coming down the line. Once into 2-dom they begin to grasp language and really start talking. This translates to a lot of “NO!”s and short bursts of fits. They peeter out of those fits pretty quickly because they are still easily coaxed to distraction. Dangle a snack, or a sippy cup or an iPhone in front of them and they zip it pretty quickly. … or you just throw them into their rooms and let ’em sleep it off. Either way, there’s an escape route from the unpleasantness.
Three, however, begins the long laborious road of the search for the promised land of ‘the perfect age’. When i used to meet moms of older kids when my son was 2 and 3, the first thing i asked was always, “Does it get better?!” To which i was given a piteous cock-headed head shake and sigh. Three is when they get their defiant legs under them and rrrrreally start testing the waters. They begin to appreciate the different colors mommys face can turn. They like the high pitch mommy’s voice can suddenly take on. And when it’s in a public place?! forgetaboutit! It’s like an amusement park of entertainment to which the little
monster gift from heaven is always the center of attention.
My daughter, as you may have guessed by now, is approaching the edge of 2 and readying herself to launch off the cliff that is THREE. She has run out into 2 parking lots already and has begun to understand when i issue a request or order, nothing happens immediately after ignoring me. She’s started the ignore giggle and the emphatic “NO!”s. One of her new favorite phrases is “Don’t worry about it.” It was cute when it started, but it’s begun to grate on my nerves after she is finally wrestled into her car seat after pretending she’s an ironing board and i’m telling her how disappointed i am in her choice to not behave.
“Don’t worry about it, mommy.”
Four will only get worse from there as it is commonly dubbed “fuckin fours”. As i remember, this is for very good reason.
While there are always parts of every age that are magical and amazing, there are also parts that give you a glimpse into the deepest darkest pits of your own tolerance and sanity. When she is finally potty trained and more independent, it will be a relief to see how independent she will be. The more she understands and connects with her surroundings, the more amazing it is to see things through her eyes.
The more practice her vocabulary gets, the higher my blood pressure will go. The more she voluntarily turns off her hearing, the more my eyes spin to the back of my head.
I think maybe this is a coping mechanism. The more crazy the toddlers make us, the happier we are to send them off to pre-school and kindergarten!