Sunday, July 18, 2010

The funny of 3

As a mother of 2 1/2 boys, I have to say that my absolute favorite age is 3. Boys run a little behind girls in their intellectual thinking. So at 2 while girls are growing their imaginations and playing dolls, tea party, etc., boys are "physically inquisitive". Let me break that one down. I never referred to either of my boys' 2nd year as the "terrible 2's" but rather I called them the
"inquisitive 2's". Boys are just physically inquisitive. This often translates into climbing this, breaking that, swallowing who knows what just to see what it tastes like, and flushing any small item in the "magic bowl". It doesn't take the stress off the 2nd year to view it as inquisitive over terrible. Don't get me wrong! But when you understand it that way there is less anger added to the frustration. In addition to this physical need to explore their world, boys are often stuck in an eternal state of frustration. Their minds are going, their bodies are going, but their speech often falls behind their female counterparts (a trend that continues throughout life). So they get frustrated more often at not being able to communicate their feelings, needs, or thoughts and we end up with the inevitable and notorious temper tantrum. We always acknowledge how hard year 2 is for the parents but seldom think about how frustrated our toddlers are.

But then 3 comes along! And the language light switch turns on! (Enter angels singing from on high) Now, my two boys learned to speak at different rates. My oldest, being an only child, had less of a need to speak until later as I understood his toddler speak. Whereas our 3yr old spoke much earlier because whatever big brother was doing he wanted to do! But let me be very clear that speaking and communicating are two very different things to a small child! Knowing words is impressive but being able to clearly translate your thoughts into words is where the world really changes for little boys. And it gets entertaining for parents.

The first thing I love about 3 is their ability to discover things and TELL you about it! When my nephew was 3 we were walking through a parking garage and there was a red directional arrow on the ground. This type of thing is something we, as adults, typically overlook. But to my nephew it was the coolest thing he had discovered all day and he had to share the excitement! 3 is also when parents of little boys start hearing this several times over each day- "AIRPLANE! MOMMY! IT'S AN AIRPLANE! I FOUND ANOTHER ONE!". Everything is new an exciting and our boys are ready to share it all with us! I love it!

Then comes the story telling and the ability to translate their thoughts! The things that come out of a 3 yr old's mouth are priceless! It's like getting little glimpses of who they are and who they will be! Example: when my oldest was 3 we used to call his farts "froggies" because his bottom croaked when he farted. It was our cute and dainty way of addressing a stinky topic in our house. We didn't stop to think of how this translates in the mind of a 3 yr old. Then one day he was running around the living room naked after a bath and he stopped, dropped, and stuck his finger in his bottom! We immediately freaked out and told him to stop then asked what he was doing. His response, "I'm touchin' the froggies!". We no longer referred to his farts as froggies again. Age of discovery for parents and toddlers! And now we are once again going through the 3's with our next one. I love listening to him speak, play with his action figures (for which he creates the most elaborate story lines), and hold full conversations with me. For both my boys the ability to conversate and express things calmed the temper tantrums quite a bit.

Being a seasoned parent I am well aware that the temper tantrums will continue for my 3 yr old. The ability to communicate feelings is now lost on my 14 yr old. And that each age is precious in its own ways. The best parenting advice I ever got was to enjoy each stage they go through (good or bad) because they only go through it once and you can't get it back. This is true of 3 or 14. And now with a new baby on the way we have another set of years and discoveries at our finger tips! We are blessed and excited to see what things our boys discover!

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