I am 3. I am not built to sit still, keep my hands to myself, take turns, be patient, stand in line, or keep quiet. I need motion, I need novelty, I need adventure, and I need to engage the world with my whole body. Let me Play. Trust me, I'm learning.
I saw the above photo on Facebook yesterday and it was just what I needed. LB and I have our good days but some of his behavior has really challenged me lately. On numerous occasions I have asked myself, "What am I doing wrong?" "Am I too lenient?" "Am I too strict?" I have just been doubting myself and some of my parenting decisions. The whole concept of sharing and taking turns has taken a serious nose dive. I used to think LB was good at that stuff and even patted myself on the back a few times for a job well done. I won't do that again! He has definitely become more territorial about pretty much everything. This morning at the park he was playing in a puddle. He was jumping in it and throwing rocks in it and having a great time. Another little boy wanted to join in the fun and LB shouted, "This is mine!" Geesh. I know it's normal and all part of development but it's so frustrating.
LB also has been struggling with the little baby I am watching. (I am struggling too.) It's not been easy. In part, because it's been a bit sporadic so settling into a routine has been difficult. The baby's mom takes random days off here and there and the baby's grandma comes into town for several days. I like having the break but it also makes getting into a flow really hard. And LB gets really distressed when the baby is distressed so then I have two crying kids to contend with. A few nights ago, LB was in the bath and he threw his soaking wet washcloth at me. After I talked to him about it he said, "It's hard to share my mommy with baby B." From my point of view, it was so out of the blue. Her mom had picked her up several hours ago and we hadn't been talking about her but clearly he was still thinking about her. It was also a relief to know that a lot of his negative attention seeking behaviors have been for good reason. Yesterday, we were sitting on the couch and he asked, "Baby B is coming tomorrow?" When I told him she wasn't he paused and then looked at me and said "Just Mommy and LB." It was so sweet. It's not like he's getting a life long sister out of this gig and so I really do sympathize with him. Luckily, my commitment is over at the end of the month and then we can go back to "just Mommy and LB."
As the above picture states, LB definitely needs a lot of motion and movement to help him stay calm and regulated. I'm really looking forward to this summer when we can spend most of our days in the backyard, at the park or at the pool. One of my goals for this summer is to get LB more comfortable in the pool. I've started re-familiarizing myself with all the great parks in our city and hope to explore some new ones. LB loves nature trails and collecting objects like pinecones or rocks so that's on our agenda too. As much as a I want to let him explore and engage, I find it difficult to balance that with keeping him safe and setting limits. He has the tendency to run off and that's been really tough to manage with the baby in tow, especially since he might be the fastest three year old ever. We've started talking about strangers and car accidents and I hate that I have to do that. He's still so little. But I also feel like he needs to know the consequences of running off and understand why I have to keep him close to me in certain situations. He desperately wants to be independent and I want to encourage that but safety has to be first, right? Yesterday, we went on a walk and I had the baby in the stroller and I let him walk ahead on the sidewalk. We practiced letting him run ahead a bit and then I would say "freeze" and he would have to stop and wait or run back to us. It worked pretty well and I hope with more practice he will get better at it.
I'm holding tight to the really good moments and trying to remember that in the tough moments he is still learning and developing. Oh age three, you are not easy but your good moments are so joyful that I know I'll survive.