I don't remember the first time I heard the phrase "terrible twos." It feels like something I've always known about, at least for all of my adult life. Everyone knows that two-year-olds are jerks. So when my son turned two, and started throwing tantrums, I wasn't all that surprised. I just had to roll with it until he turned three, and then he'd be cool again, right?
Wrong. Three arrived, and his tantrums were longer, more frequent, and more violent. What the hell is this? Should I be worried? Oh, no, apparently there's something called the "trying threes." Which, by the by, is a really shitty attempt at alliteration, Person Who's in Charge of Parenting Clichés. And the "trying threes" are sooo much worse than the "terrible twos," hahaha rookie mother, didn't you know that? Um, no, I didn't, and thanks for the warning.
Okay. So they're even worse at three. Got it. Well, now we're smack in the middle of four. And now he's all about asserting his independence (read: rejecting my authority) and exerting control over his environment (read: being a selfish brat). Geez, does this kid have some sort of disorder? Maybe I need to call the doctor? Nope, just the "fucking fours." Okay, this is the first one that's accurately named. And it's way worse than two or three.
This kid . . . you have to understand that I love him. I love him more than chocolate and cats and everything else combined. But there are whole days where I only like him for maybe a couple of hours. Like when I invent an awesome dinner called a "pizzadilla," which is a quesadilla made with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese that you dip in spaghetti sauce instead of salsa, because I'm so fun and thoughtful, and then he yells at me that he doesn't love me anymore, because he wanted grapes. Yeah, days like that.
Or when he throws down in the middle of the supermarket lobby, because he wants that car cart, which looks exactly like the one I'm trying to get him into, but is clearly completely different and vastly superior, and I must be punished with ear-splitting screams so loud that everyone in the store can hear what a bad mother I am. You know, one of those days.
I have fucking had it with the fucking fours. We've got about three months left. I've almost made it. And everyone tells me that things get so much better when they turn five. Five-year-olds are eager to please, they love to help out, and they're much better at articulating their feelings with actual words, rather than demon-growls and flailing fists.
Except . . . that's what everyone told me about three and four, too.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room.