It’s been a long time since I’ve had a 3 year old in the house, and this is the first time that I’ve had a 3 year old BOY in the house. Unless I am just blanking things from my memory, I really don’t think Elise was like Will at 3.
Three year old Will makes life full of up and down emotions. I know he is just trying to find his place in the world, and not being a guy, I’m sure I don’t understand much of how he thinks. On the one hand, he is sweetest little boy and is very affectionate. I’ve realized lately how much he likes to be held. Since he is in the middle and Seth right now is almost always wanting to be held (a whole other topic for a post), he doesn’t have many times in my arms. But when I do pick him up (admittedly often after he has been disciplined), he puts his arms around my neck and either snuggles into my neck or reaches behind me to stroke my ponytail. It’s a wonderful feeling and a good reminder to me of the true little boy that sometimes hides inside.
That hiding occurs much too frequently for my taste. My quiet little boy is turning into a disrespectful stubborn monster with an attitude to match. For instance, this morning he finished doing his constructive preschool work and proceeded into the destructive action of cutting his paper into little bitty pieces. This wouldn’t be so bad if he left all the pieces on the table, but just out of spite he likes to throw them on the floor. How do I know it is out of spite? My main clues are the manner in which he starts swiping everything within his reach onto the floor and the look he gives me while doing it. I started out this day with the good intentions and prayers that I would react in the right way with Will. So I took away the scissors and told him he would need to pick up all the pieces of paper and throw them in the trash. I had stopped him before he got as far as he normally does, so there were probably less than 10 medium sized pieces on the floor. Easily within his capabilities. About half an hour, 1 spanking, lots of threats, and just as many tears later he finally called out: “I finished Mom!” He had thankfully picked up each piece and thrown it in the trash, a task that probably took him about 2 minutes once he decided to do it. I praised him and told him I was proud of him and was inwardly thankful that this time was actually an improvement over the other night. That time, Will decided he did not want to help clean his room and told me straight out that he wouldn’t do it. It took probably about 45 minutes to an hour for him to finally decide to pick up the few toys I had left for him to do. And that was only after I had completely given up that he would actually do it. I had lost all patience and was limiting my responses to putting him back in his room when he came out and warning him that when Daddy got home if he had not completed the job I would send Daddy in to take care of it. I guess it pays to not let him know when I’ve given up because that last ditch effort appeared to be the thing that won out. All this stubbornness and disobedience is made worse by the fact that he consistently talks and acts towards me in disrespect. I’m trying to nip this in the bud since I really don’t want to be dealing with this when he is in his teen years and probably bigger than me. If anyone has any great advice on how to deal with this, please let me know. I am willing to try just about anything.
The other interesting side of Will that has surfaced lately, is the way he acts around other children. I’ve known since pretty early on that he tends to be more of an introvert than my other two children. This doesn’t surprise me as he reminds me a lot of John. He likes his friends and does like to play with them, but for some reason he has started finding it hard to react to anything not going his way in the game or random play. The other day while we waited for Elise to get out of dance class he came running up to me in tears. Apparently one of the multitude of other little brothers had pulled his shirt. He curled up in my lap and sobbed and then snuggled for quite some time. Later he got into a fight with the same boy and the other boy’s mom who was trying to intervene told her son that Will was a “tender heart” and he needed to treat him with kindness. I wasn’t sure what to think about this description. I haven’t ever thought of him in this way, but it’s true, he is taking things more to heart lately. His ego did try to take a stand later when again this little boy got on his nerves and he started physically pushing and hitting back. This time I intervened, but though I did stop the physical hurting, I could not convince him that he needed to compromise. I don’t know which response is better, standing up for himself or dissolving into inconsolable tears. And this doesn’t happen with just kids he doesn’t get along with. One of his best friends was playing with him with a ball and happened to be a little faster at getting the ball than Will. Instead of working it out with one of my many suggestions, he chose instead to sit out the game feeling sorry for himself.
I am hoping that I can help him begin to sort out the conflict of emotions he’s dealing with so that he can begin to develop a quiet and gentle spirit. But until that happens, I am also praying for quite a bit of patience and wisdom.