AJ is 3 and a half years old. More exactly he is 3 years and 7 months and one week, or 43 months for those people that insist on following the month calculations past age 2, which is just too much math for me...anyway. We were having a lot of trouble with him last summer, well mostly I was having problems with him. He made it through the terrible twos just fine, not only was he still alive but we still had our sanity, it really wasn't all that bad.
He turned three and started pushing me just a little bit more every day. We moved, which he seemed to handle just fine, until he decided that he wasn't going to take a nap any longer even though he still needed it. It became a daily ritual of crankiness and attitude. He almost always ended up in tears, I cried a few times, which always shocked him into silence. He would scream and fight for so long that he would get a headache. The worst part though, he would be so over tired that instead of giving up and going to sleep he would get physical.
He would flail, throw temper tantrums and fling himself backwards. It got worse still, he started hitting me, intentionally. If I got close enough he would reach out and smack me where ever his hand reached. If I leaned back out of his reach in time he would sit up or take a step forward and try again. If I grabbed his hand he swung with the other. If he was standing and I got him in a bear hug he would knock his head into mine, if he was laying down and I pinned both his arms he started kicking me. This sort of thing only happened a couple times, but just one episode like that is enough to (A) put you over the edge and bring you to tears, and (B) have you feeling totally defeated and wondering what to do next.
I knew that it was almost entirely because he was so over tired. I was making him go to bed when he didn't want to, he was testing his boundaries and was stressed from the move (no matter how well he seemed to be taking it). Even knowing that he wasn't doing these things to be mean, it was still very hurtful. I was the only one that he acted like this with. I know that it was because he saw me all the time, he felt most comfortable with me to act like this. The same old story, you take your anger out on the people that you are nearest with, even if it has nothing to do with them, this was just the 3 year old version of that.
I stopped trying to make him take a nap every day. Sometimes he still needs one but most of the time a little quiet time does the trick, watch a few shows while laying in bed, or play with a toy on the couch. If he really needs it his body knows and he will fall asleep for an hour or so, especially after a long exciting day.
I titled this post 'our little comedian' and it has so far not been funny at all. I felt I had to share that part of AJ's life to show how different he is now, since so many people think that he is always the perfect little boy. Just about the time he hit exactly 3 and a half (around November) it was like a switch was flipped and he started becoming a 4 year old instead of acting like a 3 year old. He was figuring things out, listening, comprehending, and even reasoning. Instead of playing with toy cars he was more and more interested in how they worked and putting them together himself. He will still get upset sometimes but he knows now that there are consequences. He understands that he has to sit in timeout so that he doesn't end up in trouble and that timeout isn't the end of playtime, it's just a little pause to cool off. He has become an even more amazing little boy. He's not perfect but he knows right and wrong, not just good and bad.
His little mind is working in different ways now too. He hears something you say and can process it, remember it and use it in the proper context later that day, next week or a few months down the road. Here are two examples, really the whole point in me writing this...
* One of his toys broke the other day (a Mr. Potato Head) and he asked Momah to fix it. She was holding a cup of coffee at the time but couldn't get the parts back together with one hand so as she's putting her coffee down she says "I need two hands for this" AJ jumps into action saying "two hands coming right up" as he picks up two Mr. Potato Head arms and hands them to mom. It was so funny! He wasn't trying to crack a joke, Momah just said she needed two hands!
* He's playing with his Potato Head again and has one ear attached and is looking for the other one. He says, "mommy can you help me find the other Potato Head ear. It's like this one, right here. Get it, hear! HaHaHa!!" I cracked up! He really understood the humor in what he said. It was almost as though he had planned the joke out. He cracks himself up all the time but this was genuine funny and we all got a kick out of it.
It is such a joy to watch him grow up, I can't believe he's almost 4 years old. He is still my chubby cheeked little babycakes, next time I blink he'll be a teenager! So, we have a budding comedian in our house. Hope that doesn't turn into class clown down the road.