In the last year, as I struggled with Harrison and the Terrible Twos, I had more than my fair share of people telling me: “Just wait. Three is worse.” ‘Scuse me?! No offense, but I wanted to kick each and every one of them in the shins (and some of them are my very dear friends!).
What I’ve come to realize now, though, as we have moved out of the Twos and into the Threes is that no new age or stage is really any better or any worse; each one is just different. You get different highs and you get different lows at Year Three than you did at Year One. Shoot. I think you get different highs and lows from Month Six to Month Nine (but that’s a different post about a different kid!). All of this is a revelation to me because I neither spent much time around young children nor did much babysitting when I was younger. This whole parenting of small ones gig really has been eye opening to say the least.
One of my favorite aspects of watching small ones get bigger is being witness to the growth of their amazing personalities. At three, Harrison is already so, so….well, so Harrison. I can’t imagine him any other way. It is intriguing to think about the characteristics he already displays and where they might lead him in life. Here are a few….
Assertive: What can I say? The kid knows what he wants. And, because he is so verbal, he is able to let us know what he wants. I was trying to explain this to a random mom at Baby Weighs last week and her response was, “Oh, so he’s argumentative.” Well, no. That’s not what I meant at all, actually. My example was this: if Harrison asks for something, say birthday cake, and you tell him that sorry, we’d don’t have any birthday cake in the house right now (and really, you don’t), he will look at you (and sometimes point as well) and say, “Yes you do.” OK. So maybe that comes across as argumentative to some, but I don’t think he is arguing just to argue. I think that in his three-year-old understanding of the world and words, he believes he can make it so by saying it is so. A friend came up with a great label for this: Jedi in Training. See how good that is?! It’s like he’s perfecting his Jedi Mind Tricks with these statements and perhaps, someday, he’ll change the point to a wave of the hand and maybe say, “Cake you have” and cake there will be. Who knows! (But I wouldn’t put it past him!)
Perceptive: Harrison is very good at reading a person’s mood or the climate of a room/group. He is able to pick up and run with it, good or bad. If people seem happy and are playing, he dives right in and joins them. Enthusiastically. From our early days when he was a toddler first playing at the Children’s Museum to just this last weekend when we were at a park in Pierre, SD, he just goes up to kids and makes friends; he plays with no reservations. His two introverted parents often stand watching him with mouths gaping wide at this continued phenomenon. Seriously. We don’t know where he gets it, but his heart is so open to people and the world at large. By the same token, he can often sense when I am upset or frustrated, so I am learning to curb my own attitude so as to not pass so much of it on to him. I sincerely hope I can succeed at this because he already feels so much; I don’t want him to have to deal with my emotions all the time, too. Perhaps the sweetest example of this, though, also came during our recent trip to SoDak. Of course it’s easy to know that someone is upset when they are crying, as Raegan was doing in her car seat as we went from one activity to the next. It was HD’s response that demonstrates his understanding of moods…he leaned toward her as best he could from his own seat and said, “It’s OK, Raegge. Don’t cry!” and then he proceeded to sing her “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Not only did he get her to stop crying, he even made her laugh before we got to our destination. I could have cried myself at his love and care for her.
Energetic: I used to consider myself an active and even athletic person. Now, compared to my son (and don’t even get me started on his sister), I look like a couch potato. Harrison is active and athletic and busy and moving quite a bit. That’s just what he does. He occasionally sits still to watch PBS or play on the Campfire, but even those activities don’t last more than 30 minutes. We’ve never taken him to a movie because, quite frankly, I don’t think he’d want to sit there for that long to watch it. Lately his favorite TV-related thing to do is play Wii, which as you know, requires you to get off your butt and DO. It is perfect for him. It will be so interesting to see what he decides to do for extracurriculars some day. He absolutely loves music and singing along with songs. He also loves sports and has a remarkable arm for such a little guy. I could see him going far in the arts or athletics. Maybe he’ll do both. Doesn’t matter to us, so long as he isn’t stretched too thin and is enjoying himself. Lord knows he’ll have the energy to do a lot; it will be our job to help him find the activities that really fit and allow him to shine.
Intense: If you couldn’t tell by the first three attributes I described, Harrison lives big. He says a lot, feels a lot, and does A LOT. Every day he is going, going, going and I think sometimes he gets carried away with all that there in the world or all that he is feeling. All of this makes him a little intense, which is overwhelming for some of the more mellow people we meet in our day-to-day. Because he so often wants to charge ahead in life, we have to work at helping him slow down a bit and give people space; this is hard for him to accept at times, but eventually he will learn that just as people accept his personality and preferences, so too must he accept theirs. Another element of intensity for HD comes through in his rather serious demeanor. This is not to say that he isn’t a happy child, but he does not laugh or goof off as easily as some others. Ben and I are also both pretty serious, so we’re not sure if he just got this from us or if it is a first born thing or something else. There is nothing wrong with this characteristic; it just means that even with his big imagination, Harrison takes life pretty literally. Trust me – he will let you know if you’ve taken the wrong road to Kearney or said the wrong words while singing a song! Ben sometimes tries to change words on him on purpose, but like his mama, he doesn’t care for teasing as an avenue of humor. I think one of our biggest goals with raising HD may be helping him find comfortable ways that do allow him to see the lighter side of life, for again, he feels so much and he’ll need to have ways to release some of that pressure as he grows.