Sunday, March 3, 2013

A day in the life of the growing Frontal Lobe

How do you wear your rose-colored glasses?

I just about peed my pants reading Jason Good's essay 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out (sample: "A balloon he got six months ago is missing."). There are literally 500 comments, and some of them are even funnier than the original post, beginning with the grandma "Omabird," who wrote, "Perhaps it is why God, in his great love and mercy, made old people deaf."

A related Slate article reveals the brain science that routinely changes your three-year-old into Sybil. If your child is three, or ready to turn three, I implore you to read this article, and post it on your fridge. This simple story has offered new levels of patience to me that are literally saving my bacon. It seems that an undeveloped frontal lobe (no sense of time, planning, logic or patience), a constant fear that their parents will abandon them, and under-stimulation from the natural world all conspire to create meltdowns where you least need them, according to the article by Melinda Wenner Moyer. And let me add: Fatigue. God help you if you push the window at 4pm on a no-nap day in store.

Doesn't that sound a lot more reasonable than, "OMG he just freaked out over nothing!"

I'm a fairly paitient person, but the constant meltdown/negotiation/resolution process has been wearing  a bit. I mean, really? Does every effing thing require a full, screaming meltdown? Especially from my usually calm, reasonable boy? A couple of days ago Starboy had a freakout at the fabric store that involved crying, hitting, flinging his shoes in different directions, taking off running (with other shoppers quietly pointing out where he was for me), and crawling around on the filthy floor. Ultimately I had to carry him out (and then back in again, and out again, because they didn't validate my parking. $%@!).

Why the high drama?  Because he did not want the mice printed on the fabric to be separated when our yardage was cut. He wanted the mice all to stay together smoothly on the bolt.


And that's what I get for fabric shopping at 4pm on a no-nap day. And parking in a lot with a one-hour free parking limit, at a store with glacial customer service.

Inspired by my utter misunderstandings of the Age Three Experience, I kept track of a day's worth Starboy's issues on a recent low-meltdown day. That's right, this was one of the easier days lately. Each instance resulted in some amount of crying or drama, up to kicking and boneless body-planting in place (and most involved some level of negotiation/problem-solving to resolve):

Wants another half bagel for breakfast.

Wants both bagel halves on the plate at the same time.

Doesn't want water to drink.

Doesn't want to rinse jam from bagels off hands.

Wants to hear a Martin and Sylvia audio story, not Junkyard Tales.

Doesn't want to leave art class, which has ended.

Wants a "special" food (read: a sweet or a muffin) before leaving art class.

Wants a "special" toy (read: new, or one saved for restaurants) to hold on the way home.

Doesn't want to get out of the car at home.

Wants orange melon (which Techman and I had finished b/c he didn't want any).

Wants to eat his snack in back yard, not front yard.

Doesn't want "only cheese" for his snack (hardboiled egg is on plate with "only cheese").

Wants to wash hands at the kitchen sink, not the bathroom sink.

Wants me to flush the toilet together with him.

Did not want me to actually flush with him when we counted to three.

Wants Daddy to help him in the bathroom, not mommy.

There have been few times in my life that I have reached 9:30 in the morning and thought to myself, "You know, a beer would be pretty good about now." I don't even really like beer. Of course, at this rate, I'd be drinking a six a day, so I've been keeping it to root beer and Cokes. But I may be moving on to earplugs.

What hard-to-understand logic has your preschooler offered up lately? What helps you get through it, and keeps your child feeling secure?

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