He is speaking a lot. Granted a lot of his speech is "scripted", as the SLP would say, but he's talking and I couldn't be happier about that. He will repeat himself a buga-billion times and I refuse to ever get tired of it. Ok, sometimes it makes my eyeballs twitch but I'm not complaining. He'll say "I cranky, mama. I cranky. I cranky. I cranky. I cranky" (plus fifty more times) and I answer him after each one , "you're cranky, bud?" and then "ok, wanna snuggle" and then, "wanna play with mama" and then "I hear that you are cranky. Are you ok?" and then well you get the point. It's a little insano if you aren't used to it. But I'm used to it. I try to help him move past that first thought. Eventually he stops and we can get past the first line of our conversation. But then, sometimes, he breaks my heart. Most of the time he is fine. It's when he isn't that I feel lost. And I don't know what to do. About ten percent of the time, he loses control and falls into a deep sadness. And then we have to pull out the big guns. Because he can't get unstuck and now he's overwhelmed. And I have to resist the urge to just cry along with him. Because that won't help. Instead, it's tight squeezes, loud whispers in his ear that "it's alright" on repeat, his wubby's, lights off and a bubba. That almost always does the trick. But that's really the hardest part. Beyond that, he is mastering his sensory needs and continuing to stimulate his vestibular system to work for him. I love to watch him run. He is so smooth. So fluid. It is mostly smooth sailing.
Well as smooth as the sailing can be when you are three. Which brings me to my point...
Did you know that three year old tantrums are freaking nuts? I mean, whoa. Pants has reached the tantrum mountain top. Two year old tantrums are like soft baby kitten whispers in comparison. There are times when I am stunned silent by the sheer commitment he will give to a proper tantrum. It is on like Donkey Kong when I interfere in his master plan. But sometimes I have to do just that and brace for the storm (read: run away).
I am not a helicopter mom. I am very big on choosing battles, letting my kids fall down and not being on top of their decision making but of course, I have to draw some lines. Shutting yourself in the dryer? Sorry dude. I don't think so. Other off limits activities? Swinging from the curtains and going Superfly Snuka on your sister. Oh and using the bed as a ramp for your ride on cars. I mean, you'd think the first time he went ass over head, he might have learned it was a bad idea. But you'd be wrong. He didn't learn that. Instead he learned that practice should make perfect. Normally a reasonable conclusion. And one I would encourage if it didn't mean broken bones and stitches. These kids get a whole lot of say in how they live their lil lives, because I think that is super important. But it would also seem that Mr. Pants could care less about how awesome I think that is, and instead would like to remind me that he can bring the world crashing down around us if he so chooses. And well, I'm sure that the neighbors still hate us very much.
Especially since my newest strategy to end the tantrum is to ignore it. I'll say something simple like, "I'm sorry you are so angry/sad/frustrated/effing pissed. That was not a safe choice. I'll be ready to play/read a book/go outside/eat lunch when you are done yelling" and I walk away/run for my life.
The tantrums are getting a bit shorter. A tiny bit. But a bit, none the less. So I believe my plan is working. We should be tantrum free in about four years if my calculations are correct. Ten minute tantrums are now down to about nine and half minutes. Nine and a half minutes of ear splitting volcanic crazy. And then he is back. My son returns to me from the edge of doom. A precious lamb (or an indifferent side-eyeing angry tiny human who won't talk to me just yet but who worked some self- regulation magic on himself, sauntered into living room and will get back to me when he can look at me again).
It would seem three is when the forces of evil and good begin warring in each of us. And it is our job as parents to help them get through it. One face exploding tantrum at a time.