Friday, September 15, 2006

I have become "that mother" at the pool, the school and the grocery store. The mother who is peeling her child off the candy bars. The mother who must explain to the parent of a preschooler why her child is sporting a black eye administered by her offspring. The mother of the kid in Goldfish class who spent half the class in a time-out.
Oh joy.
It isn't really that our third born is going to be the next Ted Bundy, he's just a third child. And male. And has seen way too many video games while his brother plays... OK, probably not going to be the next Ted Bundy.
He's three and a half, a dangerous age even in the most "compliant" child. Our friends used to describe our older two, now eleven and fourteen, as "compliant children", as if they were miraculous and problem-free. Yes, our daughter never gave anyone a black eye, but she did pull a mean girl when she was three, and I still had to disengage her from my leg with a crow-bar when she was eight.
Regarding our older son, folks just didn't know him at this age. He was smaller, yes, and had a less powerful throwing arm (it doesn't help that our third born is on the severe end of the height spectrum, and our other two were barely on the chart at that age), but he still managed to throw a fit or two that left me with buyer's regret about this parenthood stuff.
Third children have guardian angels looking over them, but they also have a devil on the other shoulder telling them they need all the attention NOW. They are tired of sharing, being driven all over town for the other kids' activities, and need to assert themselves with every breath.
We attempted a playdate the other day with another three year old boy, a sweet youth with an angelic face and a penchant for golf. I described the aborted effort (we called it quits after less than half an hour, before blood was shed) as being horrifying, and that our son was practically making death threats, and then had to correct myself. OK, yes, he had made death threats. Three year olds are so, um, passionate.
Fortunately he is starting preschool with a teacher highly trained in conflict resolution, and with much experience of wild boys with good throwing arms. Then there will be Sunday School soon to urge further nonviolent solutions. Library story hour might have to wait.
Maybe it isn't surprising that our adult friends are afraid to sit him...
Having been through this twice before, to a greater or lesser degree, I am not terribly worried when the fur flies, but I can see the Bambi in the headlights look on the faces of parents with ONLY CHILDREN. They are appalled by our son's abandoned behavior, and cannot fail to think that I am a HORRIBLE mother who allows him to run wild.
Well, we did decide to repress him less than our firstborn, who has oldest child control syndrome, and demand he be less "nice" than our daughter, who fulfills the stereotype of nurturing female (while being a kick-ass feminist).
So yes, I guess we have allowed him to run a little wild. He's fun.
And he says thank you and please regularly, shared his cookies with today's playdate (between sharing crises), is gentle with the dog and loves to read, so he can't be all bad.
He is a third and beloved wild child, learning to curb his emotions, not kill them.

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