She said, "Do you know what they call a three year old?"
"What?" I asked.
"A two year old with a year of experience."
Yep. That sounds about right...but only on some days. My boys certainly have their moments that are aggravating beyond belief like throwing a tantrum because I gave them a blue plate instead of a green plate. Or worse yet the scream because they asked for a purple band-aid and I actually gave them a purple band-aid. Call the cops and throw me in jail!
And yet some days I have great days with my children. (Although I should clarify that "great" is a relative term.) They are able to amuse themselves for long periods of times, now. I'm actually able to read books, read more than three sentences before hearing someone yell, "Daaaaaaaaaaddy!" and write a blog. Now that we have figured out to give them the exact same number and type of trains there are 90% less fights about who gets which "chugger." And even those days when I'm out of green plates and a boy has to have a blue plate is often not a big deal. They are learning self-control more and more every day.
They are also learning to team up against me which I secretly love. One day I took away some trains and Jeff broke down crying. Aaron told Jeff, "Don't worry, Jeff, I'll get your train back for you." I was so close to giving in...but I stayed strong. I wanted to reward them helping each other, but I knew as soon as Jeff got the Thomas train and Aaron got the Percy train there would be fights again. It was hard to say no to such cuties.
Speaking of self-control, I do believe we are now potty trained. Hooray. I see my Costco bill magically shrinking since we won't need $100 worth of diapers every month. Aaron has been potty trained pretty well for a couple months. I give credit to Derek who was fearless enough to tackle it when I was away for 48 hours. Jeff got potty trained for a day or two (I think) and then decided since he mastered it he didn't need to do it any more. Once again, success came when I was out of town for 48 hours and my in-laws were here. I have spent the last week or some mostly homebound looking at pee and poop. It's quite the spectacle. When one boy goes poop the other has to come see it. If poop remains that exciting to them I'll either have future dog walkers, toilet paper manufacturers, or GI doctors.
The other big news is that I have had a hard time finding and keeping a great sitter with a schedule that works for me so this week we are going to do a trial run at a daycare center. Daycare in MA is ridiculously expensive but I'm ready to take a small, financial loss in return for some hours off, getting myself back into my profession and giving my kids a chance to experience a group. We have done play groups and the boys do well there so I'm not very worried about daycare. I talked to them about a place with a lot of toys and teachers and boys and girls but daddies aren't allowed. Aaron seemed scared but Jeff said, "Don't worry, Aaron, I'll play with you."
For the last two weeks they have been sleeping on a spare queen size mattress together. Some of my friends are impressed that they will be near each other. I guess I should feel proud that I'm doing something right. They are standing up for each other, consoling each other, and sleeping next to each other without a fight. Plus, if I'm going to brag a little more, sometimes they eat their vegetables first. I'm pretty proud of the fact that they will hold off on their noodles to eat their broccoli.
They just got accepted into a public school program this fall for 3 year old kids which is another reason to test out the group setting with daycare. Even though I'm looking forward to being able to run an errand 23 times faster and watch more Netflix (sorry, Derek, but it's true), I'm already freaking out a little bit that I won't have them home with me all day every day. However, when I feel that fear I just remind myself that I miss my career, there are only so many hours a day I can watch them play with trains, and someone will read them "Please Mr. Panda" 17 times a day and it won't be me!
These three years have been hard. The lack of sleep, the "loss" of my career, a move to a new city where I don't know anyone, never having time for Derek, the tantrums, the boys' constant fighting over toys, the fear that I'm doing everything all wrong...but I'm just starting to feel like I'm doing OK and all the mistakes I have made over these last few years are overshadowed by the successes. I see Jeff and Aaron's personalities growing stronger and stronger. I see Aaron's empathy and excitement for life and Jeff's incredible math skills and sense of humor. I think we will all survive the threes.