I started this post MONTHS ago right after R’s bday when we were still living in the apartment. I finally got around to finishing it up so I decided to go ahead and post it. Life has been NUTS!
I have so many emotions. I find myself constantly looking back at photos and videos of Ritter when he was younger and I just can’t believe how much he’s changed in what seems like such a short amount of time. He looks at them with me sometimes and will say to Eric, “Daddy, we are looking at pictures of me when I was a baby!” And they are from less than a year ago. Ha. The way his language continues to grow so steadily is just amazing. His personality is big. So big. He’s instantly famous everywhere we go. He’s on a first name basis with every server at Fancy’s and they actually referred to me as “Ritter’s mom” when I was in there the other day without him…”Hey! You’re Ritter’s mom!” Seriously!?
Ritter remains, as always, thoughtful, cautious and observant. He is always observing what is going on around him and always cautious in new situations or with new people. He is also highly concerned with danger or anything that could hurt him. The other day we were walking down the sidewalk and he said “I’m going to walk, not run, because if I run I could fall and get hurt.” HA! We go to the park alot and he will run and play but there’s this element of caution in everything he does. He wants to feel everything out and watch others for a while before he tries new things. Part of me loves this because he’s not the typical boy who is wild and rambunctious and gets injured easily. But I also don’t want him to fear things so I encourage him to try new things often. Sometimes it just takes a while to convince him. He’s also become very shy lately – more than in the past – and although it bugs me I just try to remind myself that he’s 3 and he will outgrow it. Once he warms up he’s fine but he’s initially very shy.
I think the biggest change I’ve seen over the last few months has been with Ritter’s ability to really talk about and process things after the fact. Like…when he gets upset about something he is able to come back and talk about it and explore his feelings about it. Obviously, being a therapist, this is really important to me and makes me super proud. Ritter is a very typical three year old in the fact that he really wants his independence and really wants things when he wants them. So…we are working on patience and I’m trying to let him do as much as possible himself. We give lots of choices but obviously there are plenty of times that I have to say no or set a limit and most of the time he goes along just fine…but when he’s tired or sick or hungry…that usually brings about some stomping of the feet and yelling. He will say “no mommy, you can’t do that” or “I’m mad at you mommy” (which is actually really funny but I try not to laugh). I always validate his feelings and tell him that it’s okay to be mad at me…but that I can’t change whatever it is that I have set a limit about. I give him time to calm down – which he usually does quickly – and then I go to him and we talk about why he was mad and why I had to set the limit that I did. I usually explain why I can’t let him put his fingers in the light socket or eat ice cream for breakfast (or whatever it is) and he typically understands and moves right along. I LOVE that we can have these conversations.
We’ve also started talking about the concept of trust. He wants to know a reason behind everything and often likes to dig in his heels until he gets an answer or an explanation. That’s all completely normal and developmentally appropriate but sometimes I can’t give him a reason for one reason or another and I have started asking him to trust me. I also use it when he doesn’t want to try a new food or new activity. And I’ll say “I know trying new things is scary but I want you to trust mommy, I’m sure that you will like it.” Then after he tries it and likes it he will say “I trusted you mommy!!” It’s the BEST!!!! I’m also trying to trust him more..he will insist on doing something himself when I’m nervous to allow him to – and I’ll say “okay mommy is going to trust you.” Or…when he insists that he doesn’t need to go potty even when I think he does and I’ll say “okay if you say you don’t need to go I will trust you!”
He’s also super concerned with how others are feeling all the time. And he’s super sensitive. We can’t watch an episode of Doc McStuffins or Curious George if one of the characters gets hurt or gets sad. He even cries when George gets into trouble. When he requests to watch Doc on Apple TV we have to shuffle through all of the episodes until we find one that he is okay with …”not that one mommy, Stuffy falls and gets hurt,” … “not that one, Donny gets sad and runs away,” … “not that one, Lamby gets sad.” The struggle is so real y’all. Even though he knows that it’s all okay in the end of the episode, he gets SO sad when the characters are sad or hurt and just can’t stand to watch it. Like cries and cries. And if I insist we watch it anyway he begs me to fast forward to the end where everything is all better. I guess he’s probably going to be like me and hate horror movies. ha. He even got upset this morning in one of the episodes where two toy knights were jousting and knocking each other off of their horses. He couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to knock another person off of their horse. I had to go into this whole explanation about how it was a competition – like a game – and he just thought it was so mean. I’m afraid to even allow the olympics to just be randomly playing in the living room for the fear that wrestling or boxing will come on because he wouldn’t be able to understand why people would fight and hurt each other for fun. Needless to say – I don’t have an aggressive child – and for that I’m incredibly thankful. I went to pick him up from school the other day and his friend Lisa ran up to hug him goodbye. She was super enthusiastic and got a little aggressive with her hugging and sorta tackled him and they fell – oh lord he couldn’t understand why Lisa pushed him when she’s his friend. (Insert eye rolling emoji here – the struggle is so real)
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that he’s completely potty trained. Did it all by himself and has been a rock star. I had been asking for months and he just kept saying “I’ll use the potty when I get bigger.” So I wasn’t planning to push it until he turned 3. I’ve always read that the closer they are to age 3 when potty training, the more successful they tend to be. If you push it too early, they tend to have regressions. So he just woke up one day about 3 months ago and said “I want to use the potty now.” And that was it. I was scrambling to buy pull ups and underwear because I totally wasn’t prepared. But like with everything else, Ritter does things on Ritter’s time. We started with just using the potty here at home and using pull ups when out in public. He only had 2 accidents here at the house and that was it. We got him completely trained in a couple of days here at home but the following monday at school he wouldn’t use the potty there. He told me that day that their potty was too loud when it flushes, ha, so the next day I sent a note asking them to flush it after he goes out. That was all he needed – he’s been using the potty at school ever since. I wasted money on pull ups thinking that potty training would be this long, drawn out process and it wasn’t. He went straight to underwear and never looked back! We still use a diaper or pull up at night just in case – but most mornings he wakes up dry! So proud of him. OH…and the kid can hold it for hours and hours – it’s crazy. I remind him constantly go to potty and he’s always going “I don’t need to mommy, I’ll go when I need to.” And I’m always paranoid that he’s holding it too long and that he’ll have an accident but he never does – he knows his body. It’s baffling to me though because I pee every 30 minutes. Ha.
Ive always heard 3 is much harder than 2 and I thought it was all hogwash. Ritter has always been a pretty easy kid and I figured it would just get easier the older he got and the more he was able to reason. I was wrong. 3 is proving challenging. He first started having temper tantrums around 18 months but Eric and I got on the same page about how to respond to them and they went away pretty quickly. For the most part Ritter is agreeable but, lately, if he’s hungry or tired and doesn’t get his way about something, he is losing his damn mind. Like screaming and stomping his feet and the other day he kicked the back of my seat in the car. Like, hard! He is so fiercely independent and wants a say in EVERYTHING. The crap he loses his mind over is just ridiculous. I know know know know KNOW that this is normal and everyone jokes about it…but it makes it no less baffling when it’s your kid. Ha. I mean..if you cut the waffle one way instead of the other…or if you put on the blue boxers instead of the red ones…or god forbid you told him he would have cereal for breakfast and then realize daddy ate it all… be prepared for the wrath. It’s legit like a switch was flipped. I have read and read and it all says the same..normal normal normal. But it’s a challenge. I’m lucky that he recovers quickly but we are often quite inconvenienced because we work real hard to stick to our word and be consistent with how we respond.
I also think the current state of craziness in our lives contributes greatly to his fussiness. We are all cramped in this apartment without a place for him to really run and play…all of our stuff is in storage…and Eric and I are both stressed and tired all the time. We work hard to get good quality time with him but it’s not the same in this apartment. But…we move in TWELVE days!!! We could not be more ready!
All in all, I think it’s hard enough just being 3. You’re not a baby anymore but you’re not a big kid. There’s alot you can’t do and people are always telling you what to do, what to wear, how to act, what to eat, etc. It seems Ritter changes his mind by the minute. Some days he digs in his heels about stuff that has NEVER been an issue before..and I just try to remind myself that he’s trying really hard to develop some independence and I need to give him grace when I can. It’s been a hard time for me too. I struggle constantly ..I worry I’m too busy and not giving him enough attention…I worry I give him too much attention and that he’s spoiled. I worry that there’s too much TV, not enough structure, blah blah blah. At the end of the day he is my number one priority…I’ll never feel like I’m doing it right but I try to remind myself that I love him and always put his needs first. And that’s all that matters.
A note about Ritter’s birthday party…
The party was at my mom’s gym. One of those “package” deals where you pay a certain amount and they handle everything. It didn’t exactly go that way. But it’s too long of a story to post. Ha.. Overall the kids enjoyed it and they ate junk which is all they really wanted right? I was so stressed with the house and was just glad to have a place to have it since our house wasn’t finished by his birthday. I forgot my camera though – total mom fail – so these few photos are ones friends took and sent to me 😦 It will be a rockstar 4th birthday for sure!