two versus three

12 August 2014

I know there's deep division in the moms-of-toddlers world over which is the more difficult age to weather ... is it TWO or is it THREE?

My feet are planted firmly in the "two year olds are the craziest" camp. Firmly. But, of course, this is only based on my experience with Julia and Sebastian. I might beg the three year old camp to let me pitch my tent on their territory formerly known as enemy in just a few years time.

I've found that three year olds are slightly more logical than two year olds and are happy to accept a bribe in a pinch. Two year olds are still fearless in the face of testing boundaries and totally push the envelope when it comes to faking the old, "I didn't hear/understand that emphatic 'no!!!' you just chucked my way, sorry I'm not sorry." And two year olds are not embarrassed to throw themselves on the ground in the grocery and pitch a crazy tantrum about the six toy cars and six loins of pork you refused to purchase. 

It goes without typing that every kid is so wildly different when it comes to personality and temperament but allow me to illustrate a little scenario (YEP! from the reunion!! sucking all the morrow from the zillion vacation photos) that is not uncommon in our house that proves my point ..

Sebastian earned himself a little stint in timeout for pitching a crazy on-the-ground tantrum over something totally justified, I'm sure.

Julia approaches the prisoner to try to make him feel better ...


here she's saying, "oh, Bash! You just need to forgive your mom because she's the son of God ... "

(theology lessons for tots at the Patton house, anyone? rates are SUPER reasonable!!)

Bash is not having it.


But she perseveres and moves in for some physical touch via a hand clamp/hug ...


And Sebastian responds ...


by shoving her down the stairs.

She was fine, just some bruised feelings.

(and if future Sebastian is reading this ... you had the best manners! always generous with your pleases and thank yous! just a little reluctant to shell out the apologies or affection ... )

And there we have one little manifestation and justification from my side of the fence.

But as I'm typing this Theo has speed-removed his shorts and diaper and made my feet his bladder's bullseye so we might need to revisit this debate and including 19 month olds because they are a real treat TOO. 

Strong opinions? Maybe it's a girl/boy thing? Don't give a diaper bomb? Don't know? I'd love to hear your thoughts, veteran mothren.

66 comments:

  1. Julia's theological statement reminds me of a time in our (Presbyterian) church growing up when the pastor did a children's lesson up front and asked who could name the members of the Trinity. My little brother eagerly waved his hand and said, "God, Jesus, and Mary!" My very Protestant mother was mortified.

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    1. HA. well that is a lot more impressive than anything my kids could offer!!!!

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    1. oh, good! So there is a light at the end of the toddler tunnel :) I just feel like it gets easier around three but I could be WAY off here!!!

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  3. i'm laughing out loud at my desk at julia's "son of god" comment. awkward. i really love the photography play-by-play.

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  4. Mine my 4th 1st boy is 2yrs and let's see 8 months. I'm right now praying and firmly in the 2yr old is the worst. I'm also in the pits of potty training. This morning he pooed in his undies dumped the undies and poo in the toilet messily and was trying to hide the soggy undies and tell me he did poo in the potty so he could earn his poo prize. I was busy trying to write a check at this time. I agree at 3 yr olds are a bit more logical right now he's just runs and screams and throws. I know I've seen a wee bit more maturity the last month or so as in he will want you to read to him and he will sit and do puzzles and color for a minute or two.

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  5. I agree, two year olds are their own breed of crazy. Pierce has given me a run for my money in his second year of life. But Ace at three was a force to be reckoned with in the attitude department, the kid could argue (and still can) until I am ready to call in a third party for a judgement call. BUT four, four is fun! If only Pierce could possibly go from two to four? Maybe it is a boy/girl thing, because Avalon seems so chill. I might eat my words in about year though!

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  6. The physical touch effort is hilarious!

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  7. I have 5 boys and 3 years old was the worst! They were still distract-able when they were two but by the time they turn three they know what they want and are so stubborn. I felt like everything with a three year old was a battle of wits(those three year old's are awfully clever sometimes) or stubbornness. Four years old was a golden age and I actually liked them again haha! I promise it does get better...I love having teenagers!

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  8. Haaa! My 3 year old took a big swig of the communion wine a couple of weeks ago and shouted, "I feel the FIRE of Christ in my throat mom!" It was fantastic. Especially bc she has NEVER (at least in my presence) heard anyone say that! And 2 is the absolute worst. I'm already really looking forward to it with my 12 week old...

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    1. Ha! I'm dying, that is too funny!

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    2. That is one of the BEST stories ever.

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  9. I earnestly believe ages 2-3, as in 24months through 36, are ALL bad. Maybe starting at 20. Theo, you're almost there.

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  10. I honestly think it depends on the child I've had some doozies of 2 yr olds and 3 year olds but thankfully not both in the same child so far with the exception of 1 ( out of 5) and he is now 6-almost-7 and honestly I feel like it's just in the past year and a half that I finally figured out his temperament to where I can manage a little more effectively so he's not driving me half nuts all day long. So all that to basically say guess I've got nuttin for ya when it comes down to it except that eventually they aren't toddlers anymore lol

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  11. I don't know. But as I stand at the threshold of having two 3 year olds, I am hoping 2's are worse.

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  12. I agree with you. Two is harder, in my humble opinion, because of the fearlessness/lack of reason/inability to be bribed, as you mentioned. Mostly inability to be bribed. Life always feels so much easier to me as three approaches :)

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  14. During Peter's baptism, Johnny interrupted the meditation by tugging on the priest's cassock and saying, "God, God, ummm, excuse me, God.".....

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  15. Teresa is 2 and she loooooves telling me no. James is 3 is so helpful. And honestly, all my kids came so close together and so quickly that I all I know is it's probably time to change someone's diaper.

    Also, theology: most of my kids think the priest is God. "Is God coming over?" "Where's God? Oh there he is" "Why does God wear glasses?" "I need glasses for my mass kit because God wears glasses."

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  16. I am a novice mother, but 3 has been the tougher age for my daughter. People talked about the terrible twos, but for us they were a "breeze". We had our share of tantrums, but she also developed the sweetest disposition. I am only 2 months into 3, but she has opinions now, that she can verbalize and argue. I have actually spent evenings after she went to bed crying. Just so you know I don't cry…like ever. However, lately she has been pretty good. You know parenting with Love and Logic or whatever.

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  17. Not sure yet, think it's a toss up. I sure don't miss the throwing yourself on the ground tantrums, but at three, well... some of the things you say at three in front of an audience of strangers... I just don't have words for that :)

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    1. true! maybe if we went places other than the grocery store and the hospital I would care more!!!

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  18. I think three is THE WORST. Two is more about managing energy levels, but three is about managing behavior. Three is two with intention, I always say. Three is the year in which I am continually hoarse from trying to keep the child from killing him or herself or others. I block out the three year old year, because it is just.that.bad. Add in potty training and you just have a recipe for awful. And then, four arrives, and somehow, it gets a little better, bit by bit (or in the case of one of my children, it got hugely better almost overnight). I also find the super crazy tantrums and unreasonable behavior really start at three, at least with my kids.

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    1. haha I feel like I'm always trying to keep Bash from killing himself so MAYBE it will be even worse when he turns three .... we'll see!!!

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  19. I have a two and a half year old son, and if three is worse than two, well... Three can't be worse than two, it just can't. I'm choosing to believe this and that's that.

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  20. I think three has been hardest for me...I can take the outright disobedience and block out the tantrums of a two year old, but the beginning of sneakiness, whining and attempts to bargain with a three year old...drives me over the edge. My three year old is a lot like me though, maybe that's what *really* is getting to me!

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    1. haha! there you go! Tantrums really get to me - probably why I prefer sneakiness/etc :) ... not sure what that says about me though!! ha

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  21. Mine are 6, 3.5, and 1. So far three is worse, by far. Maybe my boys are late bloomers? 1 is no walk in the park either.

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    1. well I'll have to keep you posted .... maybe two is easier with boys? We'll find out soon!!

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  22. I think 18mo to 2 years is the worst! So. Much. Emotion.

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    1. I'm with you there! Well, at least I hope it's the worst. Because it was bad, bad, badddddd.

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  23. I just stumbled across your blog today and have to tell you I love it! I have one 7 month daughter and sometimes feel like my hands are full, so reading about and being reminded of true craziness from a mother of four is so fun. Love it!!

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  24. They all be crazy. But I only have one in the form of a male two year old. So what do I know?

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  25. I just spent a weekend with four boys, ages 5, 4, 3 and 2. The 5 year old was sassy but no tantrums, the 4 year old thought the 5 year old was the bees knees and copied everything (bad) that the 5 year old did. The 3 year old wouldn't share with the 2 year old and the 2 year old mostly just looked befuddled and tried to keep up. I haven't been a parent long but I'm convinced there is no rhyme or reason to any age or gender. They're all out to get me.

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  26. Died laughing at the "hand clamp/hug" because I know exactly what you're talking about. I guess you can just send half the Patton clan to live with me and we can terrorize Chris together :)

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  27. So I'm going to put it out there and say that I found two a quite cute stage, three was ok but my oh my the emotional minefield of four has me bamboozled! (Mother of two and four year old boys!)

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  28. Two for my kids was still totally fine. I kept waiting for sh*t to get real but it never did...until they turned 3. I actively dislike my kids when they're 3. It's awful and I feel guilty about it but our 3-year-olds are just nasty. When I would ask Wes to do something he'd say "NO Mom. STOP. Just stop talking." Yes, really.

    Mercifully, by the time they turn 4 they've outgrown it and turned back into non-monsters and life is happy again.

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    1. This is almost word-for-word what I was going to say about my 3-year-old. 2 was a dream compared to this crazy train! I'm so encouraged to hear 4 might be better!

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  29. In my experience, it's ages two...and up! Don't shoot the messenger!

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  30. I call it a tie. I think they are very different forms of evil. Two for us was all about boundary testing and pushing buttons. 2 also involved a lot of painting the floor, eating Vicks vapor rub, and painting the walls with mascara. But a threenager really tested my patience with talking back, sass, and "I don't like yous" he will be turning 4 in a month do we will see what that brings. I might add we had a second boy a month before he turned 3 so the jealousy could have attributed to some of the attitude I recieve

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  31. As the mother of a 3 year old boy, I have to say that both ages 2 and 3 have sucky moments (many), but so far I'm in the 3 year old age sucks more camp. As you mentioned, 3 year olds have more reasoning ability, so they are much more manipulative and sneaky in their hijinks. At least mine is! I'm hoping 4 is better, we are ALMOST there!! Of course, I've only got the one, so I bow to your superior knowledge.... :)

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    1. definitely not superior!! It might be a boy thing ... we'll see in a few months :)

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  32. Loves J dress! Does she dress herself?

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  33. I don't know. My oldest is only a couple months into 3 and it's no joke. At least his 2 year old self was still sort of sweet and affectionate. This stage is all about the threenager.

    But his brother who is 20 months is quite something. I'm not yet sure what that is, but it's making me quite afraid of 2s and 3s yet to come!

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  34. I recently joined the moms of two-year-olds club, so this was reassuring.

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  35. laughing so hard at all this. And I'm going with the totally easy (but not in real life) answer of both ages are terrible in many ways. Good, too, but wow do they ever test your patience during these years. My little one isn't not quite two and did that exact scenario you played out just a couple days ago with her bigger sis. And my 3 year old, I don't even know what to say...she is, wow. Just wow.

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  36. Oh my goodness, your stories always have me laughing until I cry, oh son of God.

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  37. I hate one year old, personally. I find it the most exhausting stage -- a kid who is physically capable of causing so much mischief, mess and potential danger, without understanding much of their own limits, of the dangers they're messing with, and the consequences of their actions. oh yes, one is exhausting.

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  38. Wahahahaha I just cackled out loud through this entire thing.

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  39. John Rosemond always says that the "terrible twos" begin at 18 months and I have found that totally true with all of my boys. Three is a little more reasonable age, but the beginning of three was rough because they seem to be more stubborn about their opinion on things, but definitely more rational than a tantrum-ing two year old. I had one that could throw some doozies - I though that child would be the death of me.

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  40. I've only raised boy children and all three of mine were completely different. Child #1 was born GROWN. We never put away poisons or knickknacks... he self-potty trained at 2 years and 8 months by announcing, "I want to wear underwear now" and that was it. Child #2 was (and still is) the most adorable little Precious Moments looking angel that took forever to grow into his huge gorgeous eyes. At exactly 8 months old he pushed a ladder back rocking chair against the fridge and we caught him as he was hoisting himself up. Child #3 has high functioning autism and was fascinated with substances. Our house became a gallery for Poop Picassos, ketchup wallpaper and ... he is still a mess at 20. Three was better for me because of the logic/reason/bribe thing (by the way, that whole bribing thing becomes a Super Power once you have one who can drive that wants gas money!). As far as girls v. boys... I've been pretty involved in raising my nieces who are now 11 and 9 and they never had the full on meltdowns that my boys did but that might be because I'm cool Aunt Heather rather than mom or dad. I sense that Sebastian is going to be a real man's man, if you know what I mean.

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  41. My kids are German (my side) and Irish (husband's side) and I credit that for a lot of the temperament issues. They were VERY stubborn (German) and held a grudge forEVER (Irish)!! I thought Three was worse than Two because twos don't know any better, but THREES are so calculating. It was a battle of the wits. And for the girls, which are two of the five, four was drama central. I always prayed for age 7. By the time my crazies got to seven, they were so awesome. Then the teens come.... But I am happy to report that while there are always a few bumps in the road, it all passes. I have an AWESOME 23 year old ( getting married next year to a wonderful young lady) and a college junior who is coming into her own, a senior in H.S., a middle schooler and a grade schooler, and by the grace of God, I have learned that all the worst stages end at some point with a minimum of intervention and a maximum of prayer!!

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  42. I feel like most parents would be flattered if their children called them saints... but Julia has bypassed that and promoted you straight to divinity!

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  43. I have three boys, ages 2, 4 and 6.5. My oldest was sweet and easygoing until 18 months. His difficult phase really got going at about 2.5, and finally started to ease up a bit at right around when he turned 6. My second son was hell on wheels until 2.5, colic that transitioned seamlessly into terrible twos without a break, and by 3 he had leveled out considerably. The youngest has been sweet-tempered and mild since birth, so heaven only knows what is coming later with him. I'm pregnant with our fourth, and have no idea what to expect this time either! So I don't know where I fall on the 2 versus 3 debate. Bit of both?

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  44. I raised five sons, and most of them were pretty angelic until they hit three. #5 was the PERFECT child; but he blew out the three candles on his birthday cake and proceeded to spend the next year throwing epic temper tantrums. Then like magic, at four he reverted to his pre-terrible three's self. My husband and I often commented on the fact that we thought the whole "terrible two's" thing was some sort of myth, because our boys were manageable at that age. But at three-watch out! I realize all kids are different, though--but that was our experience. (BTW: they are now 30, 29, 27, 26, and 21--and they are so mellow. Not one of them flings himself on the floor and screams anymore when he doesn't get his way. I get sad about the empty-nest thing sometimes; but this is one of the perks. :))

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  45. My sister-in-law always claimed that three-year-olds were magical, and I have found that to be the case with my own kids. But 18 months-2.5 years? They were absolute terrors!

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  46. I can only speak from having an almost-18 month old who I swear is 2 1/2, based on her skill level at throwing tantrums and ignoring my repeated no-no's. I would think having a three year old would be somewhat easier, said the ignorant mama of one.

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  47. i'm no veteran, but i do spend my days with a 2 year old boy and i'd have to say you are probably right grace. in all honesty, my little dude is pretty laid back and for the most part we are able to communicate with him just fine; but the crazy tantrums have begun and ohmygosh it's not awesome at all. there's no reasoning with him. we've got a ways to go before we get to 3 years, but i'm crossing every extremity that next year will be a tad smoother :)

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  48. I can't weigh in on 2 vs 3 as I've no kids, but I read this today and it made me think of you :)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/best-parenting-tweets_n_5652212.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular
    Hilarious!

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  49. For us it's the half years that get us, our 3.5 year old is a mess right now and at 2.5 he was a mess, and don't get me started on that little hot mess of a 1.5 year old...it's like something snaps in them!!

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  50. Before I had my own children, an experienced mom told me that 'a three year old is a two year old with experience." I remember her words years later and have found them to ring true.

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  51. Well, I only have one over age 3, but 3/4 was the worst for her. I think being the oldest of several kids pushes the eldest into early maturity. It's happened with every large family I know.

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  52. LOL!! SO cute. I'm in the 3yo are harder. I heard it said once that 2yo can tell you "no" while 3yo can tell you "no" AND where to go (to hell). So true.

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