Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Not The Terrible Twos You Have To Worry About: It's The F^&#ing Fours

Sometime last year, I was at one of the monthly support meetings thrown by my local parents of multiples club, and the club co-president was decrying "The F^%#ing Fours," the phase her twin boys were going through. She said, "Everyone talks about the terrible twos. But no one warns you about the fucking fours!"

At the time, I just laughed, and figured maybe she was exaggerating. Maybe she'd had a particularly hard day with her boys, two kids I'd only glimpsed at club events, where they were invariably well-behaved and adorable.

But now I know about the F^%#ing Fours. And I want them to be Fucking Over.

Okay, not entirely. Four has mostly been a fun age, a better age, an age during which my kids have learned to use three and even four-syllable words, play together without need of near-constant intervention by a referee, go to the bathroom before going to sleep, and only rarely wet the bed. They eat more and different foods (maybe not vegetables, but you can't have it all), and they're easier for one parent to manage on a trip to the mall, the store, or the movies.

But lately, at least one of the kids -- Thing 1, my son -- has entered into a new and infuriating stage, the "I will whine about everything and throw a fit if I don't get exactly what I want, when I want it" phase. This morning, he could not handle the concept that he wouldn't be able to get the toy Late Blooming Dad had procured for him at a baseball game -- thunder sticks -- because he was refusing to eat his breakfast. He threw another fit because he had forgotten to take a different toy to school with him. And he proceeded to go "batshit" in the back seat of the car -- "batshit" being the technical term for kicking, screaming, and crying at a pitch designed to induce headaches in all but the most Zen parents.

Thing 1 is sometimes egged on by, or inspired into, his poor behavior by his sister, who though technically the same age (well, younger by two minutes), knows better and is developmentally advanced enough to realize that throwing a fit is NOT gonna get her what she wants. Though she went through something of a Fucking Fours state around three-and-a-half -- isn't it typical of the girl to hit the behavioral milestone sooner? -- she manages to regress quite dramatically on occasion.

Tonight that occasion was the minute we arrived home, when she demanded Late Blooming Dad carry her over the threshold into the apartment. Dad, who was busy cooking dinner and had already taken his shoes off, refused, asking her to just come inside. This prompted a five-minute crying fit that included dragging herself along the floor on her back, while refusing to take off her shoes or get up.

You'd think the gods of parental hell would have taken compassion on us then and let us off the hook for the night. But it was not to be. Thing 1 refused to sit for much of dinner, or to eat his food without assistance he no longer really needs. He lay on the floor demanding to be carried, and we responded by ignoring him for about fifteen minutes... though it seemed more like the 100 Years' War before it was over.

His fits continued in fits and starts, interrupted by instances of him spitting and then being given a time-out for having done so. Somehow or other, he calmed down enough to get into PJs and brush his teeth. But come bedtime, it was Torture-Your-Parents Hour again. He wound up getting a time-out, but since he wasn't going to stay in the family room alone, I sat in there with him and made up a bedtime story about dinosaurs that seemed to calm him at last.

He's in bed now, after one last talk from me about how being difficult means you don't get TV, you don't get toys, you don't get a treat, or anything else you really want. I hope it sunk in, but my suspicion is, to paraphrase Jackson Browne, when the morning light comes streaming in, he'll get up and do it again.

The co-president of the twins club warned me. I should have known they were coming. All I can do now is hope to hunker down and get through them ... and for those of you who have kid or kids younger than mine, CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!

1 comment:

reinette said...

Thanks for sharing, I am going through the exact thing with my son that just turned four. I had no idea about this either and he never really hit the terrible two's either. So does this all pass at some stage? Really struggling. Thanks Reinette