A lot is said about third children and youngests in general. They are apparently expected to be wilful and rebellious. Rule-breakers. I’m not a great believer in stereotyping based on the order you are born in but my third is proving to be something of a handful, so perhaps there is something in it.
I’ve mentioned before that our Baby T is pretty naughty (see Kidding Myself) but the closer we get to the Terrible Twos, the more obvious it becomes that that naughtiness ain’t going anywhere. It is, in fact, building at quite a rate.
T still isn’t my trickiest toddler because H, the eldest, was a horror with blind rages and terrible moods. Baby T is nothing like his brother in that respect. He is a happy chap for the most part. He is just plain cheeky and doesn’t respect rules in the least. He is far and away the naughtiest of the three and he is breaking new territory in our family. I had two kids who stopped when you told them not to run away. They had their moments and were certainly not angels but, for the most part, they understood that certain rules should be respected.
What they did not do was look at me when I told them to stop running away, grin and then speed up, running at full toddle towards a busy road or steep drop. They did not stare at me in a challenging way before picking up whatever item I’ve asked them not to throw and lobbing it across the room with all their might. And they certainly didn’t laugh when I use my most serious cross voice. H actually used to cry when that voice was used. M looked a bit scared. T finds it funny. What am I supposed to do with that?
The running off worries me a lot, I have to admit. Both of the older two would keep a close eye on where I was, for fear of getting lost, even at T’s young age. Apart from two memorable disappearing acts by H when he ran ahead too far in excitement as a toddler, he stuck pretty close to me and M was exactly the same. T just runs for the sake of running away, if the mood takes him. I haven’t yet risked seeing how far he would go and I have to say he does at least look back to see what impact his Usain Bolt act has had on his poor mother, so I have hope that he might stop before hitting the horizon. But I really wouldn’t count on it.
This naughtiness can be hard to quantify. The older two could be little terrors too in their way. But there is just something in that look he gives me. Anyone who has ever looked T in the eye whilst he engages in an act of rebellion would know when I mean. It is a look for total defiance, without even a flicker of guilt. He might as well be sticking two fingers up at me. He totally adores me, of that I am never in doubt, and he hasn’t got a malicious bone in his body. But I think he also wonders, if he pushes just a little harder, whether he might perhaps make a challenge for leadership one day soon.
T looks me right in the eye with that look and says “Screw you, Mummy, this is what I’m gonna do. I’m going to do it just because you have told me not to. And what the hell are you gonna do about it, eh?” Currently, the answer is – not a lot. He is too young to bargain and negotiate with. He totally ignores verbal commands and cross voices. I’m left having to resort to forcibly removing the thing he is throwing repeatedly to get a rise out of me, or physically restraining him in his pushchair to prevent the latest great escape. It’s not a lot of fun for either of us.
But T is clearly no dummy. The feisty spark in his eyes shows me that. I’m relying on it to be honest, because bright kids soon work out how to get their way. Ending up without his lobbed toy or screaming in a pushchair is definitely not what he wants. Hopefully, he will join the dots soon and begin the basics of the endless bargaining and bribery that plays such a massive role in parenting. Well, at least it does in my house. Where we’d be without bribery, I dread to think.
My rule-breaking third. My terrible T. My adorable, charming little bundle of cheek and challenge. He seems determined to increase the number of grey hairs on my head and to force me to learn new parenting techniques just to keep up with him. It’s going to be quite a journey.
But all is forgiven immediately with one of his disarming smiles and trademark monster cuddles.