Tales of a “Threenager”
By Samantha G. Clark
I always thought “Terrible Twos” meant just that, kids were horrible from two years of age until three, and then miraculously returned to their cute, chubby former self. I couldn’t have been more naïve. Let me introduce you to my three-year-old dictator, who we affectionately call, Vivienne. The entire house runs around her moods and her wants. We literally walk on egg shells around her, most often because she insists on “helping” me cook breakfast. I never thought I would allow a tiny tyrant to rule my life, but I do, and after this one story, you will understand why.
My children eat their way through Publix. Hopefully I am not the only one. We start with the cookies, then we head over to the deli for popcorn chicken and finally, we finish with some pretzels. (Or Cheetos, or goldfish or all of the above.) I was braving the grocery store with all four of my children, so I let them choose any snack. A child who is eating, isn’t talking.
Unfortunately for me, today Publix was out of popcorn chicken and it would be at least 15 minutes for them to cook some more. Apparently, the deli manager didn’t realize how long 15 minutes is in the mind of a 3-year-old. Vivienne was appalled that there wasn’t any chicken ready, and decided to silently protest by kicking her shoes off, unbeknownst to me. I was able to distract her about the chicken debacle and coax her into eating some cheese. As we are walking down a different aisle, I noticed the missing shoes and quickly told Viv to put them back on. I felt the rage in her glare and saw her eyes begin to well and my oldest daughter quickly said, “Mommy, don’t poke the bear,” (a frequently used phrase in our house).
I agreed with my eldest’s assessment and decided to let Viv walk around barefoot. Yes, you heard that correctly, I let me three-year-old walk around Publix without any shoes on. In truth, she wasn’t wearing any underwear and wearing her Moana costume for the 3rd day in a row because those weren’t battles I felt like fighting that morning. At the same moment, a manager politely said to me, “Ma’am, your daughter needs to wear shoes in the store.” I replied, “By all means try your best to get her shoes back on.” The manager turned around to hear the shrill, high-pitched scream of my daughter who was definitely finished with her silent protest.
The manager quickly decided to let us keep going and just told Viv to sit in the cart. She turned around, shot him a dirty look, and kept walking. Luckily, our popcorn chicken was finished cooking so we made our way back over to the deli counter, amidst dirty looks and stares of patrons who witnessed the temper tantrum. I quickly gave Viv the chicken to silence her, and then as I was handing her the container, my youngest mistakenly hit Viv’s hand and knocked the chicken to the floor, spilling its contents. As you can imagine, this was followed by even more screaming and crying and now a barefoot, hysterical Moana was laying on the ground trying to eat the chicken off the floor. I did what most wouldn’t and I LET HER! I still had to make it to the frozen foods section and that chicken was going to get me through it.
I made it to the checkout lane, almost unscathed. The manager who asked me to put Viv’s shoes on earlier, graciously told us we could go in the express lane even though we had a full cart. He even jumped on the register and checked us out. He gave me a knowing look as he glanced at her bare feet and handed her another container of popcorn chicken. This gave her the biggest smile I had seen all day. We gave our thanks and headed out the door, we almost made it and then, “Boom!” The cart wiggled over the threshold and Vivienne’s new container of popcorn chicken crashed to the floor. The screaming and crying came back full force and I quickly ran out of the store before anyone heard her again. The caring manager told me, “Just go,” as he swept up the second round of popcorn chicken we spilled.
You all can imagine what happened next, it was an epic battle of strength trying to get my crying child in the car seat with the seatbelt buckled. I threw my groceries in the trunk and headed straight to Total – I mean home. That is when I decided that I would take a two-year-old over my “threenager,” any day.