I feel as though I am stuck in the middle of the Age 3 Theater Production from hell. Ryan is the orchestra conductor and I’m scrambling to play all the instruments in the right order and at the right tempo.
He’s always been an everything-in-its-place sort of kid. He organizes his toys, puts things back exactly where he found them, must have the applesauce in the top right section of his plate, etc.
But we’ve moved beyond the typical “I need the GREEN cup!” stuff. Now, he’s discovered the joys of role playing, and this discovery has added a whole new level of frustration to everyday chores.
For example. Every time Ryan has to go to the bathroom, this is what happens:
1. He tells me he has to go on the potty and then stares at me until I nod and start walking toward the stairs, at which point he yells that he has to go first and runs past me up the steps.
2. At the top of the stairs, he waits for me to walk into the bathroom and then tells me to start closing the door. I have to yell “the door is closing!” so that he can let out a girly “aaaaahhhhhhh!” squeal as he runs into the bathroom.
3. Once the door is closed, he exclaims “Oh no! We’re gonna get stuck! How we gonna get out!?!” Then he decides we’ll have to call a superhero to help get us out of the bathroom.
4. Once he’s done with his potty business, I have to pretend the soap dispenser is a phone and call the superhero to tell him that “Mommy and Ryan got stuck in the bathroom again! Can you help us get out??”
5. Ryan uses his hand as a phone, pretends to be the superhero and agrees to help. We both hang up our phones and Ryan opens the door (this is a 30-second process featuring a fake struggle to turn the knob and lots of grunting for emphasis).
6. We walk back down the stairs holding hands. (I must never, ever go ahead of him lest I face his wrath.)
It was cute the first five times. The last 95 times have been decidedly less cute.
However, straying from the storyline results in an epically ridiculous tantrum, which is also not cute. Since I’m a pick-your-battles sort of parent, I play along.
But sometimes, when he utters the words “Oh no! We’re gonna get stuck!” I want to cry. (Full disclosure: One time after a particular long week with 472 trips to the bathroom, I did actually tear up. Yes, I still called the superhero.)
This is, of course, merely one example. I am also given strict instructions for the way I help him brush his teeth, the way we carry his dirty dishes to the sink and the way I sing him songs before nap time.
When I change his clothes, he has to pretend to fall down after each article of clothing is in place. In order to get him in the car seat, I have to tickle him and then let him tickle me, pretending that it actually tickles, which obviously it doesn’t cuz he’s three and sucks at tickling.
I want to encourage his imagination, which is amazing and fills me with pride. I know these little rituals give him a sense of control and security. And in my experience, trying to rush him along only starts a war I don’t care to waste energy on.
But sometimes … I just want him to freakin’ pee so we can move on with our lives.