Recently I've discovered something that apparently has been flying over the heads of lead scientists and child psychologists for years:
Children actually start hitting puberty right around three years old.
Not in the physiological sense. Don't worry. Rollie's voice is still high (ultrasonic when he's whining, which lately is ALL THE TIME), his is skin still flawless...no Adam's apple bobbing around in his neck. And he's not obsessed with girls or Dungeons and Dragons quite yet.
He has, however, developed this charming little habit of talking back to me. Or talking over me when I'm trying to tell him something. And this morning when I told him to go to his room because I caught him throwing a shoe at Elsa's head, he stormed off, yelling the whole way, then slammed his door and locked it. Locked it. When I heard the little latch turn on the other side of his door, I was like, oh helllllll no. No. It brought back memories of my sister Carrie, who as a teenager used to do the exact thing to show her displeasure (which was often). She'd go off on a little tirade, stomp down the hallway--her combat boots making as much noise as she could manage--then slam her door so forcefully it rattled china cabinets in the next county. It was really something to behold, and pretty intimidating to me, her little sister and the main source of her anger. I imagine she was picturing my head stuck through her doorway, and one slam would be enough to pop it right off my body.
Anyway, I'm pretty floored by this latest phase. What is going on with my little boy? Is it a growth spurt? Hormones? Or has he been Quantum Leaped by a greasy-haired teenager? Should I be tossing his room for a stash of playboys and bottles of Boones Farm? That would at least be more palatable than the idea that what I'm witnessing is in fact another facet of my sons increasingly complex personality. Terrible Threes is definitely a misnomer. Three-year-olds aren't terrible. Oh no. They're manipulative, sassy, destructive, and pretty much pure evil.
Okay, okay, so I know I'm being over-dramatic. He's not this way all the time. He still has his nanoseconds of sweetness. He and Elsa can actually play together for more than five minutes at a time before someone (usually Elsa) starts crying (usually because Rollie has squished her finger between two toy cars like a chubby little pedestrian caught in a bad traffic accident). And if Elsa's whining and I'm in the middle of something, I can usually recruit Rollie to entertain her or get her a toy or read her story. He eagerly accepts my assignments, and reports back to me when the mission is accomplished ("Momma, I gave Baby Els a pair of my undies to play with and she's happy now!"). He is much more independent (opening the fridge and helping himself of the whipped cream), and finally, finally potty trained ("Momma," he'll call across the house, "I just went poop a lot!" And when I come to help him out, he'll jump up from the potty and say, "Ta-dah!" like he's just performed a mind-blowing magic trick).
So I guess it's just the times when I realize he's no longer a a somewhat pliable toddler who will do my bidding with minimal, unintelligible complaints, that I'm slapped into the reality of a moody, expressive, door-slamming three-year-old. I guess I shouldn't be too worried. This first round of puberty is merely preparing me for the day when Rollie's voice starts cracking like Peter Brady's, and a crop of acne erupts on his delicate little face. If I can deal with his new, irritating attitude when he's three, I might have a fighting chance to handle him when he's fourteen, hairy, and beating girls off with a stick.
Either that, or I'll just remove his door from its hinges so he can never slam it or lock me out again.