I’m so used to calling Ella a ‘toddler’ that it took a complete stranger to make me realize that I need to let that term go. The lady asked me how old Ella was and when I said 4 and a half, she laughed and said, “Oh! So she’s old!”.
First of all, lady, thanks for making me feel like I’m nearing retirement age by calling my child “old”. Secondly, I only stopped calling Ella a baby the other day. And that shift from baby to toddler was dramatic enough. Like, I’m not ready for this. But. I have no choice. Because now I’ll just end up sounding like those moms that say that their kid is 37 months old. No.
Preschool is generally accepted as the age group between 3 and 5 years old – the time in between starting nursery and joining Std. 1. This age is not discussed as much as it should be. Everybody talks about the horrors of teething babies. Mothers will complain about the terrible two’s of toddlerhood. Older folk will rant about rebellious teenagers. But nobody, NOBODY, warns you about the perplexing nature of preschoolers.
Preschoolers are crazy. There’s no point beating around the bush. They just make no damn sense! Their emotions only manifest in extremes: They are either so giggly and filled with joy that their cheeks could positively burst! OR they’re wailing while slumped on the floor because all hope is gone and they have lost the will to live. Extremes.
It’s almost as if God took the defining qualities of toddlers and teenagers, and combined them to create preschoolers.
You know how toddlers throw tantrums? Preschoolers have found a way to perfect the tantrum to make it more sustainable AND more annoying: They Whine. Whining is ten times worse than a tantrum because unlike the latter which only lasts a few minutes, a whine can be sustained for hours. HOURS. Preschoolers (diabolical as they are) have discovered that whining consumes less energy AND yields better results as parents capitulate due to sheer exhaustion.
Then. You know how teenagers are overly emotional? Preschoolers are not just overly emotional. They’re emotionally unstable and completely unreasonable. Whilst in the middle of an emotional meltdown they will not, under any circumstances, listen to reason. And meltdowns are part and parcel of the typical preschooler’s day.
Here is a recurring example of a typical Ella meltdown:
Ella: Mummy, please can I have some water.
Me: Sure honey. *hands her a cup of water carefully and instructs her to sit very still so as not to spill the water. Because I know EXACTLY what will happen if she spills her water*
Exactly two minutes later…
Ella, already in tears and in the early stages of meltdown: Mummyyyyyyyy, I poured water on my dreeeeeessssss. My dress is weeeeeeeeeet
Me: Don’t worry toto, it will dry
Ella: Nooooooooo. It wooooooooooon’t. It’s just weeeeeeet.
Me: Yes, Ella. It will
At this point the wailing gets louder as she gives in to her own hysteria
Me: Ok, let’s take that dress off and you can put on anoth-
Ella: Nooooooo, I want to wear this dreeessssss. I want this ooooooooone.
This is the point I usually give up and let her wail it out. She usually wails and moans and gets over it all on her own (and honestly, sometimes it’s a bit funny when you put her utter despair in context) . But do you see what I’m saying about being unreasonable?! That’s a preschooler for you.
But all that being said, you know what? I’m enjoying this stage of motherhood more than any other since I started this journey ! This is the stage of such emotional and mental blossoming. The rapidly expanding vocabulary means they mix up words in the cutest ways: like how Ella says ‘repposed to’ instead of supposed to or ‘betil’ instead of until. Or how she begins to use new words almost immediately she learns them in any way she can; One time after watching an episode of Dora, a friend of hers made her mad and she angrily shouted at the little boy, “I’LL LASSO YOU!”As in, like a horse.
And then there’s the sweetness that flows out of them so naturally. The eagerness to be good little helpers, the twinkle in their eyes when you join in their little games, the out of the blue “I love you mommy”s…they fill your heart with so much love. Like, just yesterday Ella told me, “You’re my best mommy”. And my heart nearly exploded.
It’s definitely a bittersweet stage. And their sweetness is the absolute best thing in this world.
Now I just need other moms to come clean about the next stages. No more surprises!