In my almost a decade of youth work and youth educating, I always sunk a little inside when I knew there was a program involving kids in year 9 coming up.
Year 9 kids are no longer the runts of high school, they begin to feel power, and the need for acceptance by their peers is greater than ever. They are too cool for school, and spend all their time impressing and imposing. If you are a substitute teacher or some youth worker guy coming in to run a session, bring a helmet and a pack of panadol. Well I think 3 year olds are the toddler equivalent.
Sometimes the 3 year old son drives me batty.
Before kids turn 3 they are super cute and make funny noises. Eventually they start to pronounce words in their own cute way and mix match them to create funny cobbled together sentences like when Oscar tried to say the name of his toy Percy train he would say something that sounded very similar to ‘Bulls%&t’ and sentences like “Oh what I smell?”.
But when they turn three, suddenly their vocabulary and grasp of language is greater than that of an entire NRL team and their desire to justify and correct everything is stronger than a member of the Young Liberals.
Oscar loves telling me what to do, “Daddy we don’t do that” and “Daddy stop that you need to do it this way”. Some days it’s like I have two wives. (Jenny doesn’t call me daddy so there is a slight difference).
He is also extremely inquisitive and sometimes this can be a little awkward, especially when he combines his grasp of language, inquisitive nature and his desire to be bossy.
Yesterday the wife went out for the afternoon so the son and I headed to the local shopping centre to buy some new chopping boards. When we got to the centre I needed to wee so we headed for the toilets and I found an ‘accessible’ cubicle so Oscar didn’t use his inquisitiveness to comment on other men at the urinal and also so I could keep a better eye on him. He was adamant he did not need to wee so I asked him to go and stand to one side of the cubicle while I prepared to relieve myself. Which reminds me of another three year old quirk, they don’t talk quietly.
I unzipped my fly and Oscar moved a little closer, he has seen me naked many times so it’s not like I’m about to unveil a surprise package. I asked him to move back a bit which got a “Why”.
Eventually after explaining numerous times and ways why I did not want Oscars face in the firing line he stepped back and I was ready.
But then in his nice not so quite voice so the whole mens bathroom could hear – “you have a big doodle don’t you daddy”
This is a phrase that in a different context and without the word ‘daddy’ would probably be flattering or something, but from a 3 year old loudly in a cubicle in a public toilet I did not feel flattered. I tried to hush him a little and began the stream.
As I was mid flow I could see him slowly moving closer to me, very intrigued by my weeing. I fought off the stage fright and managed to almost finish precedings when he piped up again, this time using the bossy voice and tone, “Daddy you need to shake your doodle”.
I know he is just vocalising things that he himself is learning to do but the timing causes much grief for his poor father.
After the toileting experience was over we left the bathroom with me looking down and walking determinedly out the door avoiding any possibility of eye contact with absolutely anyone.
There was a brief flashback to the cute days when I told him we might look in the “King of Knives” shop for chopping boards and he said “Will the king be there?”
But it was a brief moment followed by several minutes of “But why isn’t the king there” “Where is the king” “But why is there no king” “will the king be there tomorrow” “But why is it called the name of the shop” “But where is the shop” …………………………………………….and on and on and on.
Whilst waiting for the man and lady behind the counter to process our purchase Oscar said “But why is it taking so long, daddy? It’s taking too long I want to go”
The man in the shop smiled at Oscar and he looked down at the floor.
Whilst walking home I got in trouble for walking on his side of the path, I got in trouble for pressing the crossing button twice, I got in trouble for having a sweaty hand. At one point Oscar was walking in the grass and dirt beside the path and I asked him to join me on the path. He said “Why” and this went on for a while, before he started telling me about dog poo and that rocks are like dog poo but you can step on rocks and that he can walk in the grass because there is no dog poo in the grass.
A simple trip to the shops is a saga on the parental brain, everything is questioned and everything needs answers and the answer again and again. I guess the difference between a 3 year old and a kid in year 9 is that the 3 year old is annoying and trying to understand the world where as a kid in year 9 is annoying and thinks they are the world.
Now I’m off to the toilet while the boy sleeps.
The simple things when a parent of a 3 year old are sheer bliss, sweet peeing alone bliss.