In just a matter of a week and a half everything in our home has changed. I’m no longer in control of our household,  and, as such, I’m losing my mind. You might think ‘oh, that must mean Seth is in control’ but no, he’s not. I’ll give you one guess who’s in charge at our house: he has light brown hair, stands about hip height, has a killer smile and dark chocolate eyes to die for. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s conniving. He runs on sugar and Disney movies. He’s a three-year old with a mean streak and an alter-ego we call Marty.

You read that right, Matty’s running the show.

Last Friday at pick up, I was informed that Matty had, over the past couple weeks, become part of what the preschool director was calling a ‘ring of three’. From what I gathered, ‘ring of three’ was a nice way of saying my kid was a proud member of a three-man gang.

“Wait. Is it bad???”
“Ehhhh. I wouldn’t say it’s BAD – but I wouldn’t say it’s GOOD. Let’s just say he’s getting very, hmmm, adventurous; they’ve been experimenting a lot. The other day the three of them had to come into the office. Their teacher brought them in and when I asked what happened, Matty looked up at me and said, ‘Bad choice.'”

We laughed about it but I knew exactly what she meant. He’d also become very ‘adventurous’ at home. Defying Seth and I’s efforts to get him to do anything: to pick up his toys, to listen, to eat his meals, to generally be a pleasant human being to be around for more than ten minutes at a time.

“Matty, you need to pick up your toys. I’ve asked you five times.”
“No, you pick them up!”
“Matheson. Pick. Up. Your. Toys.”
“You can pick them up! I don’t want to.”

His attitude has transitioned from funny and cute to worrisome and infuriating – but mostly just infuriating. I find myself biting my tongue, reminding myself he doesn’t even know what he’s saying but it’s hard – really hard – and I’m learning very quickly I might not be as cool of a mom as I thought I was.

“Matty, please pick up your leg and put it into these pants. You are getting dressed.”
“MOM. I’m obviously playing this harmonica.”
“Yeah, well, if you don’t put these pants on, I’m going to break that harmonica.”

But he’s not even phased and I’m not even sure he’s my kid, let alone the same kid I loved a month ago.

“If you break this harmonica, I’ll punch you right. in. your. face.” He looks deep into my eyes while a grubby grin spreads across his face.

Last week, I caught him stealing candy in line at the craft store (and by stealing I mean eating chocolate balls and shoving the wrappers back into the box on the shelf). I secretly paid for the chocolate and then told him the cops were coming to get him for stealing. As we walked out of the store, there was a helicopter flying overhead. I pointed to it, overwhelmed with frustration, and told him they were already looking for him. He started to cry saying he didn’t want the cops to get him before saying he’d hit them if they tried.

Like, who is this child? And who has he been talking to?! I mean, what is even happening? Where is my sweet, sweet boy who cried when he hurt anyone’s feelings and wailed whenever he got in trouble? Who is this child kicking the grocery cart when he’s denied candy and hitting his parents when he’s told no? Who is this defiant kid laughing in our faces when he’s on the verge of being in ‘big’ trouble and hitting his brother harder when we ask him to stop?

And how am I supposed to help him be better when it’s taking everything in my body to simply ignore him? I’m Mom. I’m supposed to have the answers and I’m supposed to have all the patience and all of the love. But I don’t. Right now, I don’t. All I have right now are bags under my eyes, a perma-scowl on my face and three-year old boss who hits and kicks, hurls insults, laughs in my face when I’m at my lowest, sneaks into my bed in the middle of the night and kicks me in my face while I sleep just to ensure I’m mentally at my weakest.

This morning, Matty sat on the bathroom floor while I got ready and moaned about how he didn’t want to go to school. When I told him he had to go to school because Seth and I had to go to work, he screeched, “NO! You don’t need to go to work! I’m not going to school!” It took everything I had not to blow the whole Santa shtick right out of the water. When Seth and the boys walked out of the door, I had never been more happy and relieved to kiss him goodbye.

Five minutes later Seth FaceTimed me from the driveway. There was Matty, strapped into his car seat, tears running down his angry face. Seth’s voice was loud and laced with annoyance.

“Nose sucker, please! He went ape shit because I told him he’d have to get a Kleenex at school and now he wants his nose sucked. I’m not driving the whole way to school with him kicking and screaming. Can you bring it down here, please?” Before I could even say anything Seth hung up.

Any other day I probably would have called back and given Seth the parental advice I try to give myself: We can’t give into everything because he’ll start to think that’s how he gets what he wants. But today I walked outside, sucked Matty’s nose in the driveway, gave him one more kiss, told everyone I loved them and walked back inside without saying another word.

For us working parents, sometimes it’s the weekends that are long and when your boss is a needy lunatic with control issues, sometimes your co-workers are all you’ve got.

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