...just wait until he turns 3!"
This is what they all told me. Most of Nate's "terrible twos," I felt like I was at the end of my rope. Everything was a battle of wills. Everything was a struggle. He was indifferent to impending punishment. Oh, he would scream during punishment, but the threat that he would be punished if he didn't obey didn't matter to him.
His "willful two-ness," as I've come to think of it (separate from general personality willfulness), was exaggerated by a feeling of insecurity because his baby brother was born when he was 20 months old; we moved 6 weeks later; then we moved in the extreme, coming to Kenya 6 weeks after his second birthday.
The kid snapped. He hardly ate anything for the first month or so (and I have a horizontal line on his weight growth chart to prove it). He threw a fit about everything. He disobeyed simply to be defiant. There was a phase of about 6 months, peaking at 30 months old, when I really didn't think we were going to make it. Especially if what they said was true: that it would get worse at age 3.
[I realize I'm dwelling on the negative so far, and I feel I should add that we had lots of good moments during that 6 months, too. We had some new, wonderful, fun experiences together. We had many great, normal afternoons just playing at home. Not to mention that parenting through infancy was far easier on me the second time around. It certainly wasn't all bad. Nate's 2-and-a-half blog post, 1 year ago.]
I'm happy to report that they were wrong. Unless Nate is saving some epic breakdown for the second half of his 3s, it has been so much better. Easier. More peaceful.
For example, now he cares about having privileges taken away. Before, "No TV until you clean up toys" would have been met with screaming. Nothing but screaming. Now, he will clean up (albeit grudgingly) in order to get what he wants. We have a required number of bites of vegetables now, which he will comply with in order to get a second helping of his favorite item on the menu or to simply have permission to leave the table. We've worked out some ways of dealing with him not listening or just not wanting to do what he's been told. Some of them work and some of them...well, at least they don't make things worse.
Of course he has a will of his own. He's a human being. Of course he still has his father's stubbornness. That's part of who he is. Of course it's not easy. I said it's easier. It's not easy. It's life.