Tag Archives: drama queens

Toddler Talk: I’m the parent of a pint-sized drama queen

That moment when you realise you’re living with a threenager…

A friend recently introduced me to the term ‘threenager’. It was a bit of an ‘Aha!’ moment for me. You see, no one had prepared me for the sheer drama that enters the household once your toddler turns three. Terrible twos and tantrums, sure. But this was a whole other ballgame. My kid, more often than not, was acting like she was three going on thirteen. What was going on? Well, now I had my answer: I was living with a threenager.

My first inkling of the fact came one night when the two of us had a showdown over something relatively minor (I wanted her to drink her milk. She didn’t want to.) What began as a typical toddler “Nononono!” type argument mutated and I was suddenly faced with a pouting threenager who informed me that she “didn’t like it here” and that she was going to “go away” all by herself to her grandma’s house. She even set off determinedly, clutching her dolly, and was only deterred by the fact that she couldn’t reach or unlock the front door by herself. Nevertheless, she folded her arms, averted her face and refused to talk to me for the rest of the night.

Since then, there have been declarations of, “I don’t like you, amma!”, and outbursts of “Everyone’s cheating me!” in over-the-top mega serial style (I don’t even watch that stuff… where’s she picking it up from?). We’ve even had that teenage staple cry of “It’s not FAIR!” with me shooting something back like, “Life’s not fair, kid, deal with it,” before remembering that I’m talking to a three-year-old. A three-year-old. I didn’t think I’d be hearing this stuff or dealing with it for another decade or so.But then I started thinking about it, and I realised that three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds actually have a lot in common. One’s on the cusp of childhood, outgrowing babyhood rapidly. The other’s on the cusp of adulthood, outgrowing childhood. They want to do everything all by themselves, their way (clothes, food, you name it). Except, when they don’t. They’re dealing with this whole new world of big feelings. They feel deeply wronged against because they can’t do all the stuff adults do yet (stay up late, drink coffee, drive cars, wear make-up) and they have the vocabulary to express it. Strongly. The thing that makes teens tougher to handle, of course, are all those hormones coursing through their brains, wreaking havoc with their emotions. But I’m starting to suspect that if you studied three-year-olds closely, you’d find pip-squeak versions of those hormones swimming about in their little noggins too.

The other major difference is size and cuteness. You can physically pick up your pint-sized drama queen and prevent her from running out the front gate in a fit of pique (and I’ve had to do it too) but you can’t do that with an angry 13-year-old. Well, you could, but it would require significantly more upper-body strength. And – I mean no offence whatsoever to teenagers the world over here – I have to say that three-year-olds get away with a whole lot more just by virtue of still being cute little munchkins. A threenager throwing a hissy fit and declaring that “no one likes me!” – is kind of adorable, and more likely to get cuddled and reassured. A teenager doing the same – is more likely to get sent to her room. Unfair, but then, you 13-year- olds already knew that, right?

So, upon further consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that the threenager phase is nature’s way of preparing parents for what lies ahead. Like giving you a tiny, toy-version of a gizmo to practise on before taking on the scarier, full-sized version in the future. And helping you to enjoy and treasure the (relatively) drama-free childhood years all the more. This way, when your kid hits the teen years, you’re not completely untried. You’ve had the trial run, a significant cooling off period, and now you’re good to go.

That’s my theory, anyway. I guess it’ll be verified in, oh, a decade or so.

‘Toddler Talk’ is a weekly column that appears in The Hindu Metroplus,

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How to… be a drama queen

1. Drama queens (or kings; this is certainly not restricted to the fairer sex) must live life as if all the world really were a stage, and the spotlight were perennially shining upon them. Any event at any time of the day can be cause for Drama – no happening is too trivial or small. What the rest of the world shrugs off as minor irritants, the drama queen must turn into grand Shakespearean tragedy. The milk boiled over! Oh the horror, the horror! You missed the bus! The agonising pain of it all!
2. What drama queens needs most of all is, naturally, an audience. In any emotionally charged situation, they must find a way to be the centre of attention, whether it’s warranted or not. In other words, become the bystander who bursts into hysterical sobs or faints away dramatically at the scene of an accident or crime and has to be comforted/sedated/revived, etc. (while the actual victim sits huddled sadly on the sidelines). Or the guy throwing a massive temper tantrum for having been kept waiting for 15 minutes at a government office, while about 100 others around him have been waiting in quiet resignation for the last several hours.
3. Perhaps the greatest pleasure in a drama queen’s life is the re-telling (and re-living) of these moments of great personal strife and tragedy. An audience, therefore, is once again a prerequisite, and the more incredulous, the better. Because with each telling, the tale must get more and more improbably dramatic, and the drama queen’s own role must get more and more tragic/heroic, until it loses touch with reality altogether. Being a stickler for the truth is a strict no-no.
4. That’s why drama queens must always have their own posse (P. Diddy has nothing on them) – after all, they need to have a mobile audience unit with them at all times to provide round-eyed responses to their stories and/or splash cold water on their faces when the histrionics go overboard. And what’s in it for the posse, you ask? Well, they revel in all that constant drama – It’s like being part of a real life soap opera, and the gossip never runs dry.
5. When drama queens/kings run short on ‘real’ audience members (even the posse tires at times), they can turn to the virtual. The possibilities are endless online – dramatic Facebook status updates! Cryptic tweets about (vaguely hinted at) tragic events! And to the big one, darkly emotional diary entries on the blog! And soon the Internet audience is clamouring for more. What could be more satisfying?

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