If you just cringed at reading the title I can almost guarantee that you have now or have had a 3-year-old.

My daughter will hit this marvelous age in about a week and a half, and I am already starting to see snippets of why I wanted to gouge my eyeballs out when my son was this age.

Three-year-olds can be some of the cutest beings on the earth.  They are less needy than newborns, can feed themselves for the most part, are usually on their way (if not already there) to not needing diapers, and say some of the darndest things.

 They can also become the spawn of the devil at the drop of the hat.

We have had a 3-year-old before. We should have known what to expect, what to do in certain situations.  Somehow, our brains suppressed the trauma, as if we were PTSD patients, and though I vaguely remember it not being my favorite age, I couldn’t quite remember why.

Oh… I remember now.

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– That 2-year-old who slept through the night like a champ now makes their way to your bed every night.  They do it stealthily, just staring at you until you startle awake and nearly piss your pants at the miniature invader in the room.  While you are trying to get your heart rate down, they are asking for back scratching/water/lollipops/Diego/etc. or just start plopping an entire bed full of stuffed animals into your bed and staking claim in between you and your spouse (sideways, might I add).

–  You Google toddler personality disorders.

– You must be a mind reader to have a 3 year old.  You must telepathically determine that they want milk in a cup and NOT on the Cheerios.  When they said they didn’t want the breakfast bar you offered, you should have known that meant they didn’t want it right now… they wanted it when you arrived at day care.  By the way, even though they clearly said, in their now coherent speech, that they wanted the pink shirt, you should have known that they really meant the purple one.

– Don’t look them directly in the eye.  You never really know what might happen.

– Also, DO NOT TAKE A PICTURE OF HER!  Clearly she is experimenting with being Amish.

– That ever growing vocabulary and those language skills they are developing?  One of two things will happen; they will revert back to grunts, moans, whines, and head pointing to let you know what they want, or they will take a liking to the f-word you let slip and use it freely in the presence of strangers, day care providers, and grandparents.

– Your 3-year-old is completely potty trained- GO YOU!  However now they wield this new-found power of control like a weapon of mass destruction.  It becomes a bedtime stall tactic wherein the mere mention of bedtime triggers the need to poop.  It can also be used to show you who is really boss when they decide to pop a squat in the middle of the floor- just because.

– You begin to wonder who will win, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.

–  Future Oscar contenders, take note from a 3-year-old- they have the water works DOWN!  My daughter can turn them on and off faster than you can say multiple personality disorder.  And it is not just whimpering crying.  It is full-out-the-world-is-ending-my-heart-is-exploding crying.  Usually when we are in Target.

– Don’t even think of suggesting that maybe it it is not appropriate to wear the Dora Backpack, and ONLY the Dora Backpack to bed.

– Eggshells…you are walking on eggshells.  You never know what will set off any of the above.  You get ready for the meltdown when you say it is time to turn off the TV, but it never comes.  But, “take off your coat” makes the scene from the Exorcist look like a G rated Disney movie.  Everyone just duck and take cover!

 So, the memories are coming back, and I am trying to prepare (the wine rack needs replenishing).  It’s not all bad though.  There are the full-on bear hugs, the unsolicited “I love you’s,” and the genuine comedy that only a 3-year-old can bring.  After and epic meltdown, my daughter will recover, pick up her purse, and when asked where she is off to replies:

“I’m going to the city, for sushi and dancing.”

Cool… Can I come?

19 thoughts on “THREE…

  1. Love this! I always said three was WAY harder than two for exactly the reasons you stated above. We are at the half way point towards four, but still no signs of improvement. Good luck to us all:).

  2. Oh, Dena. I really appreciated that! It provides much needed solidarity against the force of the 3 year old. Eliot turns three in February but he certainly fits the profile already!

  3. i am afraid. very afraid. yet, i will know that i am not losing my mind if Jake exhibits all of these fine character traits!! Dena- the best thing about you is that you take this all in stride and throw your awesome sense of humor at it! (wine helps, too, as with everything i find with child rearing……)

  4. I loved this hilarious cautionary tale! Anyone whose parent can be this funny is one lucky kid.

    I relied a lot on “Your Three-Year-Old” by Louise Bates Ames (and all the other similarly named books),which explained some of the reasons for these behavior traits and had a section at the end with sample letters that always consoled me:
    “Dear Dr. Ames, my little Joey sets the house on fire almost every day. He is three and a half. Is this normal?”

    Dr. Ames would always say, “Not to worry. So many three-year-olds exhibit a fascination with fire. He is just exploring and stretching his developing brain! Soon he will outgrow it and peace will reign.” No matter how disturbing my child’s behavior was, those sample letters always topped it. Even though they were published in 1980, you will be reassured.

    I even copied parts of “Your Four-Year-Old” and brought it to my son’s evil daycare teacher in a vain effort to get her to understand him better (he was an ectomorph in a world of mesomorphs and endomorphs). Anyway, the books helped ME a lot.

  5. Every word, absolutely, horrifyingly TRUE!!! When our second son was 3, our life was a living hell! We sincerely counted down the days until he turned 4 ~ and when he did, he very shortly thereafter apologized saying “I’m sorry, Mama” and I asked “for what?” He replied “For all the stuff.” I knew he was apologizing for his third year! Great post, Dena. ♡

    1. I wish it wasn’t true sometimes, but it’s nice to know that it is normal and totally UNIVERSAL (isn’t that why we write these blogs, so we all feel a bit more normal?)… And I love your son, what a cute thing to say!

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