I had heard about the Terrible Twos. I read up on it. I talked to other moms. I Googled. I thought I was prepared.
And, for the most part, I was. I expected mood swings, appetite changes, tantrums and other weird behaviors that would make any parent think her sweet child was possessed by the devil (or a Bravo housewife).
And that word, “No.” I mean, I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to use that word more. But kids should be preprogrammed without it.
But no one told me about the Threes.
To be honest, my son wasn’t too bad in his twos. He didn’t have any sleep regressions, he didn’t suddenly turn into a picky eater, he didn’t lie down in the middle of the grocery store screaming because I wouldn’t let him eat an entire box of Honey Nut Cheerios. Really, the only challenge we had came in the form of potty training. (We don’t talk about it.)
I remember then thinking, “Well, the Twos weren’t that bad.”
Then the Threes came.
I read nothing about the Threes—and now I know why. When you have a 3-year-old, there’s no time to sit down and pen a blog. (Have you not noticed my sporadic blogging lately? It’s not because I’m working out.) They don’t nap as much—if at all. They need you for everything—and then want you to leave them alone. And they don’t stop moving. Or talking. Or complaining. Or asking, “Why?”
Life was easier when they didn’t move or talk, when you didn’t need to map out the mall or the airport for clean and convenient bathrooms, when you didn’t have to carry a ridiculous amount of things you’ve never had to carry before: a portable potty, extra underwear, a First Aid kit, an iPad (with a charger because forgetting it would be the death of you), a collection of toys and other things that you can distract your kid with, and more snacks than a family of four could consume—just in case.
Yes, there are no bottles, no pumping (OMG), no stacks of diapers. But don’t think once they’re finished with those things, their needs disappear. Oh, no. Now they can articulate how much they would have preferred a Paw Patrol Capri Sun pouch even though you asked them if they wanted one before you left the house and they said no. And yet, despite the sudden speech tsunami, they still can’t let you know that they have to pee—or that they already did in their underwear 20 minutes ago.
Welcome to the Threes.
And my son is a full-blown Threenager.
He wants to do what he wants, when he wants. His go-to phrases are, “I do it by myself,” “But why?” and “Oh my GOSH,” complete with a perfectly executed eye roll. (I wonder who he learned that from.) He’s always negotiating with me. (“No, SIX more minutes, Mommy.”) And he always has a plan: When I explain to him how the day is going to go, he responds with his own version of the schedule—and it often excludes a few key items like “going to the potty” and “taking a nap.”
But as harder as it is in certain ways, it’s also easier in others. He brushes his own teeth, he doesn’t need me to feed him anymore, he puts on his own pants and slippers—the wrong way, but I’ll take it.
It’s shocking to look back at photos of him, even from a year ago, and see how much he’s grown. A year ago, he was still wearing diapers and struggling to walk down the stairs. Now, he’s zooming around on his tricycle, writing his own name on Valentine’s Day cards for his classmates, and singing the entire soundtrack of “Frozen”—with hand motions. It’s crazy!
So as difficult as Threenagers can be, there are a lot of upsides to it—including the fact that he’s that much closer to getting a job and paying me rent.