A few days ago, a buddy of mine asked me for advice on becoming a new parent. I told him that I was no expert…I only do what works for me. But I didn’t want to leave him hangin’, so I gave him a few of my ‘bread n’ butters’. I suggested that he get a REAL nice coffee maker and a case of stain sticks. Also, I casually mentioned that he do himself a favor, and take all his valuable and treasured shit and put it in a storage unit for a few years. I may or may not have said something to the effect of – he shouldn’t get comfortable having anything nice. And lastly, I corrected a long-lived parenting circle cliche. If you ask parents what the most difficult time period was for raising kids, you usually get one answer: The Terrible Two’s.
I looked him square in the eye and said – FUCK the terrible two’s. The two’s ain’t got shit on the three’s. The three’s are where it’s at.
Every day I suit up for battle. It’s not just the usual twice-a-day stuff like ‘I don’t wannnna go’ or ‘I don’t wanna eat that for breakfast.’
I’m talking about multiple things every hour. Telling me that all the tags in her clothes are itchy and that she hates toast, even though she had eight pieces the day before. Getting up in her brother’s face like The Gooch, ripping anything and everything away from him so that he’ll never enjoy a moment of his childhood. Falling to the ground, claiming her ‘knees hurt’ when I ask her to walk up the stairs, as I stand behind her holding eight grocery bags (quickly losing circulation in my fingers) and her brother around my neck. Protesting that something is too cold or hot, when it’s the exact opposite. Refusing to get in the bathtub because she thinks the flower petals from her bath fizzy are dirt. And having band try-outs on every pot and pan we own as soon as I get on the phone with my student loan reps. Screaming, pushing, punching, biting, spitting, back-talking, karate-kicks and testicle headbutts. All in a days work.
So you could imagine the joy I experienced a few months ago when we began sending her to pre-school two days a week.
Sure, I’ve still got Charlie during that time, so it’s not a total reprieve, but it’s three hours with half the chaos.
“Let the fucking teachers deal with that shit. Let them fuckin’ see!”, I stated to my wife after she sauntered in from work (no hard feelings) with a latte.
Anyway…I digress…Ava’s parent-teacher conference was yesterday. I had to go. Not that I HAD to go, I WANTED to go. I WANTED to see what her teachers had to say about this straight-up bullshit that was going down. I wanted to count the wrinkles and gray hairs that she’s given them since September. I wanted to confirm that she had made ‘short work’ of them, as I strutted around the room like a rooster, bobbing my head, flapping my elbows and cock-a-doodle-doodling “in your face!”.
But I kept my cool. For a few minutes, anyway.
My wife and I walked in and sat down. We exchanged a few pleasantries and the teacher began…
“Your daughter is amazing. Your daughter follows directions and always cleans up after herself. She respects and gets along with the other kids. She shares well and is courteous. Your daughter is a good friend. Your daughter is a joy to have in this class.”
I looked over at my wife with a furrowed brow and with only my eyes, said “Who in the hell is this girl she keeps calling my daughter?”
Clearly this woman is on drugs or maybe she’s got Alzheimer’s, God bless her.
MY daughter boycotted bananas because she once saw a housefly circle the fruit bowl. MY daughter pulls and stretches the shit out of a brand new shirt, throws it on the living room floor and then tells me it doesn’t fit. MY daughter screams at me like Sam Kinison to not look at her while she’s pooping.
So who was this Jekyll n’ Hyde? Where did she come from?
According to her teacher, this is somewhat common. Kids learn quickly how to manipulate their parents and know exactly what buttons to push and when. Perhaps it’s an early stage of rebellion rooted in her trying to find her independence.
Fine. I get it. That makes sense. I need a helmet, some Kevlar body armor and a therapist for the next few months. Done deal.
Perfect! Absolutely perfect! (and thankfully I’m not alone) Fuck the terrible two’s! I’ll take those twice as long if I don’t have to deal with the Hair Pulling Threes! <3
HAHA! Love it. I’ve got an 11, 5 and .58 yr old (or 7 months). The younger 2 are girls and are responsible for 97% of the drama. Really not looking forward to experiencing high school for 12 years between the 3 of them.
Thanks for keeping it real and sharing tales from the trenches.
You never fail to make me chuckle and that picture is precious! I only wish you had teenagers so I could share my angst.Oh well you will catch up someday.
LisaSupplee I agree if only he had a teenager…LOL… I would love to do the terrible two’s or three’s over any day compared to these teenage years.
HAHAHA. This is amazing!
what am I in for? Shit! Hilarious and well written….can’t wait to buy your book!
Oh no! I am betting this will happen to me. I am just waiting for pre school and think to myself…let them teach him to follow direction! but I have heard this happening to others. lol My son isn’t 3 yet so it looks like I have a lot to look forward to..Yikes!
Dude, I loved this piece. But my two-year-old has pushed every theoretical button on me…a bajillion times and he’s not technically two until next month. EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear that the threes are worse than the twos I die a little inside. The Fours better be the “Fucking Awesome Fours” or I quit.
Absolutely. The only reason people continue to say Terrible Two is because no one can think of a cute alliteration for the number three. My 3 yr old is in full day pre-K3 so we have evenings and weekends to get the fullness of his threeness. The first couple of weeks after school started I remember thinking, “this is a motherfucking doppleganger; this is NOT my child.” But, having gone through this stage twice before, I can assure you four gets better and five is some peaceful shit compared to three (because screw two; two ain’t nothin’.)
I remember that parent/teacher meeting. She was singing the praises about some kid and how she’s ahead of the reading curve, plays with EVERYONE ‘cuz everyone likes her, listens, helps, etc. It took me a minute to realized she wasn’t comparing my kid to someone else’s angel. So we’ve had to use that at home, which is hard. I mean, who wants to use “Would you so that with Mrs. X watching?” But, hey, whatever works I guess. BTW, she’s 7, and my ‘Lil Man is 3. I TOTALLY agree with the terrible 3s, as the 2s were a warm-up. Yes, the bullpen of terror. Now that he’s 3, he’s got words that don’t make sense, fits that fit no classification, and no direction in life. He’s like Bam-Bam, The Tazmanian Devel, and a category 5 hurricane all wrapped up in sticky and dirt. How is that I can love him so much despite all that? I’m stumped.
<a href=http://thecheekydaddy.com>The Cheeky Daddy</a>
Great post. Thanks for this.
The Sam Kinison reference was great. I loved this post more than I can say. 🙂
This story is hilarious!!! As a children’s photographer I can assure you you are spot-on! It’s the threes, not the twos!!! I tell every parent when we do their first photoshoot, “Enjoy this! Cause I’m going to tell you what no one else is going to. Prepare yourself for the 3’s!”
Any time someone calls to book a shoot for a three year old I always tell them to plan for an extra hour. I tell them not to talk about it beforehand. And when they ask if I can get a picture with their newborn sibling or their favorite kitty cat or Spot the dog I just laugh and say, “Not unless you want them bludgeoned in the head by the 3-year olds favorite dolly!”
I quickly learned that with 3 year olds you must never ask them to “stand over here”. You must say, “would you like to stand over here or over here? You can pick.” And that works for about 3 times. Because they are miniature masterminds and quickly realize they are being tricked. From that point on the only shot that’s going to happen is of the back of their head as they run away from you.
And if you discuss “picture day” with them prior it will be the day they decide they want to wear their ladybug costume Halloween last year, paired with red glitter shoes all day. We actually showed up at one shoot where the little girl would only wear rain boots, a bike helmet, fair wings and a ballet leotard for the entire time we were there. Another little 3 year old boy decided he wanted to wear his mothers sunglasses for the entire photoshoot.
Now, some might say, “These are children! The parents should just tell them what they are wearing and that’s that!” Well, unless you want 400 pictures of a screaming, red-eyed, runny-nosed, angry little child, I highly suggest a parent not take route!
So, you are 100% correct about three year olds. At age two, they may not like that you tell them they have to wear a bow in their hair for pictures. But they’ll do it. But the day they turn three they realize they don’t “have” to wear or do anything they don’t want! Add to that their new-found need for more independence and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!!!
The good news I have for you is, eventually, it will end. Though it may last well into the “fours”…it will pass! So hang in there!
Thank you! This is so fantastic. Completely spot on – so much we thought maybe you had met our 3 yr old (or maybe witnessed a F5 tantrum at the grocery store). My husband and I both read this several times while wiping tears from laughing so hard (we think they were from laughing). This reads like a page out of our weekly journal. Looking forward to reading more.
I just read this blog post on Huffington Post and I am laughing so hard I had to find your blog and comment. I have a son that is about to turn 3 and who is becoming your daughter quicker than I can follow or handle. (And he is so loved in his daycare as the most obedient and gentle child…) I JUST got off the phone with my parents, who live in my native Slovakia, explaining to them the phrase “terrible twos” and the truth of the real terror of threes when I came across your article. A sign, for sure.
SAME FRICKN thing hapoened to me dude! I became an unexpected stay at home mom from an extremely lived career as a cosmetologist. I developed severe carpal tunnel syndrome, got the surgery (in both of my wrists) and discovered I had it so severeky that I am stuck with permanent nerve damage and arthritis in my thumb joints! And I had out my daughter Kayden in preschool for a bit and the teacher told me she was FANTASTIC. And that she was the only one in the class to help pick up toys and out them away afyer pkay time. WTF!?!?!? Her room at home is …well ..looks kike a junkbyard! I can’t get her to pick up a toy to save her life. And she talks back at me like I am a sibling and not her mother. She is 3. She is about to turn foir so I am holding in tight hoping it will pass before my sanity is hidden along in the junkyard with her favorite toy!
That’s good to know as I feel I’m starting to experience early signs of this phenomenon with my 20 month old son who can be a terror at home and then says “bye bye” to strangers in a sweet little voice when leaving a room. I get paranoid about raising a child that ends up being a respectable member of society so I guess I’ll try not to freak out if my son puts his parents through the ringer as long as he’s nice and polite around others.
Spot on. I have five kids. The “terrible twos” are a myth, because the threes are a motherfucker. Two of my kids are teens, and they are delightful. It gets better.
Awesome. I just stumbled upon you when googling three is so much worse than two. Loved this so much. I can’t wait to read more and get caught up. I have a 3 year old that you summed up perfectly.
Woooh! Kids can be a handful. I am normally not the one to comment on articles. I wanted to share my story with you guys.
My little twins, Emma & Emily are just wonderful kids..love them to death but at 2 to 3 years old things started getting alittle out of hand. Yes, Emma & Emily were starting to go into the dreaded “phase”.
Things were getting crazier and crazier everyday! I could not deal with this anymore, everything I tried did not work at all!
I finally took off to the web to try to find a solution to my twins. It took me a while to find this site.. funny how not everyone knows about the site TalkingToToddlers.cf
Let me tell you this has saved being a busy mother is not as easy as it may seem *sometimes*.
This saved me from my endless nights of crying because everything was just that bad!
I totally recommed TalkingToToddlers to any mother who is having a hard time with the “phase” that everyone is scared of!
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