Everyone talks about the terrible twos, but parenting a two year old is easy-peasy compared to parenting a “threenager”. Growing in independence, but still very much needing Mummy and Daddy, they are full of attitude and angst that is often hard to handle. It’s certainly a trying time for all involved!
1. Why? Why? But Why?
Not just “Why”, but “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When”, and “How” are all used repeatedly throughout the day, and around 50% of the time they are questions you simply don’t have the answer to: “No, I don’t know the name of the man who said hello to us when we passed. He was just being friendly. No, I don’t know what that bird is called. Let’s just call him bird. No, I don’t know why that crane in the building site is not moving at the moment. Maybe it’s tired.” And, on and on, and on.
2. They Don’t “Get” Board Games, But Still Want To Try
They insist on getting out their older sibling’s Junior Monopoly and before you have even rolled the dice for your first turn, they have claimed all the property, including the jail, declared themselves the banker, and kidnapped your figurine.
Threenagers don’t really do turns, or sharing, and whilst you want to teach them these vital skills, you don’t really want to deal with the temper tantrums either. That’s why in a game of snap they end up with all the cards despite not having matched any pairs, whilst in Snakes & Ladders they go in any direction they fancy and the snakes are just “advisory.”
3. Naps Are No More, But Afternoon Tiredness Still Prevails
A typical three-year-old has dropped their nap, but they still get tired in the afternoon. Occasionally, they might nod off in the car on the way home from somewhere and then you have the ultimate parenting dilemma: Wake them up now and spend the next hour with a sleepy, cranky three year old, or let them sleep, and spend three hours trying to get them to bed later. There are no winners.
4. They Can’t Walk Very Far
But they still insist on walking everywhere because the pushchair is clearly for babies and they are “a big girl / boy.” Try and put them in the pushchair and they instantly assume the plank position, where they refuse to bend in the middle so you can’t strap them in. Leave the pushchair behind and you will inevitably need to carry them when their little legs get tired. Except they are heavy. Really heavy. Seriously, how did they get so heavy?
5. They Operate On Sloth-Time, Until They Want Something
They are really slow at finding their shoes when it’s time to leave the house, and when it comes to tidying up, their ability to only put one toy away every three minutes is truly astounding. They expect you to wait for them, and they’ll throw a temper tantrum if you try and hurry them up. On the other hand, if you take more ten seconds to get them a drink when they ask for it then you are in serious trouble.
6. They Are Desperate For Independence, But Only On Their Terms
“I can do it myself!” are words that you hear time and time again. It’s great that they want to learn to be independent but they always choose the worst moments to exert that independence. For example, when you’re running late and need to get them to nursery before work and they suddenly decide they can dress themselves and definitely “don’t need your help”, even though they have both limbs in one trouser leg and their pants on their head. Funnily enough, that independent streak flees for the hills when it’s time to tidy their toys. They lie on the floor and claim the single Duplo brick is “too heavy” and beg you to help them.
7. They Like To Choose What They Wear
As part of their growing independence, they like to be in control of their clothes. Sometimes this works out ok and they choose items that vaguely match. Other times you can be seen strolling through the supermarket being followed by a miniature Disney princess with the addition of a Christmas jumper and an Easter bonnet.
8. Navigating Their Emotions Feels Like Walking On Egg Shells
One moment they’re happy playing with toys, the next they’re sobbing wildly because they can’t find the matching shoe on their Playmobil surfer figure. You excitedly take them outside to witness the first snowfall of the year, only for them to start crying because the snow is “too crunchy.” Sometimes their tears make no sense whatsoever, like when they ask for biscuit, so you give them a biscuit, and they cry because they wanted drink instead.
9. Meals Are A Minefield
One day pasta is ok, the next day it’s poison that must not touch your child’s plate. Anything on their plate is to be treated with disdain, but anything on your plate is fair game. You need to channel all your creative abilities to get through this stage. You develop the power to turn a disgusting, inedible raspberry yogurt into a delicious strawberry yogurt through the addition of a drop of vanilla extract and the word “abracadabra.” Cauliflower is clearly foul, but “cheesy broccoli” is a perfect substitute. Omelette is something that only Satan himself could have spawned, but “cheesy pancakes” are a delight to behold.
10. They Can Easily Find You
Babies couldn’t walk and two-year olds didn’t notice when you sneaked out to the kitchen to scoff a biscuit, but a threenager has developed a heighten sense of smell and can hear a biscuit wrapper rustling from three-miles away. You think they are engrossed in that episode of Paw Patrol and you surreptitiously slip into the kitchen and carefully pry open the biscuit jar. You take a bite and a little voice can be heard coming from by your knees: “What are you eating, Mummy? Can I have one?”