The three-nager

Before becoming a parent, I often found myself rolling my eyes at parents discussing the “terrible two’s” and then of course followed by the “terrible threes,” and so on. I found myself thinking, “how terrible could they really be?”

And then, like an almighty slap in the face, I discovered just how terrible they could be.

In fairness to the child currently in question, she more or less skipped over the “terrible twos.” Generally speaking, her twos were a happy, energetic, fun filled year. Well, for her at least. For me, although rewarding and cheerful in many ways, it was an exhausting period of having just past parenting a helpless little baby, but also not quite at the point of having a reasonably self-sufficient toddler. And to add insult to injury, I fell pregnant with our second child during this stage, so my energy levels were mostly at a low, while my daughter’s energy levels were at an all-time high. That said, the terrible twos have nothing on the “terrible threes.” Or as I like to call it “the three-nager” stage.

The three-nager stage is when you realise you have a three-year-old teenager. A three-year-old that is mentally convinced that he/she is in fact 13 years old and has all of life’s answers in their growing, albeit currently tiny, little brains.

Don’t get me wrong- I adore my three-nager. And on many, if not most occasions, she has brought me immense amounts of amusement with her sassy, vivacious personality. But, if I thought having a two-year-old was exhausting, having a three-year-old is near knocking me out.

I live in constant fear of cutting her toast in the incorrect manner. Does she want triangles, rectangles or squares today? Getting it wrong can be deadly, so best to ask and hope that once you’ve adhered to her request, she doesn’t change her mind.

I have to plan to leave at least 10 minutes early whenever  we’re heading out together, because Miss Independent can do everything by her “own self.” Until of course she can’t and that leaves me scrambling with new baby, children’s bags and stroller in arms, trying to assist said three-nager in doing up the shoes that she insisted she could do up on her own, followed by deep breaths, waiting for another 10 minutes while she also buckles herself into the car seat on her own.

But my favorite (or not so favorite) trait is my three-nager’s newfound negotiation skills. She can literally negotiate her way out of a time out and I then find myself somewhat impressed of her skill level instead of angry about the reason she was meant to be in a time out in the first place.

I also feel like I was completely ill-prepared for the speed at which a three-nager can go from happy-go-lucky playing and laughing child, to 1988 Chucky and then back again. I’m told this is completely normal, but I most certainly have my doubts!

Three-nagers are tough to parent, make us weary, and zap us of all of our patience and energy. But on the flip side, this time can be so rewarding. As our threenagers’ independence blooms so does their vocabularies, and sometimes we hear lovely things like, “You’re my best friend Mummy, I love you soooo much!” And those moments are the moments that make it all worthwhile.

Author: Kat Lebrasse

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