Whether you have an “oops” baby like me, started your family a little on the later side or once parented a three-year-old, you know what it’s like being in the trenches with a preschooler: exasperating, exhausting, comical and divine. As a true child of the ’80s—I was 12 when MTV premiered “Video Killed the Radio Star”—I find the songs of that tremendous decade incredibly apropos to life with my three-year-old daughter. I’ll let U2, Duran Duran and The Cure explain what I mean:
“99 Luftballons” — Nena (1983)
Like the German version of this song, my three-year-old doesn’t always make a lot of sense. With her non-sequiturs, run-on sentences and adorably mispronounced words, my daughter might as well be talking to me in a foreign language. I just smile and nod.
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” — U2 (1987)
The Elsa doll’s miniscule blue plastic crown. The zebra striped slap-on bracelet from that birthday party favor bag two months ago. The pint-sized rainbow heart sock that matches the one floating around the laundry room. No matter how hard I search, there are days when I just can’t find what I’m looking for.
“Urgent” — Foreigner (1981)
We’re in the middle of the grocery store when the little one grabs her crotch and says, “Mommy, I need to pee!” Talk about urgent. In a flash, I abandon the cart, swoop up the kid like a football and bum rush anyone in my path on the way to the bathroom—because, no, I didn’t bring any extra clothes in case of an accident. Yeah, that’s right, I live on the edge.
“I Want Candy” — Bow-Wow-Wow (1982)
“I wanna eat!” says the three-year-old. “Yes, okay, it’s breakfast time, so what would you like to eat?” “I want Gummy Bears!” Um, no. “How about some oatmeal?” “I want a Tootsie Pop!” No can do. This is Day 4 of a Candy Free Zone, kid, and if I give in I’ll be the world’s biggest pushover. “Look, I’ll make you scrambled eggs with cheese—your favorite.” “I WANT M&Ms!” Fine. You win. Mommy just wants to finish her coffee before it gets cold.
“Shout” — Tears for Fears (1984)
Unfortunately, this is a common form of communication in my house. For example, the three-year-old shouts at the dog for chewing on her favorite stuffed animal. I hear this commotion from the kitchen and shout at the three-year-old to stop shouting. She then shouts back at me, “Don’t yell at me mom!” Later in the day, I’ll overhear the little one busting her 10-year-old sister for yelling at her 12-year-old sister. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I just know it.
“I Ran” — Flock of Seagulls (1982)
What’s up with little kids running everywhere? Need to go from the car door to the front door? Run! How about through the parking lot? Run! How do we cover the four feet between the kitchen chair and the refrigerator? Run, of course!
“Hungry Like the Wolf” — Duran Duran (1982)
Every few months, my youngest proclaims that she’s “starving.” This is what they call a growth spurt. I just make sure I have a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Diet Coke on hand for those midday hunger attacks. Oops, that was my snack list. I meant organic snap peas, spelt pretzels and dried mango.
“Would I Lie to You?” — Eurythmics (1985)
Me: “Okay, who dumped out all the dog food?”
Three-year-old: “Not me mommy.”
Me: “What is my thong doing on this stuffed panda?”
Three-year-old: “I don’t know mommy.”
Me: “Did you finish the Thin Mints?”
Would your three-year-old lie to you? Absolutely. The “experts” say this is typical behavior for the age. So she’ll grow out of it? Fantastic, but it won’t get me back my Thin Mints.
“Just Like Heaven” — The Cure (1987)
No doubt, having a three-year-old is challenging, but it’s also totally awesome. When she says, “I love you mommy” just because, my heart melts. When she laughs, I tear up with joy. When she figures something out for the first time and her eyes light up with discovery, I swell with pride and gratitude. She reminds me how amazing life is, every day.
“I Wanna Be Sedated” — The Ramones (1980)
I’ll admit, parenting a young child has its benefits, but at the end of a long day, all I want to do is pass out in my own comfy bed—because when you’re in your 40s, sleep is one of the best kinds of sedation. Little did Joey Ramone know that when he penned this punk rock hit it would become my parenting anthem. Here’s to you, Joey, and another day in paradise (Phil Collins – 1989).