10 Reasons Age Three is More Terrible Than Two

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1. At two, they can barely talk. At three, they never shut the hell up.

2. At two, they cry. At three, they throw temper tantrums so epic, you become convinced that they are possessed by the devil.

3. At two, they’re happy to eat anything you present to them. At three, they eat only three foods (usually consisting of a starch and processed cheese.)

4. At two, baths are a ten minute event, the result of which is a clean child. At three, baths take over an hour, and result in a drenched bathroom, sopping wet mommy and 16 used towels.

5. At two, they wear diapers that can be changed on your watch. At three, they’re potty trained and the world revolves around their bladders and bowels.

6. At two, they are distracted by a box of Gerber Puffs at the grocery store. At three, they want to dictate your entire food list.

7. At two, they let you dress them, looking innocent and adorable. At three, they insist on picking out their clothes, looking like pint sized versions of mental institution inhabitants.

8. At two, they don’t like to get dirty. At three, they thrive on it.

9. At two, you can do things for them, saving infinite amounts of time. At three, they must do everything by themselves, taking FOR-fucking-EVER.

10. At two, manipulation is the last thing on their minds. At three, they own you. And they know it.

You Might Have a 3 Year Old If…

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You Might Have a 3 Year Old If...

1. You wish that, when God created children, he remembered to install a mute button.

2. The bigger the rush you are in, the more your child walks like he’s wearing cement boots in a vat of molasses.

3. You feel like you’ve become trapped in the movie Memento, as he tells the same story to you time and time again, always with vigor. You’ve tried to perfect the art of inserting “uh huhs” at the right time but you know (and he knows) you’re not quite there.

4. You are forced to listen to pop music ad nauseum, as Katy Perry is his “fravorite” singer.

5. You’ve decided whomever dubbed them the “terrible twos” is either dumb or has never had a three-year-old.

6. Where you once nibbled on his toes and body parts with abandon, you now wish he wore plastic wrap over his whole body. You’ve seen where he puts things, and it isn’t pretty. You hold hands but cringe knowing he considers booger picking an Olympic sport.

7. After a day with him, you find your new mantra is “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”

8. Sometimes your only goal for the day is to get him through parking lots without dying. He walks through them like one of the patients who have just escaped catatonia in the movie Awakenings. His mouth is agape and he zigzags like he’s trying to escape an alligator. You only narrowly escape your goal.

9. He will never remember to put his yogurt wrapper in the garbage but will never, EVER forget the ONE time you ran a red light. Let it go, Dude!

10. He’s never tired until … zzzzzzz …

11. He could care less what you dress him in, which you take advantage of far too often.

12. Put any same-sized human next to him, and they are instantly friends.

13. Finding two matching shoes is more difficult than solving the Pythagorean theorem. Same goes for socks.

14. You do not want to sit too close, as the insults about blemishes, yellow teeth, nose hairs, etc., will crush your soul.

15. Although you could have sworn you just cut them, his toenails will always look like those of Howard Hughes.

16. He’ll eat fruit like it’s crack but any veggies get a “What’s dis?”

17. He’s a major conservationist, as he not only lets the yellow mellow but he also doesn’t flush the brown down.

18. Talk of any vulgar bodily function will send him into a fit of laughter that you think could kill him.

19. He is a terror at home but his preschool teacher and babysitter report he is nothing but an angel. Figures.

20. Despite any of the bad stuff goes with it, you wish so badly you could create a machine that freezes him at this age, as he is bursting with cuteness.

A Letter to My Children Concerning Their Artwork

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Dear Children,

I love you. You know that.

In fact one of you, and I won’t name names, is already over that game I play where I say, “Hey, I have to tell you a secret,” and then you come over and I whisper “I love you so much” in your ear. You can deny it, but your eye roll says it all. Regardless, I will continue to tell you how much I love you a gazillion times a day. This will never get old to me. Never. And one day, if you have kids, you will do the same. I can promise you that.

But I digress. Back to the topic.

We need to have a serious chat about something. I love you. (See, there I go again.) And that means all of you. Including everything you create with those perfect (although usually extremely dirty) little hands of yours. But as we approach the beginning of another school year—with one of you starting preschool and one of you starting (gulp!) kindergarten—and in anticipation of the family trees and pumpkins and snowmen and doily hearts and clovers and bunnies and American flags that you’ll undoubtedly be bringing home throughout the year, I need to ask you to slow your roll on the amount of artwork you create. And I use the term “artwork” loosely to include your drawings and paintings, any craft projects you make, those pages you’ve ripped out of activity books to color and adorn with stickers, the random Post-Its and scraps of paper I find all over the house with cryptic writing and various symbols drawn on them, and anything covered in doodles. Oh, and those pieces of paper that look completely blank at first glance but really have a few teeny tiny lines or dots or squigglies on them so that they cannot be used in the printer. Hopefully you get the point.

But why, you ask? Well, because we just don’t have the refrigerator space, or wall space, or cork board space, or desk space, or floor space, or shelf space, or closet space, or drawer space, or filing cabinet space, or car space, or purse space, or diaper bag space, or under-the-bed space, or under-the-couch space…to showcase every blessed piece of your artwork.

Plus, and I know this is going to sound very harsh, but it’s true… not every single thing you draw is a keeper. I refer you back to those papers with two barely visible markings on them. Or the colorful, glittery scraps not even you care to keep track of (and that I’m constantly getting stuck to the bottom of my feet). And while I’m sharing secrets, your drawings the other day didn’t accidentally fall into the trash can. (Read “recycle bin” if that makes you feel better.) Mommy put them there. On purpose. (Although apparently I didn’t bury them deep enough.) Because Mommy and Daddy’s most-used filing cabinet is, I’m sorry to say, our trash can.

Now, don’t wrinkle your noses up at me. You’re going to thank me one day for this. Honest to God. How do I know? Well, first, I can promise that you won’t want to be strapped with the mortgage payments we’d be ready to hand over for the house(s) we’d need to buy for the sole purposes of storing all of your art.

And second, when you’re older, you will have no idea what to do with the 83 gazillion boxes of old artwork that we’d be pushing on you the second you have your own place. How do I know this? Well, when I was little, Gramma (hi Mom, you know I love you) kept pretty much everything I made and saved it all in boxes. And when I got older she’d plea with me to take all of the stuff she had saved because it was taking up too much room. You know why it was taking up too much room? Because there was too-damned-much stuff in there, that’s why. Sure, I’ll admit that it was kinda fun going through things and seeing how extremely talented I was from a very young age. (Ahem.) But after that, I had no idea what to do with the boxes and boxes of discolored papers that smelled like they had been sitting in a basement for 20+ years.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of your art pieces are forever keepers. But hows about we make a pact moving forward for all the rest?

I know it upsets you to think about me throwing away all of your hard work. So, I promise I won’t throw things away willy nilly anymore (because I have to admit, I did feel a little bad when you found that stuff in the trash). If there are things you want to keep, we can. We can do a weekly rotation (although if I’m being realistic, let’s say monthly; ok, fine, twice a year), and then we can re-evaluate. If you still want to save something once its display time has elapsed, let’s save it in a photo. I can take pictures and we can save them on my computer or on a CD or thumb drive. Or heck, even on our “cloud.” Then we can throw away/recycle the actual art. This has the twofold benefit of 1) saving space (in our house, anyway, oh and in yours in the future) and 2) keeping a record of your art that doesn’t yellow or take on that musty basement smell over time. Then, if you want to get crafty and creative with the pictures down the road, do it! It’ll mean you’ve activated some lazy recessive gene of mine that until this point in my life has remained pretty dormant.

What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Looking forward to all of your future masterpieces. Just don’t expect me to save them all.

Love, Mommy

The Preschoolers Guide to Hide and Seek

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#1: Tell your Mom EXACTLY where you are hiding. Example: “Mommy!! I am hiding in the baaaaaathrooooooom!”

#2: Giggle very loudly while you wait for someone to find you. Brace yourself! For some reason, they usually show up within seconds afterwards!

#3: Hide in the SAME EXACT SPOT each time. The bathroom! Again!

#4: Make sure part of your body is visible in your hiding spot. I usually like to keep a whole leg sticking out.

#5: If you haven’t been found within 15-30 seconds, come out of your hiding spot and insist that the game start over. Sometimes I just wait 5 seconds.

#6: Bring a friend to your hiding spot whenever possible. Make sure your friend is completely visible, while you are completely hidden (except for that leg).

#7: Laugh really, really, really loudly with your friend. This always makes people find you fast. I haven’t figured out why yet.

#8: Yell out “COME FIND ME!!!!!!!” when you hear someone within inches of your hiding spot. She will usually find you pretty quickly afterwards. Be prepared.

#9: Once found, run wildly out of your hiding spot and into something, preferably a sibling, friend or a really hard object or wall. After crying for a few minutes & being consoled, get up already. It’s time to play some more.

#10: When it is your turn to count to 10, don’t close your eyes and begin looking for everyone when you get to the number 3.

A Parent’s Prayer for Potty Training in the Digital Age

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Guide me, O Lord, that I may refrain from over-sharing on the Internet every blessed detail of the trials and tribulations of potty training; May neither Blog nor Facebook nor Twitter bear witness to my joy at the sight of poo in the potty, nor my frustration over the invariable pee-pee in the pants.

Dear God, grant me Restraint and Self-censorship, that friends and family and loyal readers alike may be spared the tedious ramblings surrounding potty trips, soiled underwear, potty schedules, soiled carpets, business done in the potty, unfortunate-yet-inevitable accidents, soiled furniture, number of books read or songs sung while on the potty, and/or how many stickers were awarded each day for going tinkle vs. chocolate treats for doing poops. May such rhetoric instead be contained to phone calls with grandparents, for this is why Thou created them.

Bestow upon me the knowledge, O Lord, that the only people who give a damn what kind of underpants my little girl is wearing are the pedophiles who may at some point in their miserable lives be busted in a massive child pornography sting. But should these pervs somehow elude the watchful eye of Chris Hansen in collaboration with the FBI and now come a-creepin’ courtesy of SEO and the Almighty Google, may Thou conjure a rabid honey badger to suddenly appear and chew off their junk. Because honey badger don’t care, Lord. He just don’t give a shit.

And be my conscience, God, that I may pause and reflect before [again] posting to the World Wide Web a photo of my child sitting bare-assed on the toilet, no matter how cute her expression, and instead ask myself, “Would I want to be violated like that?” (And Lord, that the answer be no – because let’s face it, some people are into that sort of thing.)

Indeed, Almighty God, help me bear in mind that one’s time spent in the bathroom is both sacred and private. And that the topic of bodily waste is neither adorable nor appropriate to the world at large, even when framed in the context of a toddler’s baby-soft bum, as opposed to a grown man’s giant, hairy ass.

And finally, Lord, may I look upon my child at times with objective eyes rather than maternal ones, that I should see her no longer as an infant, but as a little person – one with genuine thoughts and feelings and an unmitigated right to basic privacy.

Hear these pleas, O Lord, and lead me not into Stupidity. For it is in Thy name I pray, forever and ever.

Amen.

Three is the New Two

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Waaah!

“What if he is an asshole forever?” my hubby bemoans as we drive home with a thrashing, screeching three-year-old strapped into the car.

“I’m sure it’s just a phase,” I reassure myself nervously.

This was our first child, so I was not at all sure that this was a phase.  After all, I had no comparison, no guarantee that he wouldn’t always be the raging, angry, menacing, tantruming, spitting, screaming, hateful asshole he had been embodying for the last month.

What had changed in the last month?  What had happened to our sweet baby?  We’d made it through the terrible twos relatively unscathed.  It was supposed to be easy sailing between now and adolescence, right?

The man who coined the term “the terrible twos” must have moved abroad for the entirety of his child’s third year.

Of course my precious boy had had outbursts when he was two, but nothing that had prepared me for what began one week after my boy’s third birthday.

After a rushed mission through Target with my grouchy son strapped into the cart, we stood in a slow moving checkout line.  Leo was growing more and more agitated, wiggling and whining, begging to be let out of what must, to him, have been the equivalent of water boarding.  Mind you, this assumption is based solely on his reaction to confinement in the cart.  I refused his requests as we were almost at the head of the line, but my repeated denials only enraged the little prince further.

Just as the cashier began to scan our items, the dam containing the rage held within the tiny body of my three-year-old broke wide and a gush of profanity was released.  His adorable little rosebuds lips open and his squeak of a voice screams, “MOTHER FUCKER! MOTHER FUCKER! MOTHER FUCKER!”

I am literally stunned into silence, awestruck by the filth flowing freely from his miniscule vocal cords.  “MOTHER FUCKER! MOTHER FUCKER! MOTHER FUCKER!”

Holy fuck! Where the hell did he learn that kind of despicable language?  Certainly not from me!  What the shit am I supposed to do about this?  I can’t just ignore it.  Oh, bloody fuck in a fuck hole, everyone is staring.

Pondering what action to take, I am distracted by a howling laugh.  The teenage cashier thinks this situation hilarious.  Did I mention that I am a high school teacher?  Because, I went full out teacher on that kid’s ass: “You think this is funny? You think it’s funny that a three-year-old boy is screaming profanity in a public place in order to manipulate his mother into giving him what he wants? This little boy looks up to you as a big kid, and your laughter only teaches him that this type of behavior is not only acceptable, but encouraged.  Shame on you!”

Granted, this anger may have been slightly misplaced.

The Target incident, as we now refer to it, is topped only by the battle of wills our three-year-old daughter, Cecily, fought with me over the fact that a pair of shoes we’d purchased did not fit.

“I WANT THEM! I WANT THEM! I WANT THEM!”

“I know you do, but they don’t fit. Let’s put on your sparkly pair.”

“NO! NO! I WANT THEM!!!!” she bellows as she thrashes wildly on the floor.  “I WANT THEM!” she screeches between heaving sobs.

This epically ridiculous battle continues for ten minutes as I struggle to shove her sparkle shoes onto her feet, all the while keeping an eye on the clock as I am now going to be late to work.  I foolishly forgot to schedule a 15 minute tantrum buffer.

“NO! I WANT TO DO IT! I WANT TO PUT MY SPARKLE SHOES ON BY MYSELF!”

“Okay, you do it then, but we need to hurry.”

“NO! NO! I WANT YOU TO DO IT! I WANT YOU TO PUT MY SHOES ON!”

“Then give me the shoes, and I will put them on,” I insist through gritted teeth.

“NO, NO, NO!!!!!!! I CAN DO IT! GET AWAY FROM ME! I CAN DO IT!”

I’ve reached my breaking point.  “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME, CECILY FRANCES. I have to go to work. I have to go,” I attempt to reason with her, in vain.  I shove the shoes onto her kicking feet, repeatedly pummeled by her flailing arms.  I stuff her under my arm (picture, if you will, a writhing, bellowing 28 pound football) and head out the front door.  Keep in mind, it is 6:15 a.m. on a frosty Winter’s morning.  It is pitch black and silent, as the majority of the neighbors are still snuggled cozily into their beds.  At least, they were.

I see the lights next door and those across the street flick on as I wrestle the still shrieking Cecily into my van.  I can only imagine that I must appear to be a kidnapper, struggling to abduct a frantic little victim.  But, no.  I can’t imagine any kidnapper would put up with this behavior.  I am simply trying to get my kid into a pair of shoes and into the damn car.

Embarrassing admission time.  In point of fact, as I write this, Cecily is acting as inspiration.  Ahhhh…my unwelcome little muse.  While jumping on the couch, an activity she has been expressly forbidden to participate in several times, she accidentally kicks her father in the face.  I calmly and firmly order her into the Naughty Spot.

“NO!” she stubbornly affirms, topping off her insubordination by spitting at me.

I take a deep breath and begin my 1-2-3 Magic training: “One. Go to the Naughty Spot.”

“NO!” she refuses, and showers me further with saliva.

“Two. Go to the Naughty Spot.”

“NO!” she screams, dousing me, once again, with spittle.  My stomach knots as I strain to control my temper.  Holy shit!  If this is what she is like as a three-year-old, what the hell am I in store for when she’s thirteen?

“Three. Move to the Naughty spot or you will be going up to bed now, without story or song.” In her final act of resistance, she gathers a mouthful of loogy and spits forth a raging raspberry.  “Ok. Take her up to bed,” I demand of my hubby.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don’t want to go to bed. I want a different mommy. You are NOT NICE!”  she hurls her most injurious insult at me.  The next twenty minutes are a raging storm of high pitched screams and a torrent of tears, but she is finally cajoled into her bed.

The only cure I know for this hideous behavior? A fourth birthday.

My little princess turns four at the end of December and, this year, it isn’t Christmas that can’t come soon enough.

How to Potty Train A Boy

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Wondering how to potty train a boy? Even though your largely reluctant, borderline belligerent two year old is standing in his potty chair and peeing on your floor today, tomorrow (well in 7 days) he can be potty trained.

That’s right. How to potty train a boy.

Start to finish. Seven. Days.

I’m not saying it wasn’t so hard that I wanted to tie their naked little tails to the potty until they went give up; it was.  Totally.

But it wasn’t impossible and you too can be the proud owner of an, albeit reluctant, borderline belligerent, probably even slightly disgruntled, but pretty much all the way potty trained two (or three, or four?) year old boy if you do exactly as I say.

Added bonus; no one will get hurt.

1.  Buy supplies.  Fancy potty chair…check.  Special, flushable,moist booty wiping towellettes…check.  Super fun reward for “making”…check.  Instructional materials in the form of Elmo potty books and DVDs…check.  One sexy pair of toddler sized drawers to get him in the mood… the only thing that worked for #3.

He honestly didn’t give a care about the potties or the books or even the rewards.  All he cared about was looking like an effing rock star in his big boy chonies (aka Mexican word for under shorts).

2.  Get over nudity.  Because chances are there will be a lot of it.  #3 spent most of his training time running around the house in the buff.  He liked to wear his big baller drawers, but once soiled, off they’d come leaving him to free ball it the rest of the day.  This technique actually made him more aware of the goings on in his junk, so he’d start to go and then grab it to make it stop, giving me ample time to grab him, and run his naked tail to one of the strategically located pee depots (we set up potties in various rooms to keep them within reach at all times).

3.  Bribery.  Some kids respond to the sticker charts and what not.  #1 did, #2 not so much, and #3 not at all.  Unless you count the dang Cheetos…

Your choice on this one, but it could work, particularly at the beginning when you are just trying to coax the little baddie out of his diaper and onto the pot.  A little sit here, see what happens, don’t cry or kick Mommy in the face, and I’ll give you a sucker afterwards (even if you don’t actually produce anything).

4.  Get serious.  Mom, Dad, and every other human creature living in or making frequent trips to your potty party during the designated training period should be briefed on the get-kid-to-the-potty-quick procedures.  At Casa de Dummies, we devote one solid week to the training up of the kid.  We may have to alter our schedule to ensure that we are mostly just at home, but the mild inconvenience is totally worth it.  I haven’t changed crap pants in months, people.  MONTHS!  If that’s not incentive enough to take a week off and stay home then I don’t know what is.  Seriously, dragging it out over months is really not as effective.  The kid loses interest, you get sidetracked, and both of your wind up frustrated.  Potty training is just like every single other parenting issue ever; it’s all about consistency.  You can’t let him crap himself today and then expect him to remember that you don’t want him to crap himself tomorrow.  If you can’t devote time and effort to the battle, I say don’t start it until you can (or until your kid is about to head off to kindergarten, whichever comes first).

5.  It’s all about the preparation.  Every cloth diapering mom will tell you that one of the benefits of putting your kid in them is ease of potty training.  It is true.  But, there is hope for those of you who didn’t: DON’T USE PULL-UPS!  Use undies…

I know, Pull-Ups are convenient and they prevent you from having to follow your kid around with a bottle of carpet cleaner.  I get it.  And, when we had to leave the house, we used them too.  But, I’m telling you, if you want to get on the fast track to potty trained bliss you will go straight from diapers to underwear (the absorbent padded kind are fine) and skip the Pull-Up middle man.  Let me explain why.

  1. Kids get sick of standing in a puddle of urine.  Even the most belligerent ones will figure out that standing in a puddle of urine at the park or the store (fingers crossed this doesn’t happen, but if it does it will be a teaching moment!) sucks, and standing in a puddle of urine at home ain’t all that fun either!
  2. Kids learn what the Pull-Up is for.  #3, evil mastermind that he is, learned this quickly.  He would pee in the Pull-Up every time I put one on him.  It was like his comfort zone because he knew I wouldn’t know that he peed them for a while and he wouldn’t care that he peed them ever.  They know Pull-Ups are for peeing.  Even the ones where they get those nasty micro beads all over their package so they “feel wet” aren’t deterrents to the most reluctant bunch.
  3. They are more expensive than diapers and like 95% less durable and absorbent.  Why would you want to pay more for something if it doesn’t suck less?

There you have it, friends. Best of luck!