10 Things All Parents of Preschoolers Know for Sure

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1. Something or someone is always wet. You ask, “Why is this wet?” almost every day, even though most of the time you don’t really want to know the answer.

2. Fashion sense has suddenly become a thing. If you don’t think that leopard-print tights look fantastic with a plaid skirt, prepare for war. And if there is one size 2T shirt stuck in the back of her drawer, she will find it. It’s now her favorite shirt in the world so just stop it with your “too small” and “worn-out” nonsense.

3. Band-Aids are important. They are everywhere, all the time. Band-aids have magical healing powers, make fabulous accessories, and stick nicely to the dog. Your house is most likely littered with them, but that’s not as disgusting as it may sound because band-aids are rarely used for any actual bleeding wounds anyway.

4. Preschoolers will eat things at preschool that they won’t eat at home. A child who claimed that mashed potatoes were “stinky” at home will happily eat them at preschool. When you foolishly try to serve potatoes at home again, she will declare that you don’t know how to make the “more yummy” preschool potatoes.

5. A child who behaved himself all day at preschool can turn into a screeching grouch-monster the second he gets home. You’re glad that he behaves himself at school and feels safe enough to let out his emotions with you, blah blah blah, but for the love of all that is holy, your post-preschool child makes you want to buckle him into the car and take him right back to his teachers.

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6. If you’re eating something that you don’t want to share, you can just tell them that it’s “spicy” or “minty.” Things that my children now think are spicy and/or minty: lemon cupcakes, Egg McMuffins, and waffle cones.

7. Poop is never NOT hilarious. To preschoolers, poop is always the perfect topic for jokes, and it’s especially great to bring it up when everyone is eating. Better yet, make a joke about eating poop. Comedy gold.

8. You have to use all the stickers at once. It’s very important that you don’t leave any white space on a piece of paper if it could be covered with a sticker. If, on the other hand, you run out of white space on the paper before you’ve used all the stickers, just stick them on the dog. With the band-aids.

9. Preschoolers truly believe that anything is possible. Take them to a circus and they’ll ask if you can get a flying trapeze to hang from the ceiling at your house. Tell them about the time you traveled somewhere far away, and they’ll ask if they can get on a plane and go there after lunch. They’ll declare their plans to marry their siblings, have 14 elephants for pets, and eat ice cream every day when they’re grown up, and you won’t have the heart to tell them that they can’t.

And finally,

10. Preschoolers are never boring. Just when you think you’ve got them all figured out, they will change. One challenging phase may disappear, but a new one will pop up in its place. Preschoolers learn and grow and change so fast that you will look at them some days and wonder how these wild, enormous kids came to live at your house. They are full of mischief, full of questions, and full of love.  And they’re also full of poop jokes, which everyone knows are hilarious.

Related post: 7 Ways My Preschooler Is Like a Kardashian

She’s Not an Asshole, She’s Just a 3-Year-Old

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Her face is beet red, and her tiny body is wracked with sobs. My daughter flings herself to the floor of the department store changing room in an angry protest. Her grandmother is about to buy her a special dress, but my child is filled with rage because she wanted three dresses. Yes, even the one she claimed didn’t “spin right,” and the one she refused to even try on. Inferior as they may have been, she wanted to bring home allthedresses. So instead of saying “thank you!” to Grammy, she bawls and rages on the filthy dressing room floor.

She’s not an asshole; she’s just a 3-year-old.

Her sweet little friend implores her to join her in a game of “walk the stick.” (WTF? Whatever.) My daughter politely refuses. Her angelic-looking friend’s little face crumples with disappointment. “Sophie?” I remind her pleasantly. “Remember how sad you were last week when you wanted your friends to play Rescue Bots and they said no? This is how Emma feels right now. Why don’t you play ‘walk the stick’ for a few minutes?” She stares at me impassively. “No, thank you!” she chirps, turning on her heel to walk away.

She’s not a sociopath; she’s just a 3-year-old.

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It’s time to use the bathroom before we leave the house. My daughter refuses to go. “Oh, good, because Mommy has to go really badly,” I lie, scrambling for the bathroom. “Do you need to go really bad?” my preschooler asks with interest. “Are you going to pee your pants?” I nod somberly and watch her race me to the toilet.

She’s not a sadist; she’s just a 3-year-old.

“May I watch Rescue Bots when we get home?” my daughter inquires. “Yes, you may!” I respond cordially. “Your sister has piano lessons and you may watch an episode before we go grocery shopping.” My happy child suddenly throws her bowl of pirate booty to the floor of the minivan and arches her back with indignation. “But I want to watch A LOT OF SHOWS!!!” she explodes, eyes bugging.

She’s not an ingrate; she’s just a 3-year-old.

“It’s time to take a bath!” I announce, filling the tub with water. “But I caaaan’t!” my daughter wails. “My knee hurts!”

“Would you like a Band-Aid?” I offer helpfully.

“NO! THAT WILL MAKE IT WORSE!” she retorts, outraged at my incompetence.

“Should we put some cream on it?” I suggest.

Had she the dexterity, she would have flipped me the bird. Instead, she sighs with exasperation and covers her face with her hands. She is clearly dealing with total idiots here.

She’s not a drama queen; she’s just a 3-year-old.

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When in my threenager’s company, I rarely go more than several minutes without encountering her dark side. She is constantly sobbing over some injustice, be it my refusal to allow her to ingest the entire Costco box of Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks or the fact that her Dora nightlight isn’t properly aligned with her bed railing. It’s as though she lives in a constant state of PMS and has just found out that chocolate is now illegal and her favorite soap opera has been canceled. I contemplate crushing up some mood stabilizers and sneaking it into her yogurt tube.

But then I remember: she’s not chemically unbalanced. She’s just a 3-year-old.

Come to think of it, she is kind of an asshole. But she won’t be forever.

Related post: Three is More Terrible Than Two

The 10 Things Moms With Three Year Olds Fear Most

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For a couple of years after my son turned that magical, yet more reasonable age number 4, I remember looking at him warily every time something didn’t go quite his way. I was waiting fearfully for him to lose his ever-loving mind like he did his entire third year. For awhile, we called this Post-traumatic-three-year-old-syndrome.

Oh crap! The dog ate his cheese stick! Run and hide, he’s going to blow!

Now that I am in the midst of having my second 3 year-old, I am reminded that there are some perfectly normal every day things that I am now afraid of. Once again.

1. A change in plans. One day, my daughter cheerfully sat in the car in her gymnastics outfit. As I put the car in reverse, I felt something…strange. The car had a flat tire. We were going to MISS GYMNASTICS. The icy fear that suddenly clutched my heart had nothing to do with trying to figure out how to change a tire and everything to do with having to tell my daughter the bad news. She did not take it well.

2. Unfamiliar food. This is especially awkward if you are at someone else’s house. And while I have hope that manners are forthcoming, right now if you serve my 3 year-old an item of food she doesn’t recognize, she is going to give you a piece of her mind and I am going to die of embarrassment.

3. Waking someone up from a nap. Once a week I have to wake my daughter up before she is ready to be up. I go into her room armed with snacks and forced happiness and my voice trembling. I am unable to do anything right in those 15 minutes of my life. I will pick the wrong socks, the wrong snack, the wrong way to breathe. It will all be WRONG.

4. Sticking to your guns. You gotta do this sometimes. I mean, most of the time. But it’s the scariest thing ever, especially when you accidentally say something stupid like, if you don’t put your pajamas on RIGHT NOW and stop screwing around, you aren’t getting your story tonight. They sometimes want to see if you’re serious and then…well…shit gets real.

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5. Too much cheerfulness. It’s almost like my daughter is a pendulum that must always swing equally to each side between cheerfulness and crabbiness. If it goes too far into happy land…I’m basically screwed.

6. Something spilling on someone’s favorite shirt. No words can express how frightening that 2 second pause between milk dousing the front of the beloved Rainbow Shirt and my 3 year-old’s realization that she will have to wear SOMETHING DIFFERENT. I’m scared just talking about it.

7. Helping someone when they clearly don’t want to be helped. God help me with soap dispensers that are too hard for her to do by herself. The one at soccer practice has ruined our day more than once.

8. Accidentally laughing at someone when they are being very serious. I try not to do this. I realize that it’s not very nice. But I do have to admit that when a small person is very seriously “telling on daddy” because he wouldn’t sing her a song after she hit him, it’s super hard to keep a straight face.

9. Missing a meal. Ummm. No…just nope. I’ve learned my lesson on that one.

10. Disappointing news. And if you don’t think you could ever be afraid of a 3 year-old? Try telling one that they can’t go to the birthday party that they have been foaming at the mouth about FOR WEEKS because they are sick.

Go for it. I dare you.

Related post: Three Year Olds Are The Same as Asshole Bosses

5 Things Your Child’s Preschool Teacher Wants You to Know

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For many years before I became a stay at home mom, I worked as a teacher (and later a manager and then an owner) in several different daycare centers. Though each childcare center is certainly different, there are a few universal truths to which anyone who has ever worked in one can attest. Here are the big ones:

1. We actually do love your children like our own (but we swear we’re not trying to replace you.) Despite what you may think, childcare workers make terrible, scary-bad money. In addition to being grossly underpaid, we are often short-handed and typically don’t get the respect that our colleagues who teach in the higher grades do. So trust me when I say that we’re there because we really, really love kids. And glitter in our hair. And bleach stains all over our clothes. Plus, there’s a certain bond that forms when you willingly extract the boogers from the nose of a person to which you did not yourself give birth. But, we know our boundaries, and, at the end of the day you still hold the title of the lifetime nose-pickers, mom and dad.

2. We really wish you’d keep your sick kid at home. Trust me, we get it. Your boss is an asshole who doesn’t have kids and can’t understand why you need to take a 12th day off this month to tend to your perpetually-sick offspring. Or your child was vomiting Exorcist-style all night but she seems 100% back to normal this morning, so why not send her to school? Because, even after working for years on end around children, some childcare workers still get every single illness that passes through our classrooms, especially since we are the one constant in the room. Yes, we do understand that it’s daycare—kids are going to get sick and so will we; it’s inevitable. But, if there’s any way you can contribute to the general health of the class, we’re begging you to please do it. And don’t send your feverish kid in hyped up on Tylenol. You know we’re just gonna call you in 2 hours when it wears off.

3. We LOVE when you tell us how much you appreciate us. The days are long when you’re responsible for wrangling 20-something paint-smearing, diaper-soiling toddlers who can’t verbalize their love for you through anything other than sharing their bodily fluids. Don’t get me wrong—the work is fun and rewarding and some days it feels like the best job on earth (who else gets to color and make Play-doh at work?) but it is also incredibly demanding and sometimes thankless. When you go out of your way to give us kudos for the work we do, it really means the world to us, whether you realize it or not. And if you bring us snacks? Well, we just might follow you home.

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4. We sympathize with you when your kid gets bitten/scratched/pinched/kicked by another kid (and when your kid is the biter/scratcher/pincher/kicker.) I can’t tell you how much it sucks to have to relay the message to a parent that some harm came to his or her child while under our watch. Even though we’ve done it countless times and it may seem like business as usual, we feel horrible (and responsible) for every incident that we weren’t able to prevent. And, if your child happens to be the perpetrator, we feel for that too, because many of us have children ourselves and we know what it’s like to be the recipient of that information (sometimes it’s worse.) Just know that we don’t relish the task of spoiling your pickup with bad news—we truly hate saying it as much as you hate hearing it.

5. We want to know you, too (and for you to know us). While we’re always happy to talk about your child at drop-off and pickup, we also love the occasional chitchat about life outside of the four walls of daycare. We know everything there is to know about your child (her favorite story at circle time, the exact temperature she prefers her mac and cheese, the way she naps with her finger twisted in her blankie) but we want to get to know you too. Some of you aren’t talkers and that’s OK, but we love it when you open up to us about yourselves and your lives because your children are such a big part of ours. And when you ask about our lives? That’s pretty cool, too. We swear we have hobbies other than fingerpainting and reading Llama Llama in sing-song. After your kid graduates, go ahead and call us up for a drink. Trust me, us preschool teachers really know how to unwind.

Related post: Parents Of One Perfect Child Under Preschool Age

7 Reasons To Love The Terrible Twos

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You know that one friend that gets too drunk all the time? As the night goes on they get louder and louder. They stammer and stumble. They’ll pick a fight with anyone and cry over anything. They occasionally pee themselves. This is exactly what having a toddler is like.

Except that toddlers are also adorable. Their cuteness far exceeds their terribleness. It has to — this is evolution’s way of making sure that when they’re screaming on the floor in the middle of Target, we don’t just leave them there. In case you need reminding at the moment, here are seven reasons to love the terrible twos…

1. Their enthusiasm is contagious. To watch a kid squeal in delight over the littlest things puts everything else in perspective. Our kid loses her mind over things like bubbles, stickers, balloons, markers and glitter. It’s impossible not to get swept up in the moment and be excited right along with them. (Side note: This is also what makes holidays with toddlers the BEST.)

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2. Ain’t no party like a toddler party cuz a toddler party don’t stop. If left to their own devices, toddlers would only sleep after collapsing into some type of carb-induced coma. Turns out their nonstop energy also makes them the best dance/exercise/play/cleaning/cooking partners ever.

3. They genuinely WANT to help out. Ours helps with things like dishes, laundry, putting things away, and sorting. She seriously loves it. I hear that children eventually outgrown this desire to help so I plan to exploit, er, cultivate it while I still can.

4. They are great communicators. She can tell me her likes and dislikes. We can trade and make deals. She totally takes a bribe. I am counting the days until her six-month-old brother masters these skills.

5. They are still so small. Tiny clothes! Not to mention all the tiny hats and accessories. It’s cuteness overload pretty much all of the time.

6. Their love makes you melt. Our daughter will come up to me out of the blue to give me a hug and say, “I love you.” I can’t explain in words what this feels like, but it’s amazing. I even caught my husband welling up when it happened to him. He still claims something was in his eye.

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7. They are HILARIOUS. Toddlers want desperately to entertain you. They will sing, dance, make silly faces — whatever it takes to get you laughing. Sometimes they don’t even have to try. Their observations and expanding vocabulary are pretty amusing in their own right.

So yes, toddlers run around like little lushes most the time. But in the blink of an eye they’ll be grown. So take the time to notice and praise the amazing things your toddler does. And when you find them passed out on the floor, elbow-deep in a bag of chips, remember to be grateful that they’re still small enough to carry off to bed.

Related post: 10 Reasons Age Three is More Terrible Than Two