The F*cking Fours Are F*cking Brutal

by Joanna McClanahan
Originally Published: 
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People complain about the “Terrible Twos” and “Threenagers,” but they don’t have anything on the frustration of the Fucking Fours.

The toddler years are tough. Sure, they look cute, but that’s just nature’s way of ensuring we don’t leave them out on the curb. They’re still learning to communicate their needs and that leads to a lot of frustration, crying, screaming, and meltdowns in the middle of Target…from both of us.

But the Fucking Fours are unique because your toddlers are smart and have learned exactly how to manipulate you. In fact, they have that shit down to a science. They’ve picked up shitty behavior from other kids and learned that tantrums can work when you’re weak and exhausted (so basically always) and they use those powers for evil.

My son used to be a great eater. He’d try anything. Now that he’s 4? He will go on a straight-up hunger strike until he gets some version of fried potatoes. Like a mini Gandhi, except instead of protesting human rights’ abuses, he’s protesting a lack of carbs.

He used to take naps. Now he’s just a cranky asshole from nap time until he finally goes to bed. Which means bedtime is even more of a shit show than it usually is.

Last year we were on track for potty training, but now he seems to be regressing. I swear this kid will poop in his underwear out of pure spite.

He used to love baths. Now trying to get him to take one is like trying to wrestle a feral cat into the tub.

He used to yell for something he wanted at the store, like cookies or cereal. But now he’ll throw a fit if there’s anything in the cart he doesn’t want. He screamed at me for trying to buy him new socks the other day. The nerve of me.

Our toddler has gone from being an adorable, sometimes cranky 3-year-old to a 4-year-old who owns us and he knows it.

My husband said the other day that we could each get jobs as hostage negotiators at this point, and he’s not wrong. Our entire lives are now based around making deals with the tiny terrorist that runs our household.

I know there will be comments about how we’ve probably spoiled him and created this monster. And maybe I have spoiled him to some extent because he’s my baby. But what are my options?

I’m not going to spank him or break his spirit. I’ve tried time-outs and they don’t work. I’m really at a loss for how to discipline this kid when everything we try only seems to make things worse.

4-year-olds are smart enough to know exactly what buttons to push, and are constantly testing our boundaries. They’re defiant just for the sake of being defiant. They insist on doing everything themselves, with zero regard for the fact that it makes a simple errand take 45 days instead of 45 minutes. They will cry to get something, then cry because you got them the exact thing they asked for.

The fucking fours are fucking brutal. At this point, we’re just hunkering down and trying to survive, and hoping the storm will calm after he turns five.

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