Here's Why Your Third Kid Will Probably Be A Brat

by Nancy Palutis
Originally Published: 
Three children lying on the bed smiling and looking straight into the camera
Lisa5201 / Getty

Go ahead, come right out and admit it: your youngest kid is an asshole.

Think that’s a harsh way to describe someone you created? Perhaps. But it’s true: he’s most likely a grade-A asshole. That doesn’t mean you don’t love him more than life, and on many days he’s your favorite of all three kids. (Every mom has a favorite and it changes often. Don’t be an asshole yourself and pretend that’s not true.) He’s adorable and smart and hilarious, and a complete and total nightmare. And it’s most likely all your fault.

When your first kid came along, it was nothing but PBS and endless mommy-and-me classes. When number two was born, things started to complicate a bit. Those Gymboree classes? Ridiculously expensive when you have to pay for two kids and jamming a one-year-old in a Baby Bjorn to avoid paying a second tuition is frowned upon. (It’s possible you know this from experience.) The Sesame Street-only rule expanded to allow for a little Nick Junior. No harm, no foul, right?

By the time the third one showed up, you were worn down: birthing three human beings can do that to a person. With number three, any and all rules about feeding, (first real food: an old chicken nugget found on the floor of the playroom) electronics and media, (figured out the iPad pass code as a toddler like a mini-hacker) and general behavior (harnessed an innate ability to find a permanent marker and draw on every porous surface when left unattended) were largely ignored.

He learned how to climb up on your dining table at the age of one, and amused, you snapped a picture and sent it to your spouse at work. “Isn’t that hysterical? He’s such an athlete!” he replied.

At 18 months, he figured out how to remove his diaper at night and peed all over the crib like a feral cat. You tried every move in the book to get him to keep it on, until you had to resort to duct taping his diaper tabs closed every night. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!” exclaimed the neighbors. Exhausted and smelling of urine, you reluctantly agreed. It was kind of funny that you had to tape your kid into a diaper at night, sending him to bed looking like something that fell out of a trash can.

He terrorized his older siblings, defacing vintage American Girl Dolls with a ballpoint pen, destroying painstakingly-built Lego creations like Godzilla, and each time you made excuses for him. “He’s just a baby!” you told them. “He didn’t mean it!” you promised. And therein was the problem: he did mean it. He meant it good.

So now you stand with a waist-high menace. Beaten down and exposed by parenthood, you can see it clearly: he worked you. His sweet face, the fact that he’s your last baby, his heart-melting hugs; for those reasons and so many more you let him get away with murder. In addition, it seems you planned it, handed him the weapon, and then disposed of the body.

You fucked up big time and you realize it now. With your third child, it clearly wasn’t nature, it was nurture. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad, right?

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