Terrible twos. Threenagers. Feisty Fours. These ages get a bad rap, mostly for good reason: Toddlers are assholes. They behave like the drunk guy at the party: spilling shit everywhere, yelling belligerent nonsense at everyone in sight, and then passing out in the middle of the floor. They eat all your snacks. They piss themselves, and on the rare occasion they make it to the toilet on time, they get pee all over the seat. When your kids are that age, you look at parents with older children with envy.
And indeed, life gets easier when kids get older and more independent. Easier in the sense that your worries shift. Instead of diapers and spilled milk, you deal with braces and backtalk. It’s all relative. Suddenly, one day you wake up, and your little kid is a big kid. Pigtails are replaced with a sassy side-braid and the pink tutu is now a pair of cut-offs. How did that happen? you’ll wonder. And trust me, you will get down on your knees and pray to all things holy to have your urine-soaked 3-year-old back. Because a 9-year-old? Ain’t nobody got time for Nine.
WATCH: How To Survive Age 9
Some of you are shaking your heads right now, saying, “This bitch is bonkers. How fucking hard can a 9-year-old be when my preschooler is refusing to shit anywhere but in a diaper and still wakes up three times a night?” Well, I’m so very glad you asked. Let me give you a little taste of Nine.
Nine is indignant. Nine slams doors, not because Nine is a toddler who likes making loud noises, but because she feels the need to express her extreme annoyance at her little brother because he asked her a question, or he had the nerve to bounce a basketball, or pretty much just because he dares to exist. Nine stomps up the stairs, not because she is a toddler pretending to kill bugs or lead a marching band, but because her little sister doesn’t want to watch the same TV show as her. “Wow, your kid sounds like a brat!” is exactly what you are thinking right now. You’re completely right. Nine is totally a brat.
Nine is sneaky. Nine smuggles a flashlight into her room and secretly stays up for hours past her bedtime, doing god knows what. Nine wants to watch TV shows that are inappropriate for a child her age. When you tell her no, Nine will look them up on YouTube and watch them anyway. When you punish her and take away tablet and television privileges, Nine acts aloof. She doesn’t care because she knows you want her to. To be completely honest, Nine is a little bit of a sociopath.
Nine is ungrateful. Minutes after returning home from a playdate, Nine will beg to have the next door neighbors over. When you explain why that’s not possible tonight, in a ridiculously kind and patient manner, Nine will sigh loudly and snidely mutter something about life being unfair. No matter how many toys or friends or things Nine has, it will never be enough.
Nine will push you to your breaking point. You will have heart-to-heart talks with Nine. You will discipline her, punish her appropriately when need be, and give her more love and support than humanly possible. You will think you are making tremendous headway with Nine, that you are finally getting through to her. You’re not. She’s still Nine.
Don’t get me wrong, Nine is one amazing kid. Nine is helpful and capable, always excited to learn and try something new. Nine is impossibly funny, at just the perfect spot where she understands and appreciates sarcasm and loves a good joke. Nine is truly kind, always the sweetest kid to all of her friends and their parents, who just can’t believe that Nine behaves like anything short of an angel at home.
But good lord, Nine will kill you softly. And the number one, hands-down, biggest issue you’ll have with Nine? You just know in your heart of hearts that Nine ain’t shit compared to Thirteen.
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