The terrible twos used to be the bane of every parent’s existence. That is, until threenagers came along. Ugh, threenagers, amirite? With their ever-changing opinions, their volatile emotions, and irrational behavior, threenagers test even the most tolerant parent’s patience and resilience.
Except — call me bonkers — but I think threenagers are pretty damn awesome.
Look, I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re thinking that I’m just some older mom who looks back on previous childhood phases with more idealistic nostalgia than realistic memories. Parents love to look back on childhood with rose-colored glasses.
A mom will reminisce about cuddling a newborn and forget about the sleepless nights, cracked nipples, and colicky crying. The mom of a teenager will complain about how insignificant potty-training woes seemed compared to the stress of waiting for a teen who’s out past curfew. And the empty-nester will wax on about all of it, telling us to enjoy it because it goes so fast! (Cue eyeroll.)
But hear me out. I’m not prone to putting on my rose-colored glasses when looking back on my kids’ childhoods. Personally, I usually prefer whatever phase we are currently in. My ovaries don’t explode when I see a cute baby, and I don’t wish my kids were in diapers again even though it means squishy baby legs and happy coos. Given that my kids are in the proverbial “sweet spot” at ages 7 and 10, it isn’t hard to love this phase — right here, right now — the best.
Except I’m a sucker for 3-year-olds, and it really isn’t that long ago that I had one in my house.
If you ask me, threenagers get a bad rap.
Sure, they’re prone to extremes and bouts of irrationality. They are high-strung and need to CTFD about just about everything. Any parent who has gotten into a 20-minute argument over which day of the week it is (and we all have had this argument) will tell you that 3-year-olds can be difficult, to say the least. They are moody, irrational, and highly emotional. Then again, so am I? Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
Aside from any behavioral similarities, let me explain just why I think threenagers are all kinds of awesome.
Three-year-olds are sweet and talkative, and they laugh a lot. Sure, they are prone to tantrums, but they are small enough to be removed from a situation, and believe me, a flailing 3-year-old is much easier to remove from a restaurant than reasoning with a 6- and 10-year-old who are fighting loudly over who gets to use the tablet first.
Three-year-olds have all the sweetness of toddlers, but with slightly more predictability. They are often potty-trained, and sleeping in their own bed on a regular schedule. (Please note: I said often, not always.) They can carry on a conversation, tell jokes, and have their own interests and opinions.
They are like little balls of energy ready to grab life by the horns. Three-year-olds wear tutus and rainbow-striped tights. They wear astronaut helmets 24/7 because they have no doubt they are heading for the stars, and they rock a tiara like they own the world, because in their mind, they do own the world. Three-years-olds wear every single accessory in their dress-up box and three princess dresses at the same time because they are just that awesome. There are no “boy things” or “girl things” to 3-year-olds; there are only the things that they like, and everyone else can back off. Three-year-olds are pretty much the epitome of an IDGAF attitude.
Three-year-olds might cry easily, and they’re known for their theatrics, but they also laugh easily, love easily, and forgive easily. They get a bad rap for being unreasonable, but they are self-aware, in touch with their emotions, and open to the complexities of being a feeling person in this chaotic world. Things aren’t black and white to them, but ten-thousand shades of gray, fuchsia, indigo, and gold. It’s a good way to be.
Sure, 3-year-olds are challenging, but all kids are challenging in one way or another. And even with all their ups and downs, threenagers are a delicious bundle of hope, optimism, and the full range of human emotion.
Every day is a live-out-loud kind of day to the 3-year-old. And maybe that’s what makes threenagers so damn awesome.
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