You Don't Know Sass Until You Have A 5-Year-Old

by Sarah Cottrell
Originally Published: 

As parents, we get so excited when our babies take their first steps and begin to babble out confusing versions of common words. We take for granted their snuggly hugs and sloppy kisses. It becomes easy to believe that our wee ones are brilliant beyond measure and hands down the most well-behaved newly minted toddlers ever to grace the earth. They grow out of diapers and Sippy cups, and we stand back to marvel at our perfect little people.

And then they turn five.

(Holy mother of God.)

I suspect the real reason why babies and small children are so gosh-darn cute is what happens when they turn into pre-schoolers. They become mouthy little turds. No amount of gentle redirection, bribing, yelling, or begging and pleading will stop it.

In order to survive, you must brace yourself for these seven unbelievably obnoxious behaviors and hope to God that your once docile child will grow out of it.

1. Whatever

The first time kids hear this snarky word, you can see a small light brighten in the back of their eyes. Their little egos just took a giant leap out of the word “no” and landed squarely on “whatever,” which, as we all know, is the child version of “fuck you.”

2. Eye rolling

Childhood is not complete until your little wonder has mastered the quintessential eye roll. It does not matter what you say; your words will inevitably be met with this most infuriating facial gesture, which is apparently a synonym for the popular, “whatever.


3. Correcting

Nothing boils my blood faster than hearing my proud tot exclaim, “Well, actually, Mom …” after nearly anything I have said. The only redeeming quality about this verbal tic is the enormity of how wrong my child is when he tries to correct me. For example, a Megalodon was 60 feet long. Not 7,000 feet. I looked it up 900 times at your request, you little punk.

4. The Last Word

Nothing will cut your parental authority down like a smug-faced little version of you having the last word during an epic argument over what is for dinner or how long a timeout should be. As tempting as it is to scream, “OH, MY GOD! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!” you can’t because they will know they actually got the last word and therefore won.

5. Trying Out Swears

This one is fun. And by “fun,” I mean mortifying and horrific if you happen to be the parent and it was your verbose little genius that dropped a loud and crisp F-Bomb in public. How hot do you think your cheeks can burn in embarrassment when you hear that four-letter slap across the face? Let me tell you, they burn like Hades, man.

6. Oppositional Coolness

When kids begin to decide what is cool, they tend to go for the parental jugular by deciding that whatever mom and dad dislike (I’m looking at you, Sponge Bob) is now the coolest thing on earth. Realizing this trend in my own children, I now lie through my teeth about what I dislike in order to maintain their distance from the junk I refuse to buy.

7. Giving No Fucks

Pardon my frankness here, but seriously: kids don’t give a flying fuck about anything. Why do you think Sesame Street keeps running episodes about empathy and kindness? This example of sass is generally expressed through the lack of a filter, which is why kids say funny – albeit hurtful – things to anyone within earshot. Just last week my son observed – very loudly, in the middle of the grocery store checkout line – that the woman in front of us had just farted. And it stank worse than dad’s farts.

While five seems to be a rather bumpy age in terms of attitude, independence, and empathy for kids, it is also something of a testing ground for what’s to come. I hear tweens are even more fun.

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