Terrible Threes Strike Again

Posted on | November 18, 2012 | 20 Comments

From the time he started at his current daycare, I’ve always about heard what a sweet kid J is.  He was (luckily) never a biter, never a hitter or pusher.  He didn’t start trouble, listened well, and gave hugs out like candy at Halloween.

But lately, the reports have changed.

Suddenly, I find myself picking up a child who is firmly ensconced in time out.  I find myself hearing things like “J had a tough morning” or “J needs to work on his listening ears” or the awful “J pretends to shoot people and then pushes them down on the playground.”  More than once in the past three weeks I’ve wondered what I’m doing wrong these days to create such a little monster in the daycare world.   I know that my child is spirited.  I know that he has his mother’s temper and some of his father’s lack of impulse control.  I know that he has my tender heart and his father’s sense of global to personal injustice.  As a result, he is growing into his psyche and finding that he doesn’t much like the world outside of his control.  He’s stretching his wings and testing his limits.  And I know that I should be gently firm but also encouraging because this is what kids are supposed to do.

But you know what? I don’t want to encourage any of that crap.

I know that I SHOULD encourage it, but guys? I don’t have this kind of patience.  I was born severely lacking in the calm, cool, and collected vibe.  So what happens is something along these lines:

Me: (very calmly) Please do not dump all your toys out on the floor.

J: But I want to. (dumps all toys onto the floor and begins kicking them around)

Me: (slightly less calm) J. Pick those toys up, right. now.

J:  But I’m still playing with them. (kick, kick, crunch, crunch)

Me: (taking a deep breath and launching into “serious” voice) J. What did I just say? Pick. Those. Up.

J: (Gleefully ignoring)


J: (wide-eyed) Don’t count! Don’t count! I’m picking them up!

There are so many things about this stage that I hate, but the counting down from three seems to be the worst of the bunch. I swear that J is scared of the number 1, even though I can’t think of a time that I’ve actually reached it without him doing what he’s been told.  But honestly, why does it take crap like that to get them to do things?? Why is it that saying the number 2 in a seriously angry voice does what fifteen minutes of rational speaking can’t accomplish?

I’m worn out on three.  I’m seriously worn the eff out on this stage.

And don’t you DARE tell me that I’ll look back on these days and smile because dammit, I KNOW that.  But right now I just don’t care. Right now, I just want a flask of vodka and some of those shooting range ear mufflers so I can just nod and smile and sip booze until he reaches four… blissfully unaware of his backtalk and attitude.  Really, is that so much to ask?


20 Responses to “Terrible Threes Strike Again”

  1. Danielle
    November 19th, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    I have twin girls and could NOT agree more with you on this post!!!! The 3’s have been WAY more trying that the 2’s ever were. I’m hoping this phase passes quickly and that 4 is a tad easier!!! I feel like all I do lately is have to get on to them, and honestly I’ve been raising my voice/yelling a lot lately, and that stresses me to the max! NOTHING seems to work, except, most of the time, counting to 3! Whew, I think a flask and ear muffs sounds pretty good right now!!

  2. Danielle
    November 19th, 2012 @ 9:37 am

    Oh, and we will be coming to the Macon/Cochran area for Thanksgiving. Maybe we might just run into each other! 🙂

  3. Law Momma
    November 19th, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    Awww! I’d love that! J will be with his dad for Thanksgiving, otherwise I’d say let’s get the hellions together and run them ragged!

  4. ryenerman
    November 19th, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I have a nearly 10 YO and a 3 YO and I swear never to tell anyone they will someday look fondly back at 3. I never did with oldest and with my second I’m seriously worn out with 3. Three is a temper testing, patience testing, end of the rope feeling age. All I can say is that it does get better and this is what I’ve been holding onto with my second for the last several weeks. Three is a bitch.

  5. Law Momma
    November 19th, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    Three IS a bitch. And worse, it’s turning ME into a bitch.

  6. KLZ
    November 19th, 2012 @ 11:28 am


    Less crap for you to clean up anyway.

  7. Law Momma
    November 19th, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    I felt like the 12 Days of Horror on Sunday… one broken nativity, two broken toys, three ripped off jingle bells… and a mom in a drunken stupor……

  8. Jess
    November 19th, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

    Oh yeah, counting backward makes more sense…

    Yeah mine is all about the not listening. And the “you don’t love me” or “you just don’t like me” when I get after her. It’s so fun!

  9. Law Momma
    November 20th, 2012 @ 10:25 am

    Ha! A teacher friend clued me in to the backwards… she said it would prevent the day when he would start saying “Four… five… six…”

  10. KeAnne
    November 19th, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Yes. Sigh. I have a decent amount of patience, but 3 is pushing every trigger I have, especially the outright defiance, willful deafness and grating whining. Daniel has managed to turn “I can’t” into about 15 syllables and the most irritating tone I’ve ever heard. And of course, I feel like a shrew all the time.

  11. Law Momma
    November 20th, 2012 @ 10:25 am

    Oh Gah. It’s so frustrating. So So So frustrating. I hate feeling like I’m always the bad guy.

  12. kristinayellow
    November 19th, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    I’ve been dealing with that and have found that first, I take away toys. I tell her something, if she doesn’t listen, I repeat what I say. If she still doesn’t listen, I warn her it will be mine if she doesn’t listen. Third time, it’s mine and goes away. She can cry and fuss but that’s it–it’s hard and it sucks but being consistent has helped some. It may also help you to play “listening” games with him…things like “mother may I…” or “red light green light” or sing a song that requires him to listen and then do an action…it’ll help him feel good when he does listen (since he’ll win the game or associate happy times with listening” plus he’ll gain practice with obeying you, even when it’s hard. Sigh. It’s definitely not an easy thing to deal with. Sometimes motherhood stinks.

  13. Law Momma
    November 20th, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    I love the idea of listening games… maybe making listening fun will work!!

  14. Delia
    November 19th, 2012 @ 10:57 pm

    I love the counting. It works as long as C knows when I get to three I will actually do something. What I don’t like is how often I have to start counting these days! I feel your pain.

  15. Law Momma
    November 20th, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Exactly. I shouldn’t have to count about EVERYTHING.

  16. TarynB
    November 20th, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    screw that. I count for everything. breakfast, getting dressed for school, picking up toys, feeding the dog, getting undressed, getting in the tub, getting out of the tub… it’s endlesssssssss!

  17. L. Michaels
    November 20th, 2012 @ 3:28 am

    All the nonsense about reasoning with one’s child is a rather recent phenomenon some parent made up to help her feel better about herself. Kids like things in black and white. My experience with both boys and men is that you give it to them in very short sentences, clearly, and they respond really well. Why mess with a system that’s been in use for thousands of years??? Counting is uber efficient and a looming deadline does wonders for action. Ha!

    Do it your way and forget the experts. Wait, isn’t that what you were gonna anyway?

    Oh, and just know you will have a while of being afraid to pick up your son because they’ll be waiting. Do they have a side door?

  18. Law Momma
    November 20th, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Ha! I could just see me sneaking in and swiping my kid and yelling “IT’S OKAY, I”M HIS MOM!”

  19. TarynB
    November 20th, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    ugh. I hear you. Mine is 4 1/2. I want to know when they FINALLY start listening the first or second time I say something? I count down from 5. And he KNOWS I’m serious that if I get to #1, he will lose tv or nook privileges (or something worse.) I threatened the loss of Christmas presents the other day. And then felt terrible. And drank a glass of wine. He has the same problem in school, with the “listening ears.” arghhhhhh

  20. Anandi Raman Creath
    December 6th, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Yeah, this is what it’s like at our house too. (T turned 3 on 9/18). Everything is SO DRAMATIC. Lots of tears and lots of not wanting to do *anything*. I was feeling horrible because for *everything* I’m threatening her with taking away something, or putting conditions on stuff “if you put on your pants, THEN we can go do xyz”. But it sounds like everyone is doing it. Sigh.

  • Creative Commons License
    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
  • Twitter

  • Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner


  • Grab my button for your blog!