When my oldest son turned 3, I didn't realize there was
a term for his newfound defiance and teenage-like behavior. By the time his
younger brother turned 3 last fall, I had a word for what I was witnessing
when he started putting his hand on his hip and saying, lip curled in
skepticism, "If you say so." Like his brother before him, my youngest has
morphed from a cute toddler into the dreaded threenager.
1. Your 3-year-old can create tornadic activity in your living room with just one of his heavy sighs
It doesn't matter whether he's sighing over being told it's time to go to bed or the fact that he has eaten the last fruit snack in the package—the sigh is deep, heartfelt and speaks volumes.
2. Your precious toddler, who would wear any cute outfit you picked out, suddenly has the taste of a fashion diva on "What Not to Wear."
She will not wear jeans. She will not wear sneakers. She will only wear dresses and only if they are striped. You know she's a true threenager when she starts criticizing what you're wearing.
No matter how much education you have, no matter how old you are ... the threenager is here to tell you, you are wrong!
3. You have a hard time carrying on a conversation with your previously chatty child
He used to tell you everything, from the color of the sky to the quality of his bowel movement. Now you can barely get a grunt out of him when you ask him what he wants for his birthday. (Note: this newfound silent treatment isn't always a bad thing.)
4. You get treated to the eye roll on a daily basis
You know the eye roll, you perfected it when you were 14. But suddenly, your little girl is rolling her eyes at you so hard you swear you can hear them hitting the back of her head. If she's already mastered the eye roll, what can you look forward to in another decade?
5. You see aspects of yourself as a teenager in your preschooler
The eye rolling is just the beginning. That hand on the hip? That's you when your dad wouldn't let you borrow the car. That little voice telling his brother how much he doesn't like you because you took away his iPad? That's you telling your best friend how awful your mother was for limiting your phone privileges. Your sweet child is turning into you as a teenager! Good luck with that.
6. You are wrong about everything
No matter how much education you have, no matter how old you are, no matter what you've done previous to becoming a mother, the threenager is here to tell you, you are wrong! You do not know his favorite food, you do not know how to make his lunch, you do not know how to brush his hair. It doesn't matter if you were able to do all of those things just a few months ago—he was 2 then and didn't know better. Now he does. And now, thanks to the threenager's ability to articulate every mistake you make when he's not giving you the silent treatment, so do you.
Threenager behavior isn't 24/7. It bursts forth, like the
creature in "Alien," to remind you that the roller coaster ride known as parenting
is only just beginning. I'm convinced this early onset of teenage angst is to
prepare me for the future and make me savor the little kid years all the more.
Don't ask me how long this stage lasts, though. Despite the cutesy nickname, my 5-year-old seems to still be caught in the web of threenager behavior. I'm
hoping he grows out of it soon. Two threenagers in one house is just too much.