Age Three.

August 8, 2011 at 11:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

First of all, I need you to go wish my friend D congratulations – she had her daughter yesterday.

Yay for new babies!


My kid is an asshole right now.

There, I said it.

He’s inflexible. Rigid. If something doesn’t abide by HIS set of rules, god help us all. He’s angry, screamy. He hits. He yells.

Actually, he yells ALL THE TIME right now.

On the way to school today, he pointed out a dump truck. And then yelled, Mommy, DON’T SAY “Cool.”

I didn’t say anything – a safe bet, because he told me I couldn’t say Cool.

Except no. He KEPT yelling at me.

And when I asked why he was yelling at me?

He told me he wasn’t yelling.

I was warned about the Hell of Age Three. My friend D had a particularly bad bout of it. My friend Heather warned me it would test my sanity.

I find myself at the edge of my patience ALL THE TIME.

No seriously. I walk that razor sharp line of patience every minute he’s awake.

I love him, I love him, I love him, I chant inside when he’s raging and screaming and hitting me and the tears are streaming down his face and there’s nothing I can do except let him figure out how to calm down.

It’s times like this where I really wonder if I’m a good parent.

When I am 45 minutes late to a meet up with another blogger for a playdate because I have to go home, since O is freaking the fuck out that Daddy isn’t going to the museum with us. Even though I told him two days ago that it was going to be he and I and yesterday and even this morning when we woke up. And I have to go into the house and send J into the car to calm him down because I’m PISSED.

Because I’m trying to do something NICE, goddamn it, and can’t he just DEAL with things? Just take a deep breath and CALM THE FUCK DOWN.

It’s times where I can’t handle asking a question another way to get him to do something, where I just want to scream and run away.

And it’s those times where I think, deep down, that it’s a good thing that my pregnancy ended last November, because there’s no fucking way I’d be able to handle his rage and a newborn at the same time.

Because I barely have enough patience to deal with him on my own, much less with another little person depending on me too.

I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid.

I just hope we BOTH survive Age Three.



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  1. Thank you for this post today. Because that’s pretty much how our weekend went, times two. (And sadly, minus the ability to get up and walk away easily!) I frequently wonder how we’re all going to survive a newborn in this mess. But it’s always good to know – this is normal. All kids are like this. We are not just horrible parents. Now we just need someone to come tell us that 4 is the magic age of sanity?

  2. Aaarrhhhh – that was my world! We had a touch of the “fucking fours” as my sister called it but mostly, things have settled down. I think 5 is going to feel like a dream compared to this…. or at least I hope so.
    And FWIW, you ARE a good mom. You just have a typical 3 yr old.

    • LOL! I love the term fucking fours!! I find that four is MUCH better than three overall, though when we DO have incidents now at 4, they are much more intense than at three. But, they are much less frequent, so that’s a big plus!

  3. First, you WILL survive.

    Second, you need additional tools in your parenting toolbox. Believe me. I know. I HIGHLY recommend reading Playful Parenting by Cohen and I Brake for Meltdowns is another good one. What he is doing and how he is being is typical terrible three behavior and the best thing you can do for yourself and him is to find different ways to react. In parenting a strong-willed child I have had to learn many things that don’t come naturally to me when what I wanted to do was hit him upside the head for his umpteenth act of defiance or meanness.

    And, yes, in our house, with our son, four is FANTASTIC! We may and I say may have one battle a week now but even when we do, he immediately takes himself to his room, calms himself down, and comes out with an apology, a hug, and a new attitude. Actually, attitude is something we talk about a lot. And he has finally made the connection that a positive attitude renders a positive response from others and a negative one doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still want what he wants the way that he wants it but he is MUCH more easier to discuss things with and come to an agreeable instead of combative solution. There is so much love and laughter and fun and enjoyment in being a parent of a child at this age.

    You WILL get there and will be SO grateful when you do.

  4. Oh, I can so relate. My son turned 3 just a couple of weeks ago but started doing this type of stuff 2 months ago and we’ve had a couple of really frustrating, stressful weekends recently where I had to put myself in timeout to cope. I remember a year ago joking about entering the terrible twos and every single person I know with older kids just gave me a knowing look and said, haha, the twos are a cakewalk. Wait until THREE! Hang in there…

  5. When my daughter turned into an asshole at 3.5 years old, I was convinced it was permanent and couldn’t believe my little friend was gone forever. Luckily it was just a phase (a phase she repeated again at 4.5–yay!).

    I really thought she was going to be a jerk forever and was so relieved when it ended. So just remember that it’s temporary and he will go back to being a sweetheart again…at least for awhile.

  6. Don’t feel bad about the playdate! We were fine, really.
    And no, you’re not a bad mom at all. I think It Is What It Is has a point, though – I know in many situations (crisis situations at work, too, not just parenting) I do best when I feel like I’m working off of specific instructions. Every parenting book I read, there’s something I don’t agree with, but then there’s something I take from it. Then instead of trying to pull ideas out of my butt, I’m choosing from a list. So reading some books might be a help – or at least make you feel calmer.

  7. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this too. I thought my kid was the only nutcase who told her parents What To Say. (What is up with that, anyway?) I love her, but sometimes I tell her we both need a time out (and it’s true.) I believe we are all going to survive, but there are going to be a LOT of deep breaths between now and next March 🙂

  8. I’ve heard about how bad threes can be. But, I’ve also heard it will pass…eventually. Be sure to chant, I’m not a bad parent, I’m not a bad parent, just as many times as you chant “I love him, I love him, I love him.” (And just the fact that you chant that is proof you are NOT a bad parent.)

  9. It’s terrible–my 3 year old is terrible. And we have tried almost every recommended system out there for long periods of time…and she is still an arsehole alot of the time. The only thing that we’ve found has worked for her in the least is the “Ticket System” wherein you print out 5 tickets, we call them “good behavior tickets” and give them to the kid every morning. It is up to them to keep or lose the tickets. We take a ticket when she breaks one of the five simple rules we have posted (things like: no fits, must cooperate, etc.). We give her one warning (we were told that there should be no warnings, but that seems a little much). If you take a ticket and they keep acting out, then just take another and walk away until they cool off. If she loses all the tickets then she get a consequence, which for us is spending the rest of the day in her room with an early bedtime. If she keeps the tickets for two days in a row then she earns a special treat (like a trip for ice cream or some crappy little toy). So far it is working better than anything else we’ve tried and she gets pretty excited about holding them and pretty sad about losing one. We even have “stay in bed all night” as a rule and she’s done that twice in a row, which is some kind of miracle in our house. She’s yet to earn a special treat but I haven’t yelled at her for 4 days…which is a record for me. I just take a ticket instead.

    Good luck whatever you do! This age is horrible…we can’t wait for 4!!!

  10. I definitely agree with finding solutions to try. That said, our boys are still only two and we are OK most of the time. I’ll see how I’m feeling a year from now.

  11. I love you serenity LOL you are so refreshing! whoever said that the 2s are terrible never had a 3 year old

  12. Wow, that sounds really hard. I’m starting to dread age three. Ugh. I think my daughter will be just like. That she is already very strong willed at just 14 months. I hope we make it through the treacherous threes!

    Good luck, and remember you are a good mom, even if you occasionally need to step back. I have to step back and my daughter is only 14 months!

  13. I could have written this post … and we haven’t quite hit 3 yet. I just keep telling myself “get through one more day …”

  14. Oh yes, three is a very difficult age. Everything is a total production and oh — the drama! The whining! It makes me want to scream. Instead, my girls scream, which makes me want to scream even more. I keep thinking this parenting gig has to get easier (and it has in some ways) but how old do they have to be before Mom starts to feel sane? 🙂

  15. Don’t worry, he’s still O under that 3 year old tantrum horror. He’ll show his sweet and loving side just enough to keep you from completely falling off the edge.

    In my experience (so far), 4 has been MUCH better.

  16. I would rather have five two-year-olds than ONE three-year-old. All of my kids were assholes when they were three. The mouths, the attitudes, the rages….they were all enough to make this momma wonder why she spent YEARS and tens of thousands of dollars on IF treatments and adoption. Age 4 couldn’t come fast enough.
    They are all semi-adults now and have become human. It’s lovely.
    Take a breath and know it will pass……eventually.

  17. I mutter “Calm the Fuck Down” at least once a day lately (not sure if it is to her or to me).

    (good news, she only corrects me when I innocently say “damn it”–cuz she knows that is a bad word)

    I find myself appeasing her more than I want to–just to get things done I need to do.

    But, as others say–it is only a phase—oh please its gotta be!

  18. Three. Yes. Three. What a delight. Just FYI, I have been on parenting boards this evening instead of blogging to try and find extra tools for a specific behaviour issue we had today. Fun! Just how I like to spend my precious computer time. Not posting, not catching up with blogfriends, but researching 3yo nastiness.

    Anyway. I am getting some good book recommendations here. I have also been recommended “1, 2, 3, Magic”. Next time I have five spare minutes to read a book… oh hey! I could do that during time outs! Knock them over in no time!

    See? There is a bright side.

    But in reality, I go with The Wonder Weeks philosophy. The horribleness comes before the leap. I can see that he is experimenting on everyone around him at the moment, and I know that this is an age of great social development. It just so happens he’s developing via a method no competent ethics board would ever approve of… but since my lecture on the ethics of experimental research has gone somewhat over his head there’s not much I can do about that except give results I approve of so he gets his hypotheses conclusively tested in the fastest possible time. Then hopefully he will have enough to chew on and be satisfied with for a while, so we can breathe and rest.


  19. I don’t know what advice I can give you except every child goes through this stage in some degree or another. That means every parent does, too. Have you talked this over with your therapist to see if she can give you some tips on surviving The Threes?

  20. Oh dear, we are just entering the 2’s and it’s not much fun so I am quite afraid of the 3’s but now I know what I have ahead of me. I often wish I could hand him over and let some else deal with him, but it’s different when you are doing it solo. I hope O’s phase passes quickly for you. x

  21. “Calm the fack down”- I think you just explained how I feel so often. You are not alone in the 3s, my dear. But now I am fearing the fucking fours. Geesh.

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