Listen, the title may call them 3-year-olds, but I used a far better word to describe my daughter when she was three: Threenager. The behavior of a normal 3-year-old is, to put it bluntly, shockingly similar to that of a teenager. I love my kid to pieces, but she spent every moment of her third year testing my patience and my sanity. And having lived with my teenage stepdaughter during all of this, I can attest to the accuracy of this description.
I feel like this is the age kids really start to develop a sense of themselves, so they are all about testing boundaries. This was also the age my daughter got really good at manipulating and negotiating with my husband and I. If one of us said no to television? She’d go ask the other. If we said she had to finish what was on her plate in order to have a treat? She’d ask how many bites, and try to negotiate down. "Fun" doesn’t begin to accurately describe it.
But there were so many other moments that were joyful too. I’ve never seen a kid love as hard as she did at that age; Sometimes the easiest way to turn around a bad day was just going in the backyard to run around with her. Truly, I can learn from her as much as she can learn from me. So as challenging as this age can be, here are a load of completely real things that 3-year-olds tend to teach their parents (assuming they can all survive the year together):
Rain Is Not A Good Excuse To Stay Indoors
I’m not sure if this was just my kid, or if she learned it in daycare, but she wouldn’t bat an eyelash when I told her it was raining, when I cited it as a reason we couldn’t go for a walk or go to the park. She would then say, “But we can just put on our rain boots and jackets.” I mean, OK. Good point, kid. Why am I so easily defeated?
Keep Asking "Why?"
Seriously, if you don’t like the answer, just ask again. You may find, after asking “why?” several times, that you start getting different answers. Who cares if you annoy the person you're asking, as long as it results in getting the answer you want? *mic drop*
Love Unconditionally, Even If You Don't Always Like Someone
Several times, my daughter would tell me that she didn’t like me, but that she still loved me. I think that about sums it up.
Jumping On A Bed Is Honestly So. Much. Fun.
It doesn’t get any better than this. Never forget how damn fun jumping on a bed can be.
If One Person Says "No," Keep Asking Until Someone Says "Yes."
This is my brilliant daughter in a nutshell, with one of the best life lessons ever. If she doesn’t get what she wants (for instance, watching the Barbie TV show) from me, she will ask her dad, one set of grandparents...and then the other set of grandparents, until someone says yes. And someone always does. Smart kid.
There's Always Room For Negotiation
What can it hurt to ask for three more Smarties? Or another television show? Or an extra couple of vacation days? It can hurt nothing, and you will never know unless you ask, people.
Pizza, Mac & Cheese, and Goldfish Crackers Are All Perfect Foods
There will be a time in everyone’s life when they will agree with this sentiment, and attempt to pretty much live off of these wonderful foods. Some people may find that the time is during college. Generally for me, it’s when I’m sneaking some of my threenager’s food just before serving it to her.
Going On A Swing Can Solve Just About Anything
Seriously, having the wind whip through your hair as you swing back and forth, higher and higher, can just bring home what’s really important, in life.
Coloring Is Awesome
Whether you're 3 years old or 30, coloring is a fantastic, meditative stress-buster.
There's Joy To Be Found In The Little Things
This one's pretty self-explanatory, and it can make your experience of life so much more enjoyable. No one knows it better than a 3-year-old...and no one needs to hear it more than the parents of a 3-year-old.