Is your three-year-old morphing into someone almost unrecognisable? Has the sweetness been replaced with sass? The affection with attitude? You may have a threenager on your hands. Can’t be sure? Look out for these tell-tale traits that suggest the transformation has begun.*
1. EXPLORING NEW RELATIONSHIPS
You are no longer the centre of her universe. She has found a kindred spirit with the same propensity for mischief as her own. This ‘best friend’ features in all conversations across all topics. The threenager covets every toy and item of clothing her best friend possesses. It’s a volatile relationship but her devotion to this carbon copy of herself knows no bounds.
2. THE CONFIDENCE TO TRY NEW THINGS
She has developed a make-up obsession. You’ll find her rummaging through your toiletries with the ruthless determination of a white-walker. Lip-gloss and blusher will go missing. She will comment on your appearance. ‘I think you need lipstick, mom.’ She will then offer you the stubby end of your new Mac, which is smeared in equal measure on the bottom half of hers and Singing Elsa’s faces.
3. NEW-FOUND FASHION SENSE
She now self-styles and woe betide the mother not on top of the laundry. She will choose garish colours and put skirts over ill-fitting jeans. She will change her ensemble on average three times per day. Despite having more shoes than the rest of the family members put together, she’ll refuse to wear all but one pair. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.
She judges your wardrobe choices, offering suggestions for improvement. She questions the size of your tummy and draws unfortunate comparisons between you and Mr Tumble.
5. ADJUSTING TO NEW DEMANDS
Emotions are heightened and when the threenager hasn’t had sufficient sleep, the consequences can be catastrophic. She is liable to down tools and wail, often sitting or lying on the ground, regardless of the location. Efforts to cajole her into moving will be met with contempt and further screeching at unprecedented decibel levels.
She no longer responds to discipline, gentle or otherwise. Water off a duck’s back.
7. EXPANDING MODES OF EXPRESSION
Doors will slam. A lot. She will shout. She will stomp. She will mope. She lives in a world riddled with injustice and she is the principal victim. Nothing is fair.
Repeatedly asking her to stop doing something will make her do it even more, and with a look of disdain that says ‘make me’. She will stop when she is ready. Everything is on the threenager’s terms, including bedtime and meal choices. She will threaten hunger strike. She isn’t bluffing.
9. ENHANCED NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
She has already mastered the derisive eye-roll and she’s not afraid to use it to show you just how much of an annoyance you are. It’s customary for a threenager to reserve the behaviour detailed in numbers 7, 8 and 9 for when you are in the company of your in-laws, your boss or your friend who has perfect children.
10. PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
She is the process of perfecting a lingering glare that will carry her through adolescence. She will nail it before the year is out and it will genuinely scare you.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental.
I have no explanation for the gender bias in this post, other than the fact that I’ve chosen to forget this stage of the buck’s development.
Suffice it to say that we love all three-year-olds, especially our own. This is just one the many rites of passage we have to grin and bear. And sure aren’t they lovely underneath it all really?
First published and reproduced with permission at shinnersandthebrood.com