Life with a Threenager 

My three-year-old daughter is a delight: she’s smart, funny and deeply empathetic. She loves letters and numbers and everything related to Frozen; she’s an astoundingly good friend and has an eerily good penchant for wordplay, both of which makes me deeply happy. 

She’s also, as I said, three. So I’ve been told that there’s another word for what she is. 

She’s a threenager. A three-year-old who behaves like a teenager. 

There are plenty of lists to determine if you’re living with a threenager. These lists include everything from constant meltdowns to bad sleep decisions to a misplaced sense of their own independence. 

Here are a few more: 

Their drinking is getting out of control.

They’re demanding juice right this minute, even though they’re holding a full cup of milk. How do you set boundaries for a rage-filled liquid-fiend like your child? You can’t control them: your best bet is just to dilute the apple juice with water and pray. 

Their body is going through changes.

“Am I taller than a grown-up now?” your child might ask at dinner, assuming the evening’s meal has given them the final push they needed to tower over you. “No,” you will probably say, “it will be a long time until you’re as big as a grown-up.” But watch your child standing on her tippy-toes against her height chart, and you might realize … you’re wrong? Somehow? 

Having relationships you don’t understand.

To you, a boring adult, having a deep, serious, committed relationship with a deflated balloon they found on the sidewalk last week might not make sense. But to your threenager, remember: this is true love. 

Feeling self-conscious.

“DON’T LOOK AT ME!” you might hear your child scream at any time, for whatever reason. Except be careful not to not look too much, or you risk also hearing, “WHY AREN’T YOU LOOKING AT ME?” 

As with every stage, remember that this one is temporary. Before you know it, your three-year-old will no longer be a threenager, and will soon be entering through adulthood, and then thriddle age, and finally, threetirement. 

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