Having a threenager -- a three-year-old who's going on 13 -- and surviving, is all about learning to read the unpredictable predictability that is your child's behaviour. Total gobbledygook, I know. In English, parenting a threenager is about anticipating when the sh*t is going to hit the fan next.
We don't always know why our kidlets are about to lose their minds (let's be real, we know it's not because they have to put their boots on now), but if we know what's coming, we can at least batten down the hatches and weather the coming storm, instead of getting drenched with nary an umbrella in sight.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the signs that sh*t is about to get real with your darling child:
1. The Lip. You know the one, people. That lower lip gets stuck out so far, you'd think rainwater could collect in there. Whatever you did (you know it's your fault), it's time to either back peddle, or brace yourself, because your child is about to take it to the next level.
2. The Floor-Sit. It's not graceful. It's not cute. It is angry and violent, that floor-sitting. You had no idea someone could hurl their butt to the ground with such voracity. It's likely you're in public, or about to leave the house, if your threenager is employing this technique. Fair warning: you may end up having to deal with #6 next.
3. The Fake Ramp-Up Whimper. This one is the worst, isn't it? They start with that quiet little putt-putt sound, at the back of their throats. It can go on for a few minutes before escalating, because they're hoping you'll react the way they want you to. And if you give them what they want, the sound completely disappears! How utterly bizarre. Yeah, right. Often followed by #7, if you haven't yet capitulated.
4. The Single Toy Toss. It could almost be construed as careless. As if it were for fun. But if you were watching carefully, the look in your threenager's eyes, that glint, tells all. There is anger in that casual toss. A veiled threat, if you will. This is a test, and if you handle it the wrong way, you will be heading to hell in a hand basket.
5. The All-Caps Response. Usually, this takes the form of a single word, like "NO" or a string of single word, all-caps sentences, like "I. WANT. THAT. TOY." Really, there's nothing you can do to de-escalate the situation, if you're not planning to acquiesce. Good luck.
6. The Jellyfish. So classic. They've either just started losing their shit, or are guaranteed to lose their shit if you try to move them by force. But you have somewhere to be (like out of the public eye, if you're in a store), so you try to pick them up. How do they turn so limp and floppy, so goddamn quickly?? It's like their muscle tone has completely disappeared in the blink of an eye. This is especially popular if you're trying to get their coats or boots on, so you can get out the door and only be 25 minutes late, instead of your typical 40 minutes.
7. The Distant Siren. A definite sign of troubling times ahead. At first, you may not even realize what this sound is, or where it's coming from, because your threenager's mouth is closed. But that whimper-whistle means something is NOT okay. Did you say no to a cookie before dinner? Was your threenager underfoot as you were prepping dinner, and you accidentally stepped on his foot? Grab some earplugs, because The Howl is coming next. I'm sorry.
So how do those sayings go? Forewarned is Forearmed...or Always Be Prepared...or The More You Know...? Anyway, you get the point. It may not change the eventuality of your threenager's meltdown, but knowing these signs will hopefully leave you better equipped to handle that next step into oblivion they're about to take.
Am I missing any signs? Does your threenager have a particularly spectacular sign you want to share? Tell all in the comments!
This post originally appeared on The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes) here.
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