This morning, I got my 6-year-old daughter off to school and my husband off to work, set my 3-year-old son up with breakfast and his current favorite movie, Curious George, instructed him where to find me if he needed anything in the next few minutes, then headed upstairs to take a speed shower and make a few beds. Less than 15 minutes later, I was headed downstairs to check on him when I heard some muted whimpering, which I assumed was from the television. Upon further inspection, I realized it was actually from my son, who had opened the back and garage doors, made a lap around the house (it was 40 degrees and raining), and was standing at our front door in wet socks, pissed that I wasn't responding quickly enough to his knocking.
Luckily we live in a quiet suburban neighborhood, so my reaction was more "wow, you look cold" than "holy sh*t, you could have been hit by a car or kidnapped." In fact, I wasn't really surprised at all because he's a 3-year-old boy, and 3-year-old boys are the most annoying humans on the planet.
- They do what they want, when they want. Feel like running around the school parking lot during a busy pick-up time? Go for it. Want to throw that Play-Doh directly at your mom's face? Why not? Think a corn dog sounds good? Why not pull a chair over to the microwave and pretend you know how to use it? A 3-year-old boy is fearless, inventive, and determined.
- They have zero regard for societal norms or good manners. Over the past few months, my son tried to take both his shirt and pants off at a nice restaurant, then ran out of that restaurant's front door straight into a busy street when we told him he had to stay clothed, then got mad that we weren't rewarding his behavior by taking him over to the ice cream shop down the block. This is not normal behavior, people . . . unless you're 3, then yeah, it totally makes sense.
- They're freaking mean. Don't give a 3-year-old what he wants and expect retribution. Kicking, screaming, biting, and name-calling is totally acceptable in their world, so prepare yourself, and for God's sake, learn to pick your battles.
- They have 2-year-old tantrums on steroids. Your 2-year-old throws a tantrum and you throw that kid over your shoulder and move out. A 3-year-old boy, however, is bigger, stronger, and way harder to divert, so expect those tantrums to be longer, more dramatic, and way harder on you.
- They are constantly testing limits. Their brains are developed enough to know that they have some power over their environment and over you, and they're always trying to figure out exactly how much they can get away with. How far down the street can they roam without you chasing them? How many pieces of candy can they shove in their mouths before you say "uncle"? It's all a game to a 3-year-old.
- They kind of get normal reasoning, but they still don't give a sh*t about it. I can tell my son that he can't put his car window down because it's 37 degrees and raining, and he gets that it's cold and wet outside, but f*ck it, he still wants that window down.
- They put themselves in dangerous situations constantly, and trying to remove them only makes it worse. Here's a regular dilemma I face with my 3-year-old son, which is crazily similar to the one I used to face with my now 11-year-old dog when he was a puppy: he runs into a busy parking lot or out our front door toward the street, and I know that if I chase him, he'll only run farther, be more distracted, and therefore, be in more danger. If I don't chase him, he usually stops himself and eventually comes back, so if you see me apparently ignoring my child's reckless behavior, please know I'm doing it for his own good.
- They make terrible decisions and want you to, too. Yesterday, my son had a meltdown because I threw his pee-filled overnight diaper away, which he wanted back on, and he was digging through the trash to find it. Because he was majorly freaking out, I found myself considering helping him, then I realized that one of us had to act not like a disgusting crazy person.
- They know they have you wrapped around their little, sticky finger. When my son really wants something he knows I don't want to give him (a second piece of candy, a puppy, a later bedtime), he puts his little hands together in a begging position, squeezes his cute little eyes, and starts chanting: "Pweas, mommy, pweas. I'll be good, I promise I'll be so good." I mean, I know he's lying, but who can say no to that? Except to the puppy, because I already have one of those . . . in 3-year-old boy form.