An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

The dreaded year

About two months after Leta turned three years old (during one of her epic, inimitable body-throwing tantrums) I remember thinking that I would rather have my vagina sewn shut than have another kid. Is that too gross? Over the line? If I stop right there and don’t mention balls or anal glands will you forgive me? No? WELL AREN’T YOU PRECIOUS.

Three-years-olds. They are awful, horrible people. I didn’t say they were the WORST people but only because I’m sure there are murderers out there who listen to Nickelback. 

You’ve never lived with a three year old? It goes something like this:

“Stop. Stop. Stop. STOP IT. STOP. STOP. No. NO. NOOOOOO. STOP. STOP. Put it down. Put it down. PUT IT DOWN. NOW. STOP. No. No. NO. NO. STOP. NOW. NOOOOWWWW. STOP IT. So help me god, put the fish back in its bowl.”

Marlo will turn three next month, and oh my. My soft, little dimpled Donette is showing signs of growing horns and webs between her toes. And it has hit suddenly, out of nowhere. One day she was full of wonder and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider in a funny voice and then BAM she’s looking me straight in the face as she takes her bowl of cereal and dumps it on the floor. She didn’t even break eye contact when she dropped the bowl and pointed at it, like, WITNESS THIS, BITCHEZ.

Last week while Leta was at her piano lesson I took Marlo to the store to pass some time. And normally, the old Marlo, the sweet two-year-old with the adorable lisp, she would have reached up and grabbed my hand as we walked through the door. She would have pointed at all the colorful packages and gasped. She would have toddled up and down the aisles causing every woman there with a ticking biological clock to strip naked and have sex with the guy stocking chicken broth.

But this Marlo, the nearing-three Marlo, she ripped her hand from my own when I lovingly reached down to hold it, hoarsely groaning, “STHOPPPP MY HAND.” That’s the phrase she uses when she wants to be left alone. When I brush her hair she screams, “STHOPPPP MY HAIR.” When I wipe her mouth she shrieks, “STHOPPPP MY FACE.” Fine, I’ll say. And then the adolescent me cannot resist licking both of my hands and rubbing them from her forehead all the way down to her neck. 

Has anyone ever debarked their three-year-old? Details, please.

This Marlo picked up cans of soup and tried to stick them in her shorts. When I took the cans away she showed her competitive streak and threw her body in an arc to the floor, almost as elegantly as her sister once did. But here’s where Leta wins: Leta didn’t care if you walked away. She tantrumed because it was her body’s way of processing conflict. Marlo? Marlo cares. She tantrums because she wants the attention. So when I walk away and remove her audience/victim, she hops up and runs after me while screaming, “WAIT! WAIT!” Excuse me? Were you saying something? Because I was seriously underwhelmed with that performance and I’m going to leave a scathing Yelp review.

And then. UGH. It was one of those parenting moments depicted in movies and sitcoms, and when it happens in real life you’re like, GROSS. Network television GETS ME.

I had Marlo in my right arm, a bag of groceries in the other. And as I was unlocking the car she wrestled her way off of my hip to the ground and took off toward the back of the car. Instinct kicked in and I dropped everything: keys, purse, groceries, dignity. I managed to lunge two steps and grab her by the arm just as a car whipped by not even two feet from her face. My heart throbbing in my throat, I picked her up, put my face probably a little too close to hers and said very sternly, “DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN.”

To which she replied in a mocking tone, “Blah blah blah.”

Oh no, you did not just blah me. Let’s cut to commercial so that we do not have to bleep my masterful violation of that one commandment saying never to take the Lord’s name in vain JESUS BALL SACK VICE GRIP ON YOUR NIPPLE CHRIST.

I bit my lower lip and tried to lower my heart rate as I opened the door and set her in the car seat. As I was buckling her in she laughed, shook her head back and forth and sang, “Dangewous! DANGEWOUS! DANGEWOUS!

That was a week ago. She is still in a time out. Don’t worry, I’ve checked on her a couple of times to keep her hydrated.

  • SueBHoney

    And then they turn into teenagers…….

  • girlplease

    Ahh yes 3 year olds.

    Mine is 3 and I’ve heard:

    “Go away”
    “No mamma, you go live with grandpa and never, ever, ever, ever come back.”
    “I am not coming to YOUR birthday party ever, ever, ever again.” (He’s big n emphasis)
    “No mamma, I will not take a nap. I’m throwing my bed away.”

    And the classic:

    “Damn it! What? War Machine says damn it. So I’m not supposed to say damn it? Why can’t I say damn it. Dominick at school says damn it.”

    Again, damn it.

  • Sully

    Oh man. I remember those days. My boys are 14 months apart. The younger never went through this, but the older one did.

    Picture this.

    I’m at Walmart and the tantrum starts at the garden center. I keep walking and he picks himself up runs to catch up and throws himself down again. The entire width of the store. I was horrified and people were staring and I just kept walking like I didn’t notice the little satan chasing me and throwing down every so many yards.

    He never did it again. PRAISE!

  • Shana in Texas

    Hang in there – four is quite lovely! The hardest part of parenting is taking a deep breath and realizing it’s just a stage in preparation of an even harder stage to come. That’s the scary fire on the horizon!

  • erinwelch

    OH MY LANDS. Forget the terrible twos.

    My darling, turned-3-in-January Lincoln has turned into a hateful, hitting, smacking, toy-throwing hellion. He now routinely acts like one of those kids I always self-righteously swore “My kids will NEVER act like that!” before I had kids. Ouch.

    I feel your pain, and sorry, but I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this!

  • jenwilson

    Three IS the worst. My second daughter, who just turned five, was exactly as you just described Marlo. She did not want to be left behind, and would stop her tantrum and yell WAIT!!!! but if she was almost killed, she DID NOT CARE. That’s your problem, MOM! I’m going to sit here and MOCK YOU. My first daughter was a relatively easy and very sweet three-year-old and did not prepare me for the treachery of her little sister.

    My son just turned one and I’m hoping that boys skip the awfulness that is three. A girl can dream, right?

    I will send calm-three-year-old thoughts your way.

  • SKarountzos

    OMG. I was trying to explain this to another mother yesterday. My son might as well have turned thirteen when he turned three, for all the back-talk we get from him. The other day, I carefully explained to him about sharing and being nice to his brother and then said, “What did mama just say.” He crossed his arms and said, “YOU SAID NOTHING!”

  • slappyintheface

    Just give it about ten more years … then you will be begging to have a three year old again … TEENAGE GIRLS ARE EEEEEEEEVIL !!!

  • HeyAves

    Funny, my general theme lately has been about what giant assholes 3 year olds are. Except my little darling won’t be 3 for a month and a half. She’s an over achiever.

    I hear from a friend whose mother is a child psychologist or counselor or something that teens and toddler are going through similar development processes, and what works for dealing with toddlers and preschoolers works for teenagers also. So the good news is we get to do this alllllllll again in another 10 years. And! We’ll have experience!

  • sweetpotatopie

    That, right there, is why I read you, Heather. You nailed it: made me laugh aloud and find comfort in the knowledge that 3 really IS as hideous as I think, and then some.

    blah blah blah. 😉

  • Janice

    I look at the photo of a sweet, dimpled child and can see the evil evolving. I think you’re gonna need to deMarlo the snakes.

  • jan001

    “Blah blah blah.” LMFAO!!! And I don’t use that acronym lightly!

    I was the driver who nearly had a heart attack after missing a running kid by 2 feet. Thank god I was going slowly (parking lot and all), and suddenly out from between two cars that were both taller than he was dashed a little 2-3YO kid, right into my headlights. I slammed on my brakes – did you know you can slam on your brakes if you’re only going about 15MPH? – and within half a second there were his parents, arms about 10 feet long reaching and clutching for him with understandable looks of terror on their faces.

    It was in that instant that I made a firm decision that summed up my plans for my own kids, if I’d ever had any, at that age, and it can be summed up in one word. “Leash”. And screw those who judge.

    More recently, my god-daughter’s 3YO daughter hss been learning socialization skills in day care. She’s getting there but not every day is a great day. Her mommy picked her up the other day, buckled her in, and as they drove away, she looked into the mirror and saw thunderclouds over her daughter’s head. Trying to lighten the mood, she chirped, “So, how was school today?” The answer: “I am SO not taking any questions right now.” /spit-take/

  • poopinginpeace

    I see the light at the end of the tunnel! My youngest is a year older than Marlo and we will be out of the this horrible year soon enough. Granted, she has not been as bad as her two older sisters were during their 3’s but still, the whining alone can make you want to leave them at the bus station. Good luck! On a different note, I hope you have a Happy Mother’s Day and I wanted to you to know I gave you little shout out on my post today. http://poopinginpeace.blogspot.com/2012/05/word-to-mothers.html

    I posted this today and not on Sunday so to stand with you in the observing the Every Mother Counts on Sunday and not doing anything. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and every other mom out there. You are an amazing woman.

  • smithie1996

    3 Year Olds: All the annoyance of two with the cuteness of two stripped away. Then multiply the annoyance by 1,000,000. Worst. Year. Ever.

  • Sonicwitch

    My 21 year old daughter still laughs remembering when I put a leash on her at Disney World when she was three. She understand why I did it because she knows what a bitch she can be at times.

  • Petri Dish

    Whoever came up with the phrase “The Terrible Two’s” is a dick and knew nothing about “The Asshole Three’s”.

    My simple, quiet, obedient, creative two year old turned into a little shit the day he turned three and I was just baffled. At three they have better communication skills, they form opinions and they realize that they can either make or break your day with a full on tantrum. I love my kids but I am NOT looking forward to my 2 yr old turing three next year.

  • Rhonda Raasch

    I am raising my granddaughter (who will be 3 in July) and you just described her perfectly! I am 52 years old and I have a lot more patience with her than I did with her mother. However….Some days I wonder if I can do this. just when I start wondering she says or does something that melts my heart. This too shall pass Heather. Hang in there.

  • Natalie Green

    I call it the fucking fours (possibly don’t read this bit: The Phase can technically spread out longer than a year).

  • QueenOfGreen

    You think you’ve got it bad? What about the poor guy stocking chicken broth?!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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