Three Going On Thirteen
By Lisa Barker
Aug 12, 2007, 10:59

Three-year olds are passionate about what they want and don't want. Recently, my three-year old asked for some water. It went something like this.

I want water. I'm getting water. Off he marched to fulfill his request.

No, you don't get water by yourself.

I want water!


Don't tell me no! You don't tell me no!

You need to ask nicely.

You get water for me NOW, please.

That's not asking nicely.

Momma, I want water now! He hopped and stomped and scowled and clenched his hands into fists.

Look. You either ask nicely and politely or you get nothing.

He brightened with a big smile. Please can I have some water?

I happily and immediately got up to get him some water, praising him for asking so nicely. He followed me into the kitchen, skipping along. I handed him the cup of water.

I WANT ICE CUBES! he screamed at the top of his lungs.


Naptime is what happens when small kiddos push all of Mom's buttons and wear her patience thin. There is a difference between a child that is learning manners and needs reminders and an impudent little brat that could make the world's most formidable dictator wither in fear.

I sent his Lordship to his room. Before he even got there he was screaming epithets and howling with injustice.

Thank God for doors. Doors are what separate human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. If it weren't for doors, we'd eat our young. It's such a small price to pay for some peace and quiet.

My husband came home and asked me how my day was. I nodded wearily toward our son's bedroom door. He was sobbing and sounding pretty miserable. Weakly his voice carried through the door.

Dad? Please can I have some water?

As if mean, evil Momma had denied him this humble request and had banished him from the family forever. It must have been the longest and most forlorn ten minutes of his life.

It was heaven for me.

Dealing with a three-year old all day is like smacking your head against a wall and then being worshipped on a pedestal. You alternate between the two. You are either his worst enemy or you are the one being in the entire world he cherishes and will go out of his way to adore. You are either in or out . You are either his best friend or his biggest foe.

I don't love you anymore! is first uttered at the age of three.

Don't worry. Chances are you have something he wants. Everybody does. He'll be back in no time screaming, Mine, mine, mine!

Heaven help us all.

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ŠLisa Barker - Jelly Mom is written by Lisa Barker, mother of five and author of "Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane... Doesn't Mean You Are A Bad Parent!" and is syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit Sign up for the complimentary Jelly Mom weekly newsletter and receive a BONUS GIFT!

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