Three is scary.

4/24/2012 04:08:00 AM
Um. Is this not perfect? Note: This book is still in print. Sadly, with an updated cover.

Oddly enough, Lila's an early bloomer.

(She definitely doesn't get this from my side of the family.) Now, let me clarify: by "early bloomer" I mean that she usually meets the age-specific behavioral milestones a wee bit earlier than we'd prefer.

What does this mean for us right now?

Lila's 2 years, 10 months and 3 days old but she's already acting like the 3-year-old that I've secretly been terrified of.

I've heard for years from the Moms Who I Watch, the ones who've traversed this toy-strewn road before me, that two is a cinch and that three, oh, three is tough.

"Pa-shaw" I remember thinking. "Come on. How is a three-year-old going to be tough? Hello, isn't it the 'terrible twos'?"

Oh, Kylee.

I actually remember where I was standing when it really resonated with me that three might be difficult. I was on the phone with my best friend and she was talking about her then-three-year-old. She couldn't keep her daughter in her bed during naptime. In my ignorant new-parent thinking, I figured it was clearly a parenting fail, right? Because my newborn was sleeping soundly all swaddled in her crib I must have known how to parent a three-year-old. (Tee hee.)

"Kylee, it's just that at three, they're so... they're so... defiant."

Fast forward to today: LIGHTENING is crashing.

YES! DEFIANT is our word of the day, of the week... of the month. Someone, anyone, tell me that "defiant" isn't going to be our word of the year.

Let's get this straight, I didn't birth no* shrinking daisy. Lila's strong-willed; or as some parenting experts like to call her, "spirited." She's intense. And decisive. And opinionated. And introspective. And wildly giggly and imaginative and cute.

But sadly for us, her more prominent characteristics these days involve whatever is the opposite of conflict resolution. Perhaps, we could call it "conflict instigation."

Variations of this exchange happen about 358 times per day:

Scene: After bath time I'm wrangling a wet and running one-year-old who doesn't like towels and a semi-whiny 3-year-old whose only desire is to pump all of the lotion out of the bottle even though I've told her 500 times that she cannot do that because it wastes lotion.

Me: "Lila, come here please. I need to brush your hair."

Lila: silence. No moving in my general direction. Reaching toward the lotion. AGAIN.

Me: "Lila, please come here NOW." (I am more stern. Not yelling.)

Lila: No. Still touching the lotion and trying to pump out MORE.

Me: "LILA ROSS. Come here immediately. We will brush your hair and then read books." (I just yelled a bit. Hey! I'm not perfect. It ain't easy trying to put a diaper on a recently-lotioned, wiggly 15-month-old who hates laying on her back and wrangle a non-compliant big sister.)

Lila: NO (she says this semi-calmly, usually in a whining tone (OHHH! THE WHINING!) then she starts walking toward me. Lotion in hand.)

Then here it comes, wait for it:

Me: "Lila come here NOW and PUT DOWN THE LOTION."

Lila: "You no be mean a Lila! You no listen a me! YOU LISTEN a Lila, Mommy!"

Shall I translate for you? That was the Spanglish version of, "Don't be mean to Lila. You don't listen to me. LISTEN to me, Mommy")


If we tell Lila she can't put her fork in the straw of her cup at dinner - she says this.
If we tell her that she cannot dump water over Vivienne's head in the tub - she says this.
If we tell her that she needs to put shoes on so that she doesn't slip on the wet tile outside - she says this.
If we tell her that she cannot have a peep until after she eats - she says this.
If we tell her to please be patient and wait a moment, that we'll do whatever she needs after we change Vivienne's diaper - she says this.

Our life is FULL of No's and "YOU NO LISTEN A ME's."


Nope, we don't live in Cabo. We live in Defiance, Mexico.

Wish us luck.


*Horrendous grammar is intentional



  1. I feel your pain. Our son just turned 3, but his new found love of being captain defiant started a few months ago. His latest one is "I'll do it all by myself". You know like cutting food with a sharp knife, jumping in the bath from the edge of the tub, to thinking he should drive the car. Fun times.

  2. I had heard that 3 was way harder then 2. Audra was already known to be strong willed and defiant at 2. Then she turned 3. We have her almost every weekend. When her Dad says why I say because she is 3.

    Baby girl has trouble with I want/I don't want. Me "Audra do you want to take your tights off?" Audra "no". I go to put the tights back on, and I get the whine and the I don't want them on.

    Potty training is another issue, but we only have her on weekends so while I can be consistent when we have her, it's really more up to her mom.

    3 is also fun, there are moments when I look at this little person and I'm so amazed by her.

  3. Oh, I feel like I could have written that! My oldest is just 2 1/2 and we've already in this phase. It's not fun. My favorite is when she does something that she's not supposed to and ends up in timeout and she tells me, "I'm not sitting in timeout. I don't want to. I.Will.Not.Sit.On.This.Chair." The kicker? She sits on the chair until the timer goes off...she just likes to VOICE her opinion. The "Terrible Two's" haven't been so bad to us, but I'm deathly afraid of 3.

  4. Welcome to the wonderful world of 3. ;)

    We finally tried choices/options with S and it works (sometimes). Hey, sometimes is better than nothing, right? So, we say "S would you like to come here so I can brush your hair or would you like to ____ {something unappealing}" She most always will listen and if not, we sadly have to follow through with the unappealing thing. They are just so stubborn at 3 and exerting their independence even more than at 2.

    Ugh...this just reminded me that I have both joys right now...a 3 and a 2 year old. Heaven help me.

    Hang in there! Ms. Lila will come around and in between the Nos, she'll amaze you and become such a little 'person' to you, you'll love it even more! ;)

  5. I loved this post. "Conflict instigation?!?!" Yes. We are dealing with the exact same thing. From the other comments, it sounds like we all are. Haven't "they" figured out how to fix this yet??? Whoever they are... I wish they'd get busy cause three is going to be here soon and I don't know how much more I can take.

    Can someone please tell me why the fascination with the lotion? It makes me so angry so fast when I see the lotion being wasted. And I guess I just answered my question: lotion + waste = reaction from mama. Ahh it gets me every time.

    Lily is two and a half and her favorite response of late is to aggressively walk toward me with her finger raised and say "I tell you one more time mama - one more time!" Then she spins on her heel and walks away with her arms folded across her chest with a very significant "Hmpf." This is clearly her translation of my frequent "How many times do I have to tell you... (insert ignored direction here)" Now, I don't raise my finger, so that is clearly her way of adding drama. Nice touch really.

    Her other favorite response is to sternly say "Lily Kay Smith LISTEN!" She walks around and repeats it while she is very adamantly doing either the opposite of what I've asked or not doing anything. It's her way of not only being defiant, but also mocking me which is really, really fun.

    Ahhh... good times.

    We will survive, right?? :)

  6. THIS. This is my life. Every day. Dubs is SO defiant, whiny (ohmygodthewhining), and downright stubborn as hell. I do yell, and I hate myself immediately but TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME he does the things! that make me insane, and holy crap does he ever know what he's doing.

    hold me.

  7. Keira is the same way!! She'll be 3 in July. She also is constantly asking me "why"! She asks "Why?" a million times a day. :-)

  8. When Athena hit 3 Louis and I were convinced we had failed and she needed to see a behavioral specialist immediately. I called my mom in a panic on a particularly bad day and told her that Athena and I were going to be on Mauray when they talk about out-of-control teenagers and she was going to be screaming at me "Whatevah! Whatevah! I'll do what I want!!"

    I think that perfectly sums up what 3 was like :/

  9. Yeah, this seems pretty standard around here too. (This is what we get for having smart kids, earlier defiance.) I take solace in the fact that it is NORMAL and we will SURVIVE, ps GO TO BED NOW I NEED YOU TO BE AWAY FROM ME.

  10. Kristy (quiet oasis)10:12 AM, April 24, 2012

    Yes, for my firstborn daughter, age 2 was lovely, age 3 sounds just like you are describing. Then at age 4, delightful again. There IS hope.... but oh, the difficult stages suck! (I feel like for each kid the age could be different, as I found with child #2)

    In case it helps....
    Years ago, I read "1,2,3 Magic". You don't really need to read it because the gist is using counting to get the goal accomplished. So this works for my kids, age 2 and up (still works for the 7 year old). I count backwards from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. (my modified version of "1,2,3 Magic") By #1, you must have done what I said or there will be a consequence. I'm sure I used consequences in the beginning when I made it to 1 and they didn't listen. But honestly, in the past 4 years, I've never made it to 1 without them doing what I said. They learn quick.

    I also make everything funny or a game. This might not work for everyone, but if I say the most ridiculous things or make it a race, I usually avoid conflict. (ie race... "If I get to the bathroom first, I get to use your toothbrush." or "whoever makes it to the bathroom last has to clean the toilets".... my kids know I won't use their toothbrush or make them clean the toilet. But they find it so funny that they MUST participate. :)

    Everyone's parenting styles are different and kids are different. But I thought I'd mention what I do in case it helps in some way. My other fav books in case they help as well...
    Easy to love, difficult to discipline.
    How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk.
    Say Goodbye to Whining.

    Best wishes... I have about 50 other kid issues that I need help with! So you are not alone!

  11. Oh, friend. I am so with you on this one! Luckily Miss J is growing out of this stage, but BOTH of my kids were so defiant and hard to deal with at age 3. Hang in there, breathe and give options. I do the options thing a bit different than Sassytimes. Sometimes we give two good options. In other words, in the brushing hair instance.... would you like me to brush your hair with your pink brush or your purple brush? Granted, sometimes the options are... you can either put the lotion down or sit in time out. Depends on the day. Let's be real, depends on the hour. :-)


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