Terrible Threes

Neither of my daughters went through the terrible twos. They were both delightful toddlers, with just the typical curiosity-driven behaviors of dialing foreign countries on my cell phone and hiding food under the bed so it could be discovered later when my mother-in-law was visiting ("What is that smell?").

So as my eldest blew out the candles on her third birthday, I thought I was the only parent in the world who had dodged the terrible twos. Clearly I had an exceptional child who was just not terrible. Better yet, I was obviously a skilled parent who managed my young child's outbursts calmly and rationally.

You can stop laughing now.

By the time my youngest hit three years and 5 seconds old, I was no longer under this ridiculous delusion that I had escaped.

Because in our family, apparently it's all about the terrible THREEs. Did I say terrible? Hah. Global warming is terrible. Wildfires are terrible. I spent some time with the thesaurus and frankly, there isn't a word that even comes close to the horror that was suddenly an every day occurrence.

I'm talking the crazed monsters that took possession of my daughters' hormonal systems and in one year wreaked more havoc than a heavy metal band on tour.

All cuteness and loveableness evaporated in the blink of an eye as even a simple explanation of the laws of nature, laws that had always been no big deal, were easily enforced and well respected ("No, you are not allowed to eat crackers in bed"), suddenly were up for grabs in a Mad Max fight to the death. Death of me, that is.

"Who the heck are you?" I asked my screeching child. "There is no way you came out of my body." I found myself wandering through the house rethinking my decision even to have children. For this I gave up Shiner and ice tea for nine months? Then I decided to stay home so I could wrestle with a loud, rude, and completely irrational human being? Yesh. I could have kept my other job for that and at least gotten dental insurance in the deal.

I'd stare at this screaming, insane banshee at my feet, who was demanding that I make her baby shoes fit her again or bring back the toy she shattered in last week's tantrum and longed to look her straight in the eye and say those two little words.

"Day care."

Now that our oldest is 10 I'm staring ever so closer into the nightmare that I've been warned about over and over - teenage years. I know now that the 'terrible' threes are just rehearsal for teenagers. At which point I'll have two other little words I'll be fighting to keep from saying.

"Boarding school."