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What Is A Threenager? And How Do You Deal With One?

One minute your child is going hammer and tongs at the Terrible Twos. The next, they’re a Threenager. Our resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, tells you what to expect.

What’s a Threenager?

A Threenager is a surprise. Remember the three little words kept you going through the Terrible Twos – It will pass. That’s what you said when your toddler’s head nearly spun off because they had the wrong type of Custard Creams in Aldi. That’s what you repeated when she cried so hard in Nando’s that she set off the alarm. It will pass. Your little girl will come through this and come out the other side as a loving angel. This should last until about the age of nine at which time all bets are off. I’ll take that, says you, I could do with seven angel years. And then, soon after her third birthday, your promised angel wakes up one morning and greets the day with “I’m bored.” Yikes. Welcome to Threenager.

The Negotiation

Biddable. That’s the word people like to use about the post-toddler brigade. Apparently there is no point in trying to negotiate with a toddler. Your best bet is to keep firing rice cakes at them until they hit the age of three. At which point they will be biddable. At least that’s what you are told by people who have been through it. These people are not wrong. It is possible to negotiate with a Threenager. The problem is that the three year old is much better at it than you are. It’s like they did some kind of business degree over the internet and can get almost anything they want through the art of negotiation. So you end up boasting that you only gave three chocolate fingers to your Threenager. “Three!” says your partner, wondering where it all went wrong. “Ya, but he asked me for six of them and a helicopter,” you reply, realising how stupid that sounds when you say the words out loud.

The Iron Baby

There are only two things guaranteed to calm down a two year old ¬— one episode of Peppa Pig, followed by another episode of Peppa Pig. She gets ten minutes to come back down from The Crazy Place. You get to google ‘exorcists in your local area’ on your phone. It’s a timeout for everyone. The problem with all that Peppa is your Threenager now speaks with a posh English accent. She uses this accent to boss you around all day, because that’s what Threenagers do for a living. Someone bossing your around in a posh English accent. That sounds familiar. And then it dawns on you. You’re sharing a house with the new Margaret Thatcher. Crikey.

Lazy Town

You’ll miss Peppa. Particularly if you are a Dad. Never mind that Daddy Pig seems to have all the intelligence of a cheap vacuum cleaner. (It hopefully means your kids will under-estimate you as they grow up. That’s got to be a good thing. You’ll take any advantage going.) At least Peppa Pig was written so that parents could have a laugh as well. (Particularly at Pedro Pony. We love his work.) Peppa means you can enjoy quality time with your child and watch TV. What a result. Until your Threenager grows out of it and wants to watch Lazy Town. You won’t want to watch Lazy Town with your child. Unless you want to spend half an hour every day despairing for the future of mankind. Thing aren’t going to improve. The next step for your Threenager is to show an interest in those zany high-school Disney comedies where all the actors are in their early twenties. There’s only one solution to that. Another telly.

Do you remember?

Here is the golden rule of Threenagers. They are never wrong about anything. That isn’t something they think about themselves. It is an actual fact. Worse again, it is an actual fact that makes you feel like you are losing your mind. Which of course you are. 12 hours parenting every day for the last two years means everything is lost, all the time. Your brain is so over-loaded that you’re afraid to think about dinner in case you forget how to drive. Your Threenager, on the other hand, forgets nothing. Which brings us to the second golden rule of Threenagers – never promise anything you can’t deliver in the hope that they will forget about it when the time comes. Not unless you want to be the first person sued by a three year old for breach of contract. Don’t worry, there’s an upside. Your hawk-like Threenager never misses a thing. So ask him where you left your car keys. Because he knows. And, let’s face it, you don’t.

Pop Music

One minute she’s singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. The next, it’s All About that Bass. There is nothing in between. In fairness, you taught her to sing All About that Bass because you knew your friends would get a great laugh when she sings the line “we know that shit ain’t real.” (Oh look, she curses just like her mother.) But it’s still a bit off-putting when someone who is three year’s old asks you to change the channel on the radio because a song is boring.

Particularly when that song is Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off. What, she’s outgrown that already? Yes. It’s like she skipped from being aged three to aged seven overnight. That’s Threenagers for you.

About the Author

Pat Fitzpatrick lives in Cork city with his wife and two small kids. He gave up a decent job in I.T. in 2008 to head for the lucrative world of writing. So don't hire him as a life coach, investment advisor or anything to do with your career. His Sunday Independent newspaper columns have been entertaining Irish people through some tough times. Pat is a regular on the on the RTE Today show with Maura Derrane and Daithí O’Sé and pops up frequently on radio shows such as the Right Hook. All of this is a bit too much like hard work, so he has started writing novels which will hopefully fund an early retirement to a hammock in the back garden. His first novel, Keep Away from those Ferraris, is available online and in shops outlined here http://www.patfitzpatrick.ie/novels/. Pat’s kids are both under two, so if you don’t mind, he is now going for a quick lie down.

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