Okay, where are all the parents out there with a three year old? (Insert hand raises here from all the toddler parents frantically googling: What is going on with my toddler?)

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are either the one lucky parent out there, or you haven’t hit this phase yet. Trust me, it’s coming. And when you think it’s hit, give it time. It gets worse.

When our oldest son hit his third year we thought he was an anomaly. He refused to potty train, and when he did, he wouldn’t poop on the toilet. He refused to nap. And oh boy did he need naps! He threw fits and told us NO way too often. He thought the world was ending any time we tried something new that was meant to be fun. (Like taking him to Hawaii. He was sure it was meant to torture him, and was definitely not for fun.)

We thought there was absolutely no way our daughter could ever put us through anything worse than he had. That’s what we thought. We were wrong.

Let me tell you about this sassy girl that will be three at the end of January.

She definitely tells us off every chance she gets. We hear a lot of NO with simultaneous finger wagging. It doesn’t end with the NO‘s though. Definitely not. There’s a lot of, “Don’t do that Momma!”, “Shhh! Be quiet!”, and “No! That’s not nice!” When she tells us NO she means it, and she’s sure she’s the only person with absolute authority.

She’s beyond independent, with an attitude. She won’t take no for an answer. And if we attempt to help her, she unwinds rapidly. I’m not talking about a typical toddler fit. I’m talking full on tantrum. A blood curdling scream. And drool. Yes, drool. She drools with intention, and reaches into her mouth to pull more out, so she can get it everywhere. Where this came from, I don’t know, but we’d sure like to return it immediately!

Directions are just suggestions she will always choose to ignore. In fact, she will quite proudly do the opposite. But if someone else is not following directions, she will be sure to tell them so.

Apparently diapers and pull ups aren’t meant for her. Though neither is using the toilet. So really, I suppose we are raising a wild child that can potty in underwear, then sit on the toilet just for fun. Oh, and did I mention toilets are also the place to rinse toothbrushes?

The battles between her and her older brother are those of epic proportions. Granted, our 5 year old contributes. But her desire to be seen and heard, without using actual words to communicate, can be heard down the street. She yells and shrieks at him until she gets her way, either directly or by way of adult interference. And when she doesn’t get her way . . . Oh boy!

She hits. She bites. She pulls. She pushes. And she isn’t willing to accept that these actions are not okay. Not ever.

And food. Well, okay, for the most part her actions toward meal time are equivalent to all children between the age of 2 and 8. However, she also likes to use yogurt, ranch, and any other thick liquid-type food as lotion. She likes to packrat her food then spit it out in the most inconvenient and disgusting ways. She loves to stick her food and hands into her water glass, then spill it.

This girl is the biggest challenge we have yet to experience. And it makes each day a trial and tribulation. We are exhausted and beating our heads against the wall wondering what we could do differently. Trying to figure out where we went wrong.

But that’s not all there is to this lovely threenager. Not it at all.

This girl has the kindest and most caring heart. She runs to her family members and friends and gives them big hugs and kisses. She loves to cuddle with me and her dad, because she loves us. If her older brother is in trouble, or is sad, she’s right there giving him a hug and asking him what is wrong. At bedtime she needs her high fives and fist bumps, and she needs to say “I love you” and hear it back, because bedtime isn’t complete without it.

She LOVES her princess dresses, and insists on wearing one almost every day. But she’s also not afraid to get dirty, because life is too fun to be restricted.

She wants to help all the time. Laundry needs to be put away? She’s ready to help! Ask her to get something for you? She’ll be there with a “Sure Momma!” Need help carrying groceries in? She can’t wait!

She memorizes almost every song she hears, and will sing them all at the top of her lungs. And dancing like nobody is watching is her specialty. Because why just sing, when you can dance with passion too?

She’s an extraordinary little girl! And though it may be tough beyond belief, we wouldn’t miss it for the world. This is truly one of those times when we hear the words of those who have raised their children; those who say, “you’ll miss this”. They are right, we will. The joy she gives us in those amazing moments are worth all the hardships she puts us through.

For those parents out there going through the same thing, know you are not alone. And on the days when you feel like you’ve hit your breaking point, remember those smiles, and all those sweet actions. Remember that we all come with good and bad. And without all they have to offer, this would not be the rollercoaster we call parenting.

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