You’ve heard of the terrible twos, but in my house it was the preschool years that nearly drove me to drink.
See, at 2, most kids aren’t yet capable of causing real trouble; they’re still trying to master walking and talking. Hang out with a kid who is 3 or 4, however, and it’s totally different. They become drama queens who will freak out if a carrot isn’t cut just right. They’ll have mood swings worthy of a hysterical movie star. And they’ll tell you they hate you just about as often as they tell you how stupid you are.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize the real problem with preschoolers is they act just like teenagers. Here’s how:
1. They’re way too dramatic! Teens freak out if they aren’t invited to a party and if they can’t get the same shoes as their bestie. Preschoolers freak out over food not being cut right and not being able to wear the same shoes as their bestie. See where I’m going with this? They both freak out all the time, and sometimes over the same things.
2. They speak in one-word sentences. If you’re lucky, your teen might grunt when you ask how school was. Preschoolers are no different. Ask your little how soccer was and he’ll say, “I dunno,” if he answers at all.
3. They’re always late. While your preschooler will make you late for drop off because he asked for one more minute 15 minutes ago, your teen isn’t much different. Except he’ll be late because you woke him up 15 minutes ago and he just now decided to grace the world with his presence. And no, he didn’t finish his homework last night.
4. They most definitely know more about everything than you do. My preschooler loves to say, “No, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” whenever I answer a question she’s asked. Teens are no different. (And yes, they’re wrong.)
5. They hang out with kids you can’t stand. If there’s a wild hair-puller in preschool, your kid will obsessively pursue a friendship with him. Teens love to do the same. Except instead of the hair-puller, teens find the kid who really was raised by wolves.
6. They act like they hate you. It will crush your spirit the first time your preschooler says, “I hate you Mommy.” By the 50th time, you get used to it. But there is no preparation for hearing a human nearly as tall as you say they hate you, especially when they say it in front of all their friends. Take solace in knowing that someday your kid will hear those awful words from their kid. Hopefully, you’ll be there that day to smugly say, “Not so nice, now is it?”
7. Their best friend is everything. Trying to tear a preschooler away from her best friend to, say, sleep or eat, is worse than trying to pry a mother bear from her cubs. And it’s probably more dangerous. The same can be said for teens who are obsessed with their best friend. That’s why they have to talk on the phone, text, and Facetime the minute they get home from seeing each other all day at school, right?
8. They love to repeat the same question over and over again. Spending time with an inquisitive preschooler can be torture. That’s because preschoolers love to ask questions you couldn’t possibly answer, over and over again. And while preschoolers want to know why the sky is blue or why a stranger is walking across the street, teens want to know why they have to come to dinner, why they have to do homework, and why they have to go to sleep before midnight. And yes, both sets of questions will test the patience of even the calmest parent.
And while it may be frustrating to know that your preschooler is a little teenager, by the time she really is a teen you’ll be prepared. You’ll still hate to hear her say she hates you, but you’ll know she doesn’t really mean it.