beware the threenager

I HAVE CALLED THIS MEETING OF PARENTS OF THREENAGERS BECAUSE WE ALL NEEDED A REASON TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE HOUSE TONIGHT.

Hi! Welcome! Please take off your shoes.

The benzodiazepine bar is in the kitchen -There's a bottle of Klonopin open, but I also have Valium, Amy brought Xanax, and Rachel's on her way with the Ativan.

And the pizzas are on the sideboard - there's a whole pizza for everybody so don't be a little bitch and stop at 4 slices.

We all know why we're here. Now let's try to fill that bottomless hole inside that aches all day long, okay?


___

On the night before Buster turned three, he turned his rosy, plump little baby face up to me and cooed, "Hewwo beautiful girl. I wuv you. Sweet dreams!"

I smiled down at him. "Sweet dreams to you, my angel." For he was an angel. And he always would be.

Or so I thought.

The next morning, when I heard rustling behind his door, I went in and sang out, "Happy Birthday, my darling boy!"

He pulled his face from the pillow and turned to look at me.

WHAT THE--

The soft, pink, cupid's bow lips with which he kissed me good-night only hours before had been devoured by a snarling pig-mouth monster, capable only of emitting the range of noises you might experience when putting gravel into various bladed kitchen appliances, or playing an accordion while dying of TB.

GRRRRRRR (coffee grinder)

UUUUUNGH (blender)

AAAAAUGH (disposal)

And his eyes? The night before, they were rich brown pools of warm comfort, twin chocolate baths inviting you to come in and surround yourself with liquid unconditional love. At 2, he had puppy eyes. But on the morning he turned 3, they had chilled, sharpened, and hardened, and they glistened like the eyes of a chocolate lab gone rabid. The eyes of a man-killer.

At 2 years, 364 days, he was a snuggler. Trademark catch phrase? "I want kisses!"

At 3 years, he became a sulker. Trademark catch phrase? "Ugh, nobody CARES, Mom."

is that watermelon?



whatever


What the fuck?

2-year-old Buster stroked the downy cheek of a newborn baby with the same perfect, gentle smile that I imagine illuminates the face of Jesus Christ himself every time a puppy falls asleep and begins to snore.

3-year-old Buster slapped a baby at his own birthday party. SLAPPED. A. BABY. ON. THE. HEAD.

And then, as the infant's mother inspected the curvature of her baby daughter's head for dents, Buster stomped away with slumped shoulders, leaving a trail of "UUUUUNGH" in his wake, and successfully creating, for all of the guests, the story they will tell about our son should he ever be convicted of puppy milling or first-degree Internet mansplaining (because, seriously, that will be a crime someday. I have a dream.)

What the FUCK?

A kindly Asian grandma waved to him at the supermarket. He bared his teeth and wrinkled his nose in the international sign of "I AM AN ORC," and the woman clutched her own hands and shrunk away. I crouched down and said, "Dude! What's going on? She was just saying hi,"and he hissed in a hoarse demon voice I'd never heard before, "She was ssssstupid."

I considered getting him a custom-printed straitjacket in safety yellow that says:

IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO SMILE AT ME,
DON'T.

IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO WAVE AT ME,
STOP.

I HAVE BLOND CURLS BUT
I HATE YOU AND EVERYONE.

Or possibly one of these:

i mean
i wouldn't cinch it up or anything

Actual conversation today:

Me: (singing softly in the car)
(car honks)
Buster: When you sing, cars start honking.

My 3-year-old has reached shade level: Toddler Rihanna.



And there's only so long you can attribute the savagery of this side-eye to dropping a nap or not enough crackers.  (But girl, more crackers can't hurt.) You can't deny it. You have a threenager.

At a certain point, three things become terribly, mercilessly clear in your mind:

1. There is for sure a 14-year-old dorkwad sneaking into your child's room at night and whispering asshole teenager things to him.

THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION.

Who else could have taught Buster how to say "You're the worst," and "This dinner sucks," and "Shut up, stupid," and "Ack, lame," and of course his trademark catch phrase, "Nobody CARES, Mom."

What, did those words just emerge from his subconscious? Is spontaneous teenage assholery a normal developmental leap, like the ability to hop on one foot and roll his eyes when I speak?

no
no they did not
KYLE
you fuckin shit stain

nice face btw
where's you get it
the butt store


2. This is not "an opportunity."

You know, like "throwing food" or "making a choking noise on purpose when he's eating nuts and then smiling at you when your heart stops." This one can't be empathized or boundaried.

This is not a "teachable moment," where you can explain how words hurt people's feelings.

This is not a "cue the piano" moment. Uncle Jesse can't do SHIT for you. And Uncle Joey can fuck right off too, him AND his beaver.

beaver
woodchuck
all i see is a stupid face
also that puppet

i'm sorry dave coulier
i'm not mad at you
i'm just
i'm so tired

Threenagers need to be guided, of course, but they don't allow you to GUIDE them.

They need help, but they ask for help by screaming "NO DO IT MYSELF" when help is offered, then melting into a rage-puddle on the floor when they cannot, in fact, do it themselves.

Your work is necessary, but it will not be satisfying. Because threenagers need you to just stand there in silent prayer like a statue of Gandhi while they are the human equivalent of everything that can happen with a fingernail. (Nails on a chalkboard. Nails bent backward. Nails slammed in car doors. Nails with bamboo needles shoved underneath them. NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS WITH NAILS.)

This is not an opportunity.

This is a stress test.

And sooner or later, everybody breaks.

3. You are a terrible mother. 

"You are a terrible mother," is the parenting equivalent of the ending of Planet of the Apes - it might be a dystopian hellscape, but fuck me sideways if it doesn't make HELLA GOOD SENSE.

You might see it right there with your own eyes and think, "No... no... that could never happen..." and yet there it is. THERE. IT. IS.

Shit, that explanation ties up EVERY SINGLE LOOSE END in this, your life, if your life was the worst movie you have ever seen. (Honestly, where was the editing? How many times do we need to see the main character eat cake while she stares vacantly at a reality show she doesn't really care about?)

Of course, no matter how true your terribleness feels, as irrefutable as a statue half-buried in the sand, you know that's just some made-up shit, right?

Your kid's the captain of a speedboat stuck at full throttle careening toward the reef through a titanic shitstorm. And you're just the lighthouse. There's only so much you can do, friend. He's got to zig, zag, splash and sputter a little for a year or two. That's not a reflection on your parenting, just a fact of biology.

To paraphrase Louis CK, this is a hurricane. Tape up the windows and wait for that shit to pass.

In the meantime, do your work, say your prayers, have some Xanax and chase it with a pizza.

You're among friends.




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