Parenting a three-year-old is hard.

Why, you ask?

I’ll tell you all the ways.

They never want your help, unless it’s something they can for sure do by themselves. Like when they want that thing that’s right next to them. But for some reason they cannot actually get it themselves and you just sat down on the other side of the room. Yeah, they want your help then.

You cannot reason with them. You think they should wear a jacket because it’s cold outside? Nope. Never going to happen. You’re either going to go outside without it and they will want to come back by the time you’ve made it to the end of the driveway or you have to try the bring-it-for-them-in-case-they-need it technique.

They will try your patience. It doesn’t matter how patient you are. There are times when it will not be quite enough. This is a stall tactic that they particularly like to use at times when you have somewhere to be or are already low on patience, like bedtime. It’s not that they move at the pace of a sloth, it’s more that they will not focus on the thing you actually want them to be doing. You ask them to go to the bathroom before bed. They will take off all their clothes. Roll around on the floor. Pick up a toy. Go into a different room (that’s not the bathroom). A million other things besides go into the bathroom.

They think they’re in charge. They would like to tell you exactly how every single thing should get done. And exactly what you are and are not allowed to do or help with.

They think you can read their mind. They will yell at you for giving them the wrong color cup. Without ever telling you what color cup they wanted in the first place. They will yell at you for turning off the light, even when they normally expect you to do it.

They can’t make up their minds. When you ask them a question they will say no. Wait a second. Then they will decide yes. It may stop there or they may change their answer a few more times. (Yes, this also tries your patience, but is still a whole category of it’s own.)

They have double standards. They can decide who is allowed in the bathroom with them. But they will not let you decide who can be in the bathroom with you.

So yes, parenting a three-year-old is hard. Thankfully they also laugh, smile, tell you they love you and sometimes they’re just plain fun. And that’s what makes it all worth it.