My three year old is a jerk. Truly. I know. Some people will feel I should have said, “You know I love my child but…” prior to stating what a jackwad he can be. But the truth is… he can be a really huge jerk. And of course I love him. Adore him. So we can all relax. But that doesn’t take away the fact that HE IS A JERK.






I had to fill out an intake for his preschool and when I got to the part about “how does your child respond when frustrated?” I wrote, “screaming, hitting, grunting, and other colorful reactions.” My husband was looking it over and he said, “Guess they got you on the wrong day.”

Oh, three. 

We’ve been here before. Because our eight-year-old, well, he had to take a spin on the three train. And the six-year-old, he did a year on three, as well. The Oldest. He was easy peasy. I think he had a two week stint of being a threenager when he wasn’t even yet three and his new little brother came into his world and turned his existence into mush. I remember thinking, “ugh. this is the worst. And we did this to him! We wrecked his world with this new human.” But he got over it pretty quickly and resumed being our rule following, kind and loving Oldest. And then the Middlest. Good God Almighty. The Middlest grabbed onto three at about 18 months and held on until he was five and took us all on the ride of his life with him. We had battle after battle. Scream after scream. Tantrum after tantrum. And we lived to tell the tale.

But this third kid. Geezy louisey. He can just be a total wreck-it-Ralph. A brute. A force. Another sourpatch kid. And one who shall not be taken too lightly.

He asked the other day if he could have a snack, for the 234th time that day, and I said, for the 226th time, no. And he unleashed his wrath on me. It began with him stating quite emphatically, “Dang it, mom.” and then exploded from there. He pounded his fists on the floor. He screamed shrill sounds from his apparently-healthy lungs. His fair face was as red as a strawberry. And the amount of times he pleaded, but pweeeaase! pweeeease!! pweease!! I mean, at least he has the gumption to use manners when he’s in jerk mode. 

He doesn’t yet want to pee on the potty but also does not want his diaper changed. So diaper changes include a lot of finesse and patience as he wriggles about and tries to smash n grab while I try to wipe. 

He is sort of… combative. He resorts often to using his hands to show his emotions which results in his Middle brother bearing the brunt of his brute force. And also lends to many thrown objects that often land on another human or a breakable item. It’s neat.

And the word no and the phrase no. you do it. Over and over. On replay all day. 

Oy with the threes. 

I know we can make it through. I know because we’ve gotten through it before. But man alive, can someone please just create a place to send our threenagers for some rehab action? Like an Obedience School for three-year-olds? 

But really. We’ve done Love and Logic. We’ve tried being authoritative, and lighthouses, and offering “positive reinforcement.” We’ve offered charts. We’ve done tough love. We’ve given all love. We’ve walked away. And we’ve done timeouts. But for now, it feels as if we just have to keep on keepin’ on. Throwing crap at the wall and seeing what sticks for that day and that situation. And pray that as time goes by, his body will grow big enough to hold all the big feelings he’s having and learning how to live with.

But let me tell you this… if you have muttered the phrase, “my three-year-old is a jerk…” today… or last week… or every hour on the hour, you are not alone. I am here with you. And we will all survive our three-year-olds and love them all the while. Even when they are atrocious and unreasonable. Even when they are flailing in a store because they can’t have the paw patrol baseball cap they so patiently asked for. Even when they are being carried out of the bathtub, slippery wet, under our arm, because they threw one too many toys at their brother’s face. We will get through this. And so will they.

Solidarity in the fight against threenagerdom. And just keep reminding yourself over and over that these qualities: persistence. resistance. and independence… each of these and more will serve them so well when someday, they learn to use them for good, instead of evil. And won’t that day be grand?

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at