Can you spot the difference between the two? Neither can I

After years of parenting I have made a stunning discovery. There is very little difference between a teenager and a 3-year-old.

OK, fine. A teenager usually has bigger feet. And usually the teenager can reach the top cabinets in the kitchen. But other than that? There’s pretty much no difference between your average 3-year-old and your average teenager.

Look, I have studied both species in their native habitats for years. I’ve spent hours in the grocery store. And Chuck E. Cheese. And in the wild, no-man’s land known as Target. And I can tell you – there is very little difference between a preschooler and a high schooler.

At 3, your average preschooler is curious, yet willful and stubborn and may have a flair for the occasional zinger. For example, while in a familiar place, such as the toilet paper aisle of Target, a 3-year-old may choose to suddenly ask in a very loud voice why bananas have brown spots and quickly follow that question by asking why the lady standing next to him has brown spots on her hands too.

Your average teenager is curious, yet willful and stubborn and may have a flair for the occasional zinger. For example, while in a familiar place, such as the toilet paper aisle of Target, a teenager may tell the parent in a very loud voice that he learned in science why bananas have brown spots and that possibly the mother may want to try hiding the ones on her hands with makeup.

At 3, the average preschooler may delight in washing plastic dishes in his or her pretend sink. He may put on a frowny face when one of the dishes is dropped on the floor and the dog grabs it to use as a Frisbee. He may then abandon the washing game to chase the dog.

The average teenager will wash dishes with a frowny face. He will find delight when he drops food on the floor that the dog eats. He may then abandon washing the dishes to chase the dog around the kitchen.

The average preschooler will put away his clean clothes by dropping them on the floor because he is still too short to reach the hangers or the top drawer of his dresser. The average teenager will put away his clean clothes by dropping them on the floor. This is because he is lazy, or as he prefers to put it, he is “too busy to pretend to be neat.”

The average 3-year-old will put his toys away only when asked by the mother to do so. And even then, a certain quantity of LEGO or other potentially lethal toys may be left out on the floor because in the middle of cleaning his room, the 3-year-old suddenly realized he was missing a new episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The average teenager will put his toys away only when asked by the mother to do so. And even then, a certain quantity of RC car parts or other potentially lethal toys may be left out on the floor because in the middle of cleaning his room, the teen suddenly realized that he was missing a new episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The average preschooler may try to get away with saying bad words. He will, occasionally, whisper the word “butt nugget” and check to see if the parent is listening.

The average teenager may try to get away with saying bad words. He will, occasionally, scream a word not printable in this paper and check to see if the parent is listening.

As you can see, after years of observation, research and just plain being a parent, I have determined the obvious. There isn’t much difference between a 3-year-old and a teenager. It’s sad, but true.

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