At the most recent Writers Who Wine gathering, one woman said, “Oh, I just LOVE three year olds! That’s the best age!”
Wrinkling her nose, another woman asserted, “No. It’s the worst age. Three year olds are just awful!”
Before I had kids, I would have agreed with woman one. After I’d had one and then two kids, I would have agreed with woman two. But now, on the cusp of my third child’s third birthday, when they asked my opinion, I found myself telling them, “You’re both right. It’s the best of ages and the worst of ages.”
Willing to Play Salon*
I constantly quote a blog post I loved reading back when my middle child was almost three. It says, “Three is two with intent.” And that’s true. I hereby announce that there are no terrible twos. Two is fine. Two’s basically a talking baby. She may try to throw a fit, but you just have to grab something random and say, “Look! I have a…a spoon!” and she has forgotten whatever she was being a turkey about and is now mesmerized by your enthusiastic tone. Then you can continue on your merry way with a merry companion.
Now three, three REMEMBERS. And will remember. Forever. Three may still be talking about the ways you have wronged her into the next year.
Three has an ability to scream that would rattle the nerves of a person with no ears. And three uses it. “I want MILK!” “I don’t LIKE THAT STICKER!” “Can I have some RAISINS IN MY HAND?? I WANT RAISINS!! MOMMYYYY!”
Just yesterday you were coming up to me like a sweet, Dickensian little orphan, holding out your cupped hands and asking plaintively, “Ma-ee, could I have a couple raisins in my hand?” Literally yesterday. Now you sound like I am running you over with a steamroller and I haven’t even said no yet.
So, that’s why, after I’d survived two three year olds, I felt like three was at best something to get through.
But something happened. I slowed down. I don’t know if it is because of parenting experience or just that I’m getting older and cooling off. And I started listening and trying not to get worked up by all the noise. And I learned how to help the children slow themselves down so that they can stop screaming.
And meanwhile, three is hilarious. Three says it how it is, and three also utters complete nonsense. Three is fascinated by trains, ants, roly-polies, cars, airplanes, animals, helping stir the dinner, snails, what’s on his shirt, why I look the way I do, what’s going on out the window–basically everything. I find myself thinking, Is this what you have been thinking about all of this time? He tacks “Right?” onto the end of virtually every sentence.
Noah is three today. Here are some pictures and some excerpts from some recent conversations with him that I think typify both three and Noah more specifically:
Me: What do you want for your birthday, Noah?
Leon: Hey, Noah, you came out of nowhere!
Noah: [Deadpan] I came out of the car.
Noah: If you see a pincher bug, don’t squish it. They are my friends and my natures and they go to my school. Right?
Noah: What are those, Ma-ee?
Me: These are graham crackers, but they are gluten free.
Noah: Oh, can I have some?
[Eating crackers] These are gwuten fwee, right?
[Keeps eating, mutters] I don’t know what these are.
Noah: [Spots a termite tent] Look, a jump house! There must be a lot of people in there!
Noah: Yes, today is Monday. And tomorrow…and yesterday…and Friday was another yesterday, and there was a ‘pider, and it was a huge one and it was in Selah’s room. And that is dangerous, right? And one time I flew in a helicopter but you did not go. And it was fun. That is why ‘piders are huge, right?
So, happy birthday, Noah! Let’s try and make three as cute and painless as possible, right?