“In October I will be three, and then I can eat peanut butter.”
This has been the refrain from my almost three year old for the last few months. I have been cautious about introducing nuts because of allergies in the family but the boy learned of the now legendary spread at child care and has been waiting for the day he too could have some for lunch.
We’re now just a week away from that big number and it has me reflecting on the seemingly momentous occasion. As an adult it’s easy to forget, but turning three is a big deal. It means no more toddling… a three year old is a preschooler. It’s a time when no foods are taboo (in this house we’ve been careful about not only nuts but seafood and other potential allergens), when diapers are a thing of the past and learning moves beyond just play to that all encompassing thing called school.
My son is now starting to write his letters, coloring inside the lines (some of the time) and problem solving in a way that seemed years away only a few months ago. He understands a polite word will go a long way towards getting what he wants, he knows how to read mommy’s moods and when pushing her buttons might get him what he wants, and he understands Grandma might be more likely to give in that mommy.
It’s also easy to forget how hard a it is to turn three. This is a time when naps start to disappear, though maybe a bit before they should, and when expectations get a lot higher. Big brothering is a hard job and sometimes it’s easy for an almost three year old to forget to be gentle with a baby.
I’ve been reflecting on my less than stellar parenting techniques of late and I will make my boy these promise on the cusp of his third birthday. I will try to remember three, and thirty three, are just numbers. I will make time to play every day. I will help him be the big boy he wants to be but at the same time let him be a little boy when needed. And I will try to remember, even in my dark mommy moments, that whatever number he is, be it 2 or 3, that it won’t last long. We’ll celebrate each year as it approaches and, while not every moment may be worth repeating, we will try to appreciate this time while we have it.