The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

#3 is Three

on September 30, 2015

A few days ago #3 turned Three. Though the day before that she would have you believe she was five turning six. As far as she is concerned, #3 has never been two. All through her Twos you could ask her ‘How old are you #3?’ and she would answer you back, ‘3’, ‘4’ or ‘5’. Sometimes even ‘6’.

I can totally understand why she would think that. I think small people suit being two for just a few months and then they ought to move onto the next year. That year between two and three is one of such immense change in their lives that being two just doesn’t seem to do enough justice to their achievements. Or change in temperament. I think it’s more the change in temperament that makes me say this. Ah, she was still so compliant at the turn of two. You could strap her in her car seat with no bother, put her to bed in her cot and walk out of the room safe in the knowledge she’d be asleep in a few minutes and there were no insistent demands that require a will of steel and ear plugs to deflect.

But then somehow the button that triggers a small person’s internal navigation system with destination INDEPENDENCE was hit. And that was the end of that. #3 found her voice and uses it frequently. She discovered volume control and cranked it up high. She learnt quickly from those two old timers #1 and 2 and now she’s like a mini hybrid version of them both when it comes to stubbornness and stamping her ground. And I guess that is the key point. Instead of figuring it out slowly for herself, she’s been given the Cliff Notes version of ‘How to bypass two’ just by absorbing what’s going on all around her. And that is what makes me wonder where did her Two year go because for a long, long time she has been just as vocal, demanding and independent but not quite so capable as #1 and 2.

It is quite true that your parenting outlook becomes more relaxed with each passing child. And whilst I would never describe myself as having thrown away the manual, it is noticeable that she has been granted more leeway than #1 and 2. This extends to what she can do, eat, play with and how much television she has had in comparison to # 1 and 2 by same age comparison figure. #2 had to patiently wait until she herself turned three before she was allowed her first ever pair of Big Girl dress up shoes. You can guess that #3 has been clomping around in them so much to have worn out the heel.

But what I think what really made the difference was her confidence that made you (and her) think she was beyond two. I love how being the #3, she gets to do everything with the security of #1 and 2 around her leading the way. The good and the bad I must say. And how much love there is around her. With older siblings mostly looking out for you. Being the #3 means you already have quite a lot of people who love and protect you right from the get go.

#3 suits being three. And so far she also agrees she’s three rather than four, five or six. Thank goodness she does because I am the one who laments the speed of these fast flowing months the most (and also Husband too). By now, I know how fleeting these years will be as I echo the sentiments of many parents before me. You never believe it when you have a tiny bundle of baby that you don’t quite know what to do with and someone helpfully tells you ‘Enjoy them whilst they’re little because they won’t stay little for long’ and you’re thinking but I just want to them to feed themselves and let me sleep!

Every stage never last longs. Hang on, did I really just say that? Even the current three siblings having an altercation at least four times a day stage? But I’m getting side tracked here. Every stage really never lasts long and I can feel that tug upon my heart strings thinking about my littlest young one growing up. She’s already getting so heavy that it’s not with one smooth movement I can lift her up. And when she sits on my knee at the table or for a story I need to contort in a way that doesn’t agree with my back to see past her. I have to be patience as she tells me she can do it herself and answer the myriad of questions that start and end with ‘Why?’

But she is still my littlest young one in the way she loves to be near you and hold your hand and sit right by your side. How she loves nothing more than to raid my bag daily and go through my lipsticks at an alarming rate. Casually sauntering out of the bedroom with lipstick smeared across her face and acting like nothing was amiss. How she loves Lellephant and can’t travel far without it. How she’s going to be a Princess when she’s grown up and thinks nothing of wearing fancy dress out for a stroll to the shops. How she loves all things animal and has made me overcome my own fear of approaching new dogs. How she likes to suddenly pretend she’s a cat called Toffee and slinks around miaowing and wanting you to stroke her curls. And those curls! It’s still very odd to see that she has inherited curls. She still hasn’t had her hair cut yet but I think it’s time because when asked what would she like to do for her Birthday treat, she answered with wanting to get her hair cut.

It takes an extra 20 minutes at least to get her to bed now that she’s no longer in a cot. She just barges in on #1 and 2 whilst we’re trying to read them their last story even after spending a good chunk of time getting her all nicely settled in. But I don’t really mind because inevitably without fail she’ll be in the middle of our bed for half the night. I know this is not best practice as advised in all the Generic Parenting Guides. It is perhaps not a great reflection on our parenting ability to admit that we have never been able to keep #1 and 2 in their beds at the same age either. I know what the ‘correct’ parenting technique is to address this and for a short while we tried but I figured it just wasn’t worth the upset when it was better that everyone got some sleep.

Perhaps we just weren’t strong willed enough. Perhaps. But I know this stage will also pass. We are no longer a family of five who could survive in a two bed flat because who needs the extra bedrooms when we all happen to end up in the one room every night anyways. I admit to wondering just before #3 was born whether #1 and 2 would ever sleep the whole night in their own bed ever again. But just as suddenly you find that they do. So now when #3 silently makes an appearance and claims the land in the middle of the bed, I really don’t mind. I like waking up and seeing her there and having her snuggle up to you first thing in the morning to start off your day on a warm and fuzzy note.

#3 is still only three. I guess that’s still very little. Of course it is. I know it is. But there’s something about your littlest young one. When you know you will never see this stage again that makes you want it to drift by very slowly so you can savour the good bits all the more for that bit longer. Collect all the cuddles and kisses and holding of hands. The squishing of cheeks and the feel of their little selves right up close and their demands of your attention and answering of their questions. Make these moments last the longest and their tantrums the shortest please.

Happy Birthday #3. With so much love and laughter.

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