Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Three Things No One Told Me

In honor of E turning three today, I am writing about three things no one ever told me about having a three year old. I've only "officially" had a three year old for about two hours, so I'm taking some liberties here, but I couldn't resist the symmetry of this exercise. I'm envisioning a post someday entitled "21 Things No One Told Me..."

1. Chocolate milk is the only acceptable milk to serve at a three year old's birthday party, if one must be so uncouth as to serve milk at all. (Juice, of course, being the most highly valued beverage among the pre-school set.) I learned this lesson during E's party on Saturday when I set out a cooler full of milk boxes - white, chocolate, and vanilla - and juice boxes. After the party, I discovered the chocolate milk boxes completely gone and only two of the juice boxes remaining, but the white and vanilla boxes completely untouched. I have made a note of this, and will offer only chocolate milk at any future gatherings where more than five children are present, as past experiences have shown me that children will drink white milk in groups smaller than five.

2. Three year olds are indiscriminate when it comes to eating food that does not belong to them, and one must go to parks, playgrounds, etc. prepared not just to feed one's own child, but all of the other children as well. I learned this lesson when E and I showed up for a picnic lunch playdate with a single peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a few mini carrots. Enough for E's lunch, but not enough to share. I watched in growing dismay as the well-prepared mothers set out an admirable spread including, but not limited to, hummus, pita, cheese, apple slices, as well as the obligatory peanut butter and jelly. The other mothers carried their meals in soft sided coolers, whereas E and I had packed his lunch in a miniature lunch box that once held a puzzle. Everyone very graciously shared their food with E, while I could only offer one mini carrot per child. I have since acquired my own soft-sided cooler, and fill it with at least quadruple the quantity of food I think E will consume.

3. In my sleeping three year old, I can see at once the baby he was and the man he will become. This was not case a year ago, when I could see the last of the baby begin to melt away as the little boy emerged. The man, however, remained an enigma. Now, the shape of E's face has changed, even in sleep, and I can see more clearly who he will become. But the baby is not so far in the distance that he doesn't emerge in sleep, and while I expect I will always be able to see him, the chubby cheeks and flawless skin will soon disappear, further obscuring his view from anyone except the woman who gave him birth.

Happy Birthday E...thanks for the adventures.


  1. Happy birthday to both of you!
    I didn't know that about chocolate milk, so thanks for the heads up. But at a third birthday party earlier this spring, my then-almost two-year-old was the one appropriating other kids' snacks and juice boxes. I got the stink eye from some parents who I think should read this post...

  2. I love this idea! And yours is a great list. I love seeing the baby in my almost 5 year old, but rarely catch a glimpse.

  3. Happy Birthday, and what a lovely tribute to both of you on lessons and inevitable change. I adore it. My oldest turns 4 in less than a month and the biggest thing I've learned is to never take who they are for granted because they change so fast and furiously you hardly have time to enjoy it.

  4. awww... happy birthday. although if you include my son in your birthday party, please have vanilla or white milk. my son will not drink chocolate milk (there must be an anti-chocolate gene because i don't like chocolate either...)

  5. Happy Birthday E! And man, I wish I read this BEFORE I hit the playground today because I only had one measly pack of chocolate graham crackers and these kids who wouldn't give mine the time of day swarmed around me like flies as I tried to feed my hungry little one.

    Note to self: Remember Jamie's tips!

    Love the way you ended this piece too - no matter who and what they grow into, we will always, always see them.

  6. Oh, I'm tired and bleary (my own doing ... or my newborn's, rather) over here, and now I'm teary (your doing!) with your wonderful words about always seeing the baby in our little ones, no matter how big they get. So wonderfully true!