To Be Three
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
The three-year-old birthday is the one that kids really start to understand what’s going on.
“It’s my birthday party!” my daughter reminded me all day long. “I’m having a birthday party today!”
She began her day at 5:00 a.m., two hours earlier than usual. But she was wide awake and ready to go. “I’m ready, Mommy! Let’s go downstairs.”
“Kermit, it’s too early to get up,” I moaned.
When she wouldn’t relent, I tossed her a package of Keebler crackers and peanut butter that I have stashed on my night stand for when I wake up hungry at 2:00 a.m. (because another human being is eating my reserves from the inside.)
She made a picnic in her room and ate her crackers contentedly while talking to her stuffed animals. And the Keebler elf. He needed to be updated on what was going on, apparently.
What I really enjoyed about this birthday was her newly found ability to engage in the actual party. At two years old, the whole day was kind of like, “What are all of these people doing here and why are they staring at me?”
At two years old, opening gifts was traumatic because we tried to get her to put aside the first gift that she opened and open a second gift.
This time, we opened a few gifts in the morning and saved the rest for the next day.
For her third birthday party, we asked people to not bring gifts, which translates into people bringing small, inexpensive gifts. And I’m totally for that. I love the $5-$10 gifts that she got. A book. A shirt. A little bead-making set. Yes! That’s plenty. She doesn’t need more toys. She needs more experiences.
We tried to show The Peanuts Movie to ten kids, ranging from ages two to seven. Ha. Ha. Within ten minutes, running after each other while holding balloons was far more fun.
It also didn’t help that they were distracted by the sight of my husband creating a huge slip and slide in the backyard. With the help of our neighbor, he bought a 20 X 100 piece of thick plastic, a bunch of Palmolive, and hooked up a sprinkle. When the kids saw it, you would have thought that they had seen a giant Mickey Mouse in the backyard, personally inviting them to a world of fun.
Of course, we still needed to eat dinner.
When we tried to lure them back inside to eat dinner, there were tantrums everywhere, no matter how many time we told them we were coming back outside.
But eat, they did. And quickly.
And then the fun began.
This was a bit of a watershed day for me. Until recently, being a mother to my daughter was a lot of work, work, work, and a little bit of fun mixed in.
But really, it mostly work.
Now she’s walking, talking, using the bathroom (almost on her own!), and playing on her own. It’s a welcome relief to see her enjoying time with her friends without me by her side.
Yes, there’s a little sadness in watching her drift away, but I have to admit, it’s mostly relief. I don’t know if that relief comes from my introverted side or my independent side or from some other aspect of my personality, but the relief is real.
In many ways, we have a long way to go and I’m certainly not wishing the years away.
Because now I’m seeing how much fun being a parent can really be.