What I WAS Going to Write About: The Enigma of the Three Year Old

doctor pediatrician
“There has to be something wrong, right?” (photo modified from Flickr under CC by 2.0)

Last week I began formulating an idea for a blog post, born out of the frustration that comes with being the mother of a three-and-a-half year old. I have often said that the age of three should be declared a medical affliction. After all, there has been many a mother who has gone to the pediatrician with complete certainty that there will be a diagnosis of an ear infection, a sinus infection, an ANY infection to account for the increasingly whiny behavior of her child, only to have the pediatrician tell her he is completely healthy…he’s just a three year old. True story. And if three is a medical affliction, then three-and-a-half is a chronic disease.

That WAS what I was going to write about in my post.

I WAS going to pepper the post with a slew of examples proving my hypothesis that the age of three-and-a-half is a chronic disease, examples from right under my own roof. Like last Saturday when Michael pouted that he didn’t want his dad to take him to the playground because he would rather sit in a gym with me and watch his sister’s basketball practice (yes, it is nice that he loves me so, but only a three-and-a-half year old could make going to the playground a bad thing). Or Monday when Michael noticed that I sprinkled just the tiniest dash of flaxseed in his mac ‘n’ cheese and would not eat it because it apparently smelled and tasted “ridiculous.” Or pretty much any time Grace has something worthy of being on video: every recording of her performances, recitals, or games has the sound of Michael whining in the background. And in the case of last year’s Christmas dance recital, he is actually physically IN the background (listen for the cue around the 2:43 mark where I whisper “MICHAEL!” in horrified embarrassment at what I know is about to happen yet have no power to stop).

I WAS going to post about all those things, until a series of good behaviors and heart-melting actions made me feel like a frigid mommy dearest for even thinking to disparage my sweet little boy. Like the fact that on Sunday we were in a church with no cry room for literally almost three straight hours (mass followed by a baptism) and he was a complete and total champ about it. Or the fact that on Tuesday, for pretty much the first time all school year, he walked right over and sat on the rug after hanging up his coat, instead of latching onto my leg and making the goodbye process a battle of wills. Or the fact that on any given day, at any given time, I can ask him for a snuggle and he happily obliges, usually throwing in a goofy little smile as he squashes my cheeks together with his little hands before planting a sticky kiss on my face.

So that is what I AM going to write this post about instead. About a little boy who pretends to be Santa and wraps up things around the house to give his sister. About a little boy who plays house with his four Batman figurines, designating a Dad Batman, a Mom Batman, a Brother Batman, and a Sister Batman who all throw a party in the Batcave for the “Terrible” Hulk so he will turn into the “Happy” Hulk. About a little boy who has me read Llama Llama Misses Mama over and over again because it helps him remember that his own mama might go away sometimes, but she also always comes back. About a little boy who, every day as soon as we drop Grace off at school, says “I miss sis.” About a little boy who calls the kitchen the “chicken,” thereby making it hysterical every time he scolds our dog by yelling, “Scout, get out of the chicken!” About a little boy who sounds like Forrest Gump when he says “ice cream,” and who makes us giddy by humoring us with the movie line we taught him to say for full effect: “Lieutenant Da-an…iiiiice cream!” About a little boy who still has the captivating sing-song voice of innocence, making me sometimes hang on even his jibberish ramblings just to listen to the way he says the words.

Yes, there is definitely a lot to complain about with a three-and-a-half year old. But fortunately, there really is so much more to love. And that is the best medicine for any chronic disease.

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