My tiny baby is now a giant human child.
Today I looked at my tiny baby as he jumped on the spot yelling "Mum! Muuuuuuum. Mummy. Mummay. Mummmmm. Watch me. Are you watching me? Watch me. Mum. Maaaammmmmmmm" and thought how the hell did you suddenly get to be 700 years old? And why did I try so hard to make you talk?
Me (watching Archie blissfully): You used to me a tiny baby you know?
Archie: Now I'n sooo big.
Me: I know. It happened so fast.
Archie: Ha-ha, sucked in!
Before you have children everyone tells you you have to cherish every day, because it happens so fast but you're so busy keeping them alive and yourself from having a mental breakdown that you forget to cherish a lot of those hours and suddenly you nearly have a four-year-old human male who can pee standing up and says things like "Ha, I did a farty on you". Is cherishing the same as crying into your wine or having a full-blown anxiety attack at the airport? Because tick. The thing is, because I have been with this person almost every single second of his life, it really takes you by surprise when the suddenly look old to you.
Where was my warning?! I wasn't ready! I want to go back and cherish dammit!
Some signs your baby may now be a giant human include:
Their cars suddenly have emotional conversations before crashing into each other, describing their motivations
You hear the word "penis" more times than a Bachelor episode
You get told to "just relax, okay mum?"
A third opinion is offered when negotiating dinner plans
They have catch phrases. Archie's is "Sucked in the hick!" Which he came home with one day and we have no idea what it means. Probably nothing.
They know the words to the new Jack Johnson album and make requests from the back seat.
With all the advice offered today for new parents, no one really gives out advice for parents of three-year-olds. It's a relative free-for-all and Google becomes your best friend at 3am on a Tuesday as you fall into a guilt spiral of should I have ever fed him chicken nuggets? Is it too late to save his gut health? Luckily I have been blessed with an amazing Facebook mothers group but day to day it's a metaphorical minefield - and sometimes literal - if you're dealing with lego on carpet.
How do you recognise a grown up human child?
They sneak up on you - that's for sure.
One minute I was trying to coax more than "ball" and "car" outta him and the next I was explaining the difference between brought and brang
- and why one is the past tense of bring in standard English and the other is occasionally accepted colloquially and how did you learn that anyway? Whatever.
They speak like adults now. Suddenly full sentences are firing at you and it's 7am and your child is asking why his swimming teacher only has legs out of the pool. "But where do his legs go when he's in the pool?"
They talk ALL the time. Studies have shown a three-year-old can ask upwards of 300 questions a day with four-year-olds clocking up to 450! I went out on a date night last week and when I got home mum told me Archie didn't stop asking questions from 6:30pm when I left till 7:30pm when he went to bed (she obviously didn't mind, Grandmas love that stuff). That's nothing, I said. He actually hadn't stopped asking questions since 7:30am that morning when he first woke up. The issue is, with 90% of their brain forming before they're four, that's a lot of pressure on my answers! What if I don't know if I see green the same as he sees green? Or why I'm crying if I'm happy? Or why people put spoilers on their car? I do not know these answers. And don't ask me if you're real or just a character in someone else's dream because dammit I still have panic attacks about that myself and I'm 34!
They have major attitude. Apart from constantly being told to "chill dude" and "relax, mum" Archie now walks and stands with attitude. He poses, struts and plays shy. How do they even learn this?! They are tiny versions of big people walking around like they are grownups. I can't deal. He told the girls at Cotton On: Body he was "a bit shy" as he flirted with them over the counter. I'm allowing it in hopes of future underwear discounts but I'm monitoring it, that's for sure. Last month I taught him to ride his bodyboard in on a wave and as he rushed past me laughing I had visions of a suddenly 17 grown up. All the tears.
They give you driving instructions/relationship advice and happiness techniques. How are threenagers so damn intuitive? Archie will sense my mood from the other room and come in to tell me to "just have a cup of tea and a rest". He'll make someone really happy one day.
Conversations with a three-and-a-half-year-old.
"Mum - why does your face look so grumpy? Can you make it look happy?"
"Mum is that a baby in your tum tum? Or just a big farty?"
"Woah woah woah - everyone calm down. Make mum broken!" (give mum a break)
"Are you happy or angry? If you're angry I'll come back later."
"Mum, get in the right lane! The right lane! This car is brooming too slowly! You need to overtake him"
"If the duckling got squished by the car, won't his family miss him?"
(When I have accidentally said shit outloud and not just muttered it a hundred times under my breath) "Mum, we don't say that word. It's naughty, okay?"
Not too late to cherish.
When Archie got to six months old I thought this is the best age. They are no longer babies, you remember what sleep is and they can kinda move around a little by themselves. I had also been suffering PND for the first three months so I felt it was really the first time I started to enjoy my baby and really bond with him. But then you start wanting them to crawl, wanting them to say a word, wanting them to learn and interact. Then they can crawl you want them to walk. They say a word you want them to talk.
Suddenly they are three and you think why did I beg you to talk and walk??
Now I honestly feel this is my favourite age. You have created an amazing little pal who goes everywhere with you. You get to see things through their eyes and experience old as new again watching them explore it for the first time. He's still free at most attractions but old enough to engage with me during dinner. There are many questions and so much talking especially during work days when he's not at preschool and we "share an office space" but it's my absolute favourite thing in the world. You spend the day knowing when they go to bed you'll get some work done but then once they are asleep you can't wait for them to wake up again.
Listening to him make sense of the world around him and knowing that I'm providing those answers is the most important thing I've ever done in my life.
This week Dave's sister had a baby and we flew to Brisbane to meet him. Suddenly her two-year-old looked sixteen and my three-year-old looked a hundred and two. This is when I understood how people have more babies. The pain of labour is long forgotten, the sleepless nights a mystery and all you see is the soft skin and a cry that isn't Where's my red car?! The one with the angry eyesssssss?!. Then as you debate the concept of another child you think This time I'll cherish, I'll remember, I'll keep one of those diaries of everything they do - and suddenly they are three again...