1.) It’s not all tea parties. Yes, there are tea parties and princess dresses and My Little Ponies. There are also dinosaurs and robots made of legos and occasional wrestling matches and hair pulling. Today, D and Lucy defeated some sea snakes in the hallway by spraying large quantities of air freshener and then fleeing for the top bunk. Rather than saying no to gendered toys, we have tried to say yes to most things ( only a few things–Bratz, Alien Autopsy kits–have been ruled out entirely) and then encourage them to mix it up. It would not have occurred to me to put the My Little Pony skirts on the dinosaurs and stage an elaborate dino ballet, but they don’t hesitate to cross gender (and species) boundaries when they play.
2.) Having 3 is actually not that much more difficult than having 1. Because when you have 1, all you know is how to be a parent to 1 kid. And if you are anything like me, it is the most unbelievably overwhelming life-altering time suck you could ever imagine. I distinctly remember feeling that every minute of every day was overflowing with this new weird experience of parenting and sometimes that was joyful and sometimes we were all crying but there was no escaping, either way. I wrote about the intensity of those emotions earlier this spring. But once I had two, and three, I flexed. Time flexed. I parent differently. I’m less likely to read Busy Busy Pandas 100 times in a row and more likely to read it once and then say, “Now look at the pandas and make up your own story!” Or, “Go find your sister and ask her to make up a panda story with you!” Or, “Go roll around on the floor and pretend to be a panda!” Before Margeaux was born, I worried that D and Lucy would be jealous of the time I would need to devote to her. It only took a couple weeks to realize that in fact, they are so deeply enmeshed in their relationship to one another that if I left the fruit snacks and juice boxes within their reach, they might ignore me all day. And now that Margeaux is on the move, she tags along behind them and plays along to the best of her ability. Which brings me to:
3.) By the time you get to the third, safety standards seem like very flexible recommendations. When D was 1, if you had suggested that I let her go down the steps alone to jump on a trampoline with a 4 and 5 year old, I would have laughed out loud at your hilarious joke. Margeaux does this every day. In the morning, she sits on the couch with a toaster waffle and watches Ni Hao Kai Lan in her sleeper. She brushes her teeth. When I drop Lucy off at preschool, if I start chatting she’ll slip away and sneak into the classroom and sit down in a chair at one of the tables, like she’s totes ready for art center or play dough time. She can climb all the way up the ladder to the top bunk, though I try and prevent this since she and Lucy came crashing down in a sad, bruised pile last week. Today, though, I forgot to pull the ladder up because D slept in late, and when they fled the sea snakes Margeaux followed them up, lickity split, and they rolled around on the top bunk laughing and shrieking. When I reminded them that it’s not safe for Margeaux to be up so high D said, “But Mom! We were escaping the sea snakes! And sea snakes aren’t safe for babies either!” Can’t blame a girl for looking out for her baby sister.