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Three.

You’re not a baby anymore, or so you say. You’re a big boy! Well, not quite. Not yet. But you most definitely are not a baby.

You’re potty trained, you talk a blue streak, you like to sing. Whatever needs doing, you want to do it yourSELF.

Last night, when I had my back turned, you got into the Monopoly box and emptied it onto the floor – every last dollar bill. Your sister found you, and I heard her say, “Zev, no! That’s a choking hazard!”

My first thought was, you’re almost three! Choking hazards are so passé.

These days you’re all about the costume changes. Your chef costume (your “baker”) is still your primary preoccupation, but you’re glad to moonlight as a police man, an engineer, or a farmer.

When I told you I would bake you a birthday cake, you looked skeptical. “You will not fit in the costume,” you warned.

You make me laugh all the time, and you love to laugh along. You’re also turning into something of a troublemaker, but it’s impossible to stay angry with you for very long, especially now that you’ve adopted Swiper’s “oh man!” as your response to anything remotely disciplinary (thanks, Dora).

Some things haven’t changed. You still love to snuggle. Given the choice, you’d prefer to sleep in my bed rather than yours. You give amazing hugs. There’s nothing quite like the way your face lights up when you see me.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find you lying right up against me. I marvel at how much you’ve grown since the first night we spent that way, curled next to each other in a hospital bed. And I wonder how many more nights we’ll have like this.

I think columnist Carol Band summed it up perfectly in her final parenting column, published last month in the Boston Parents Paper:

Parents are obsessed with firsts – the first smile, tooth or step. We anticipate, encourage and videotape. We fill baby books and photo albums to document the first day of school, first words, first haircut. The lasts, however, are sneakier. The last time you read a bedtime story or French braid your daughter’s hair are not celebrated or mourned – because even while they’re happening, you don’t know that you’ll never do it again.

The first three  years are full of firsts, one after another. Now they’ll slow down, and it will be time to confront some of those unwelcome lasts.

It’s bittersweet, but at least I know you’ll make it fun. You always do.

Happy 3rd birthday, Z!

See also:

Welcome to the world, Baby Boy

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