Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's okay! I won't try to eat it!

Published December 2, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

November 14 was a momentous day in my household. I know, I know. I have momentous days all the time. It's one of the cool things about having five kids. One child would give me several occasions per year that I could call momentous. Multiplied by five, the momentous day potential leaves me giddy to the point of collapse.

Michael was the child in question on that Wednesday two weeks ago. He made the day momentous by being kind enough to have a birthday...and not just any birthday. Michael's cake was topped by candles numbering three. Say it with me now...MO-MENT-OUS!

If you're a mom, it won't be difficult to understand where I'm coming from here. The third birthday is a big event. It's HUGE! At this point, I'm not sure there is any birthday more exciting or welcome than a child's third birthday. Yes, the first is fun with its lone candle and cake-covered face. 16 is exciting (terrifying?) with the promise of adulthood around the corner the prospect of driving right there on the doorstep. But three...three is THE year, my friends.

Three is the year mothers all over the U.S. get to tone down the worrying (just a notch, of course). You see, three is a magic age in which a child suddenly stops looking for windpipe trouble around every corner. I'm talking about choking, people. My youngest Wilson has officially passed the choking hazard age limit and has been promoted to dogs. That's right! Michael has the go ahead to eat hard candy!

Let me tell you, this is a relief! It's been a long, lonely 11 years, raising children who could at any moment decide to choke on anything that happened to be lying on the carpet. It's been a long three years, getting Michael to this point. And with four older children who crossed the three year threshold many moons ago and therefore have no small-toy part restrictions, it hasn't been easy keeping things off the carpet.

Mothering a child under three is kind of like walking through a minefield...a minefield of legos and board game parts. The hazards are everywhere. And by the time a child gets to be about two, he's smart enough to realize you're not letting him have what everyone else has, but not quite developed enough to understand why.

Fortunately for us, Michael has crossed over into the world of the "3 and ups." If Miriam dumps her craft beads all over the floor in her room, we're good. If Ray spills his rock collection or Cate empties Monopoly, it's going to be all right. That long awaited day has come at last! I feel like making a t-shirt for Michael that says, "It's okay! I won't try to eat it!" (I wonder if I could get him to wear it every day.)

Now that my youngest has made this giant leap for all toddlerkind, I'm left to wonder how I'll fill my time. Perhaps now, I can finally take up tennis. Maybe I'll learn to water ski. I don't know. What I do know is that I don't have to worry about that bag of butterscotch candies my friend gave me or the container of marbles just waiting to be tipped over. Michael is three now, and this mother's butterscotch filled dreams just came true. For the time being, he is safe.

Until Evelyn introduces him to matches, of course.