They say every age is hard, but just in different ways. From newborn to adult, kids have different challenges at each age. Just when you start to figure them out and get the hang of each developmental milestone, they change and a new one comes along. But for the first time, at three and a half years old, it’s actually not that bad.
Maybe it’s just by comparison to the first three years when everything results in a tantrum. Maybe it’s finally getting a somewhat decent amount of sleep. Maybe it’s that at three and a half, the rate of developmental change has slowed enough that we can finally get used to the current state enough to handle the day to day. Whatever it is, three and a half is much more manageable than any previous age.
Though I don’t have experience to say for sure, I’m pretty sure it’s also better than any other upcoming age too. Sure, things will get better in some regards and they’ll become more independent, but they’ll also be moodier, independent from me, and less willing to do and try things. Once they become teenagers, all bets are off. Realizing this, I decided to take stock of how great the current age is, and appreciate how good we’ve got it.
As newborns, our boys kept us busy with sleep deprivation and crying without any idea of the cause. Then they finally started sleeping more regularly, but we had to deal with constant meltdowns before they could talk and tell us the problem. Then they could talk, but that came with screaming. Around three, they could communicate more, but they’d also just breakdown without any warning some times. Of course that still happens sometimes, but it’s far less often and they can usually tell us what’s bothering them now, making it much easier.
At three and a half, they’ve grown into their personalities more as well. They regularly crack me up and melt my heart with their unexpected little thoughts and conversations. They can legitimately make me belly laugh with ridiculous things now like dancing and their crazy adorable questions. They’ve even started telling stories and their own version of jokes which are funny for unintended reasons. Now that they’ve truly become their own little people, they’re so much more fun.
At this age, they’re also adventurous and finally old enough to do some of the things I looked forward to with parenting. All of our activities aren’t just pushing them around places now like the zoo, aquarium, or stores to keep them occupied. Now, I can take them ice skating and even skiing, and they just embrace it. If I had waited a few more years, it’s entirely possible they would have just refused. At this age they are willing to try new things and are much more able to adapt to new situations.
As a kid, I got exposure to lots of great things early in my formative years like travel and interesting food and even skating, and these are the things I love even if I’m not that great at now. Other things like skiing I didn’t start learning until much later on, and while I still love them and didn’t get afraid to do them, I’ll ever be a natural or expert at them like I would have if I had started earlier. Even now that I’ve gotten very comfortable with skiing, I’ll never go as fast as I can possibly go and will stay away from the more exciting slopes because I’ll always harbor some fear of it. Had I started earlier like my kids might, I doubt I would have this.
Another fun part of this age is looking forward to the future. They’re finally old enough that I can get glimpses of what they’ll be like and do as they get older. As their personalities have emerged, I can picture what they are going to be like at least when they are a little older. Now that I’ve introduced them to the activities I most wanted to do together as they get older, I can certainly picture family ski trips and weekend hockey games far more than I could when they were younger. These are also far closer now, so it’s easier to imagine myself driving them around too.
Sure, I know that as they get older they’re going to become even more fun loving and unique, but from where I stand right now, I think this is the perfect age. It can be difficult at times and it’s never easy, but it’s a very fun time. Unlike earlier ages where it just felt like survival mode, three and a half has actually give us time to take a breath and enjoy the age a bit more and we’re starting to see the even more fun and exciting times ahead. Of all the ages the boys have been so far, three and a half can still be the worst in its own ways, but far more often, it’s the best age.