The third Musketeer…
Having three children is a roller coaster of an experience without a doubt. I could write volumes on subjects ranging from “How To Keep Your Sanity When Shopping With Three Young Children” to “How To Keep Some Semblance of Order in Your Household.” One thing I often reflect on, though is the phenomenon of the third child. I had a younger brother that I grew up with and with whom I did most of my playing, fighting, scheming and just generally living. When I was 14, my next little brother joined the picture, and then my last little brother came along when I was 23, so I’m not sure what category either of them fall into, but I don’t think we had the typical “third child” in our family 🙂 Research is fraught with “take-backs,” “reviews” and just plain disagreements on the subject of birth order and its alleged meaning, so I’m not even going to go there. What we did/do have is a blended family centered around love and that’s all that counts right? 🙂
So having three children, approximately 2 years apart between each of them is a new experience. When Olivia was born, there was the enormous “first child” experience…A baby!!!! Whoa!!!! There are no words to fully describe it. I think I took THOUSANDS of pictures…some of them were just her asleep…in 40 different positions. You get the idea…if you’re a parent, you’re nodding your head 😉
When Chris came along two years later it was still a mind-numbing miracle (is it ever NOT?) and there were new things to discover with him being the first boy–like getting peed on a lot when the diaper came off…I’d love to see some research on that one…it’s not just that they can shoot pee up in the air. I get that. It’s that the boys pee RIGHT when the diaper comes off….it’s a conspiracy or something. Anyway. Then there was also the really AWESOME stuff that came along with siblings. Watching Olivia’s toddler face as she discovered her new little bro and I’ll NEVER forget the first time she made Chris laugh…it was pure joy.
So what was left for Alex? Still the mind-blowing miracle…I’ll never get over it….but then what? We’d already had a boy, we’d already done the “sibling discovery” thing. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t find everything so “cool” that time around. Let me tell you, I didn’t expect Alex to just break all the rules and surprise us at every turn. The joy of the “third child” has been a sight to behold. Watching his siblings from birth, he was enamored with them right away. Of course, busy with two other kids, Alex became independent very fast. I STILL am amazed when he does something that Olivia and Chris wouldn’t have thought to do themselves at his age of 3. Before he was even two, he was trying to pour his own drink…he never thought to ask, he just started doing it…with some success 🙂 By two he was getting the cup and trying to get the cap off and pour the drink and by 3 the goes to the fridge with a stool, gets the juice, gets the cup, pours the drink and then goes to the pantry to forage for food…all when we’re not looking. I remember begging Olivia and Chris to go get their own stinking juice while I nursed the baby! 🙂
Alex has learned SO MUCH from his brother and sister that I can’t imagine who he would be if he only had me and Randy around. Of course, he is great at occupying himself (independence), but even though he’s shy with strangers, he adapts to new children and situations pretty quickly. He looks so shy and frail, but put him in a tough situation and he…deals with it. No other word for it. He’s the only 3 year old in our circle of friends who likes Spiderman, Batman, Superman, The Green Lantern and any other superhero out there. The teachers at the kindergarten are always surprised that he brings stuff like Bumblebee (transformer) for show and tell instead of a teddy bear or toy train. Right now it’s strange, because even though his personality (which I haven’t talked much about–I’m saving that for his birthday blog coming up 🙂 ), shines through, his preferences are overshadowed by his siblings to the point that I sometimes wonder what he would really choose without big brother and sister influence.
The third child is a paradox of independence and dependence in extremes. He is so independent in some things, yet he NEEDS his brother and sister’s opinions before he knows what to do sometimes. I’m caught a lot of times not knowing what the right decision to make is…Olivia and Chris both have swimming lessons now and every time it comes up, Alex lights up and says “I get to go swimming at my Kindergarten tooooo?” To which we all have to reply “Sorry, Alex, when you’re big enough.” Of course, this breaks his heart EVERY time. I finally bought him a swim cap, just like Olivia and Chris’ cause I felt so bad. It’s hard not to cave when he obviously just wants to do what Olivia and Chris are doing, but I’m realizing that maybe that’s the big parenting dilemma of the “third child” right now….letting him have some individuality outside of the family. I am grateful that he’s now going to preschool by himself and learning to make friends on his own. I’m sure the dilemma’s of raising a third-born will change later as the years go on…he’s only three after all!