Birthday Letter to Asher

Oh, Asher!

Three? Three years old? Already?

I suppose all of my birthday letters start out this way: How can you be this age already? (And isn’t Mommy predictable?)

Let me try to explain:

Mommy lives in two times, simultaneously.

In one timeline, the days are 30 hours each and they lumber by in no hurry because, really, where is there to go? There are runny noses to wipe and spills to mop. Toys spread out and toys are gradually raked back into their proper places, ebbing in and out, much like waves on a beach. Our rhythm and routines are routine; they simply push us through the hours slowly. There’s no real urgency because tomorrow will be very much like today or yesterday. Life is punctuated by visits to and from grandparents and trips to the grocery store. I only know it’s Tuesday because we’re out of Strauss vanilla yogurt. We creep silently toward each weekend with some anticipation because then Daddy will be home during the day and we’ll all enjoy his company.

The other timeline is faster and, frankly, I think you’re completely unaware of it. You don’t realize how quickly you are changing because you have plenty of other things to think about, like whether Lucas is touching your stuff or Daddy remembered to buy more yogurt. You don’t notice that you’re acquiring new information so fast it makes my head spin. Shiny new words pop out of your mouth every hour and sometimes I have to stop and wonder, where on earth did you hear that? I can practically watch your hair growing.

This is the timeline that people with older or grown children always refer to when they say, “Oh! It goes by so fast! Treasure the time when your baby is little!” And sleepily I think to myself, Bull! It doesn’t go fast. In fact, the minutes between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. numbered about 40,000 this morning. Because when we’re in it, in the trenches of every hour of every day, it’s slow going. But even as I restrain my temper and hold my tongue, I know those other parents are right, in a way. They’re talking about how one minute you need help to reach something on the countertop and the next minute you’re pushing me away with a forceful demand, “I do it by mySELF!” One minute you’re all about cuddling in the rocking chair, and the next you cannot be bothered because, as you explain so clearly, “Mom, I’m too busy.” And one day you won’t want to cuddle at all anymore and you’ll be borrowing my car keys and scrounging in my purse for cash. And then I’ll think just like all those other parents. I’ll know that my stint of living in two times is over, and they’ve merged into one, luge-like race.

But never mind. Let’s not borrow trouble, shall we?

And how can my meager words capture a picture of you now, on your third birthday, about to start your fourth year in our family? I guess I’ll start small.

You now have a wealth of likes and dislikes and you’re not afraid to tell us all about them. Your favorite colors are yellow and purple—your birthday cake was purple. Your favorite animal seems to be a hippo, although you also like cows, and mice, and aliens. I’m pretty sure you think aliens are just another everyday barnyard animal. You also think hippos and monkeys and zebras belong on farms, too. You enjoy the Bennetts’ cats a lot, but grandma’s dog Tolly is just a bit too tall and bouncy for you to feel entirely comfortable around her. She always licks your face and her tail accidentally bops you in the side of your head. Bacon (NoNo and Mars’s dog) is another story! You cannot get enough of Bacon and you think it’s hilarious that his name is Bacon!

Pretend play and role-playing are coming into the forefront of your play routines. You like to play firefighter, alien hunter, superhero, builder, guardian of Princess Mommy, store, and office—these last two games mostly involve your dumping everything you own (and much of your brother’s stuff) in a giant pile and then sitting in the middle of it—not unlike a 3-year-old dragon lazing atop your mountain of stolen gold.

Until just recently, you did all of your playing in the family room (where you could make the pile of stuff really big). You seem now to have discovered your bedroom, and have turned it into a factory. You are playing in there now more than ever before and you really like to have a witness. “Do you want to come in my factory?” you invite sweetly. You don’t like hearing no for an answer, though. At the moment, the train table is piled high with your toys all in a jumble. If I move anything, if I put any little thing away and you catch me doing it, you get really mad at me. Nothing will send you into a rage faster than when we touch your stuff. “DON’T TOUCH MY STUFF!”

About one week ago, we touched your stuff in a big way. We moved your brother’s bed into your room with the idea that the two of you will share a bedroom for a while. We had been discussing it for about a month and you and Lucas are very excited about it. You even became convinced it was your idea. “How ‘bout this idea? Lucas’s bed up high and Baby Asher’s bed down here!” So far this is working out pretty well. You don’t want to go to sleep at the same time as Lucas, but I think that’s just a matter of time and our sticking to it. We have let you stay up too late for too long for you to easily accept an abrupt change of routine and an earlier bedtime. We’re making the bedroom move in stages. It is our sincere hope that this will be a very positive thing for you and Lucas both. We’re hoping it might bring you closer together and encourage you to get along well. We’ll see…

Just this morning, the morning of your third birthday, you ran into our room and made a pronouncement. I was asleep at the time, so I don’t remember exactly what you said, but I remember thinking, My goodness! He really has learned to talk! Every day you perfect the art of communicating with us. You also are developing a juvenile sense of humor: Your favorite words now are “booty butt” and “poop,” which are both understandable and somewhat embarrassing. I mean, it’s not good manners to tell all the adult women you know “You have a big booty butt.” I’ve caught myself trying to soften the blow by warning my female friends before you can spring that little gem on them. You seem to say it just to see what will happen, given that you make the same size comment on a great variety booty butts.

You ask me pretty often these days whether I have a penis. When I answer in the negative, you’re not pleased and frequently claim you don’t have one either. Worse, you sometimes say something like “I don’t want a penis. I cut it off.” I assure you that penises are good and nice and you should have one. Boys have them and it’s great!

Asher, I’m delighted to report that you are learning to eat vegetables. You still would rather not do it, but you have a more pragmatic approach to mealtimes now. If you want dessert (often strawberries or oranges or apple slices), you have to muscle your way through some spinach leaves or a couple of carrots. I bless your preschool teachers every time you accept your fate and start munching on plant foods. You’re acquiring a taste for potatoes and the other day you even dove into a pile of asparagus. I said a silent hallelujah while hushing your brother’s groans and moans about having to eat it. You still ask for “chocolate dinner,” though, as if you’ve ever gotten a chocolate dinner! When you cook for me in your kitchen, you often serve chocolate dinners.

I noticed that you were developing an aversion to the doctor’s office. We have had to visit Dr. Felix three or four times this fall/winter; the first time was for a flu shot. You began protesting, saying “I don’t need a doctor. Doctor is creepy. I don’t go to the doctor.” We have started playing doctor in the hopes that you would build up more positive associations, and for your birthday, we bought you a groovy doctor’s kit and stethoscope. I think you’re more comfortable now with the idea that doctors fix people and make them feel better. Today at your birthday party you blew through all the band-aids that came in the kit. You say, “Be really, really brave” as you come at me with your wooden hypodermic needle. All the party guests left with their owies well treated by Doctor Baby Asher.

And speaking of your name, you still refer to yourself as Baby Asher. Sometimes you announce “I a big boy.” I think that your teachers are working on that idea at school. After all, big boys get to do more cool stuff. You have proven me wrong about the potty training—you still have no interest in using the potty. Silly mommy, making false predictions about when you’d learn those potty skills! Still, I’m hoping that your buddy at school will inspire you to start doing it. And I know boys tend to train later than girls do.

Occasionally, you are a furious wildcat when it’s time for a nap. The other day I held you in my arms and swayed on my feet while you howled and spit, clawed and hissed, groaned and growled, thrashed and scratched and wailed for 35 minutes. Then, you collapsed in a heap and slept for two solid hours. You just don’t want to rest. You are far to busy doing your own thing. But I persist and I fervently hope that you will continue napping through the next year at least.

Dear Asher, you are both my fascination and my tiny little nemesis. You offer us such joy, such pleasure, and such tribulation! You are my perfect, exquisite little torturer and I love you through it all. Thank you for being my darling, my Angel Boy. Thank you for falling asleep in my arms and by my side. Thank you for gracing my life will all the laughter, snuggles, and goofy grins. My heart is full to bursting. My life is richer for you.

I love you, Baby. My Little Big Boy Asher. Happy Birthday!


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    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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