Just One

The girls were away at a sleepover last night. It was just three of us: daddy, the boy, and me. It is a different feeling and experience, having only one child to look after, especially one so young. At three, the boy is fully conversational, able to use the bathroom on his own, able to voice what it is he needs/wants (although wiping remains an issue and I still have to remind myself that gwonna is pepperoni or pointing, to him, sometimes, is enough to indicate what he wants.)

I love him. He is hilarious and sweet and he yells and he jumps and he isn’t nearly as “sure, fine, take your time” as the girls were. All of a sudden he’s into Spiderman and Batman and Thor and punch, punch, lunge. All of a sudden he’s into trains, cars, trucks, bam! crash! splat!, Buzz Lightlight to the rescue. Yep, he’s still refusing to say Lightyear and I won’t correct him. Yet. Or ever. Seriously, who’s going to say my kid isn’t up to par developmentally just because he refuses to┬árefer to a make believe character’s make believe name?

He is squarely in the “No” phase. No, he’s not going to stop that. No, he’s not going to “come here right now.” No, he’s not going to eat that banana he asked for after all, after just one bite. No, he didn’t just have a cup of juice, you didn’t just give him a cup of juice, he isn’t asking for a cup of juice after quickly drinking the cup of juice you just gave him. No, this is not yours, it’s his, as in the dreaded “mine.”

Mine. If there has ever been a word used by a child that encompasses all that it means to be entitled to all that the world has to offer, it is mine. Stop, it’s mine. No, it’s mine. Mine, mine, mine! I still hear this word from the girls and that’s what makes it so magical. It is undoubtedly a magical word. It can make sisters stop trying to take back something that belongs to them just because a small boy claims it as his own. It can make a small boy draw back and swing at a bigger girl’s knees with all his tiny might just because she took from him what is hers.

And then there are tears. We go through an awful lot of tissue. The boy is never far from tears.

Damn, would you stop crying over everything?

My precious baby, who did it, who do you need me to hurt, climb into my lap and let me pet you.

Ugggggggghhhhhhh you are so irritating with the whining, crying, inability to put your needs into actual words. No one understands all┬áthat you’re saying through the snot.

My precious tiniest boy, what is it that you need, what can I do, do you need more fruit snacks, let me make you cupcakes and not give any to those mean sisters who are being mean to you. Meanies.

I’m sort of conflicted about his crying is what I’m saying.

Do you want to know a turn on for me? Of course you do. It is my husband, ‘pon the floor with the boy, putting together a puzzle, giving occasional “good job” high-fives when he places one correctly (even though I am secretly annoyed because WHY’RE YOU SO SURPRISED HE’S DOING THE PUZZLE CORRECTLY?)

He asked for the girls so many times last night I started to feel bad for him. Once they returned early this afternoon he started kicking, punching, and following them around. Everything had returned to normal and I was, am, grateful. The difference in caring for one is remarkable. Throughout the day with all three of them here today, I kept recalling how easy it was to do what he needed. He needed water. He needed help with a game, then with the puzzle. He wanted to play with his toys. I played with him. He wanted to run through the house. I ran with him. He wanted to watch a movie. I never once told him to wait.

With all three of them here today, one needed her hair done, one needed help with homework, and he needed help in the bathroom. One couldn’t find her shoes, one was hungry, and he wanted to put together a puzzle. One had a headache, one couldn’t find her book, and he wanted to be held. Last night my arms were full with just him and I savored it; I clung to it, the ease of caring for just him, being able to meet his needs as he needed them met. There was no just a second, no in a minute, no WHEN I FINISH THE TWO HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHTH THING OF TODAY I’LL HELP YOU. And yet. I felt lost, incomplete. Tonight, even as they threw things at me that made no sense (because seriously seventh grade math teachers, your questions about perimeters only make me tell her to be sure she trusts her contractor to take appropriate measurements), it felt normal.

For us, having just one in the house is a remarkable, needed break. It’s also a reminder that we are a family of five. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (well, unless it meant we could be six. SHUT UP.)


  1. says

    When one of the girls isn’t here, Chris and I love that time with the other but it really does pull at our hearts because they truly miss each other. They race to see each other when they get home from being apart. I hope it is always this way for them. They have their moments like all kids but this “friendship” of theirs is something I wish all of us could have.

  2. says

    It is so nice and slow to have just the one, but it is also not right (for me) unless there are two. They go together. Much like my brother and I are Jennifer and Jason, they are Cady and James. It is hard to have the one without the other. They are a set.

  3. says

    Geez, you mean three is crazier than two? Because I feel like, on days like today, that I might LOSE MY MIND if he can’t make up his.

  4. says

    Whoever said that boys weren’t emotional were TOTALLY wrong. They are totally emotional….they just aren’t as irrational as girls can be. I love me some boys. Good thing, bc I have 4 of them.

  5. says

    I feel the same way when we only have one or even only have two. I do admit that this weekend I was marveling at what a good psychologist/negotiator/politician my youngest is dealing with a teen and a tween sibling every day.

    The kid got some skilz and he sibilings are not even aware!

  6. says

    Now imagine how Jimmy and I feel when our ONE is away on a sleepover! We don’t know what to do. We look at each other like “who the hell is that?” and we keep going into his room and looking for him. We love our tiny threesome, but I certainly envy your houseful.

  7. says

    I’m always amazed at the patience and energy I have when I’m one-on-one with one of our kids. (And I agree, it’s a total turn-on to see my husband with our babies.)

  8. says

    The early sleepovers are strange. But it gets stranger. My oldest is only 1.5 years away from college and we’ll then just have a 10.5 year old (he’s 9 now). I just keep thinking how weird that’s going to be that the 4 of us aren’t together anymore. At least for now, your family was all back together the next night ;)

  9. says

    This reminds me of the first time we took my oldest to a sleepover and took ONLY TWO kids out to dinner. Although I felt like something was missing it was still easier because my brain was on one less kid.

    Glad he was so happy to see them when they returned. :) Sibling love is so fun to watch.

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