An Unexpected Teacher – The End of The Little

ax_fro_yoThe early years of parenting are a blur but two memories persist from the first time I was living with a three-year old.

One memory is hiring a full-time nanny and explaining her job description as “get our oldest out of the house.”

The second memory is trying to generate compassion for our daughter by thinking about how sad I would be if something happened to her.

Now that our middle kid is three, we’re in familiar territory. However, this time it feels different.

I wasn’t able to see what follows until I was taught to look for it.


We have a mixing bowl that has each of the kids’ names in it.

We draw a name from the bowl and the kid that wins is Kid-of-the-Day.

Kid-of-the-day gets to choose where s/he sits in the car and what shows we watch.

When we drew Bella’s name out of the bowl, my three-year old (Axel) was jumping for joy because it was his sister’s “day”.

The capacity to experience joy for another person’s good fortune.

I’m grateful to be able to see that in my house.


I don’t meditate about my kids dying anymore but I often think about my own death.

Through my contemplation, I can see the transient nature of my little boy. He’s arrived at the end of being little. The “little” phase is nearly done.

It was awesome.

I miss him before he’s gone.

I’ve been working with that feeling to get a better appreciation of life.

As the bumper sticker says, these are the good-old days.


When things were very difficult with my eldest, I would assign motive and intent to her behavior.

…she knows what she is doing to me…

In speaking with child development experts, they assured me that it was impossible for a little kid to have intent. Possibly, the kids are picking up on my internal struggles and reflecting them right back at me.

Most likely, my experience is dictated by the turmoil in my own mind.


One of the most amazing things about three-year olds is their capacity to switch between emotional states (tears – to joy – to tears – to laughter – to tears),

I remember one time my son had me on the edge. It was the second hour of putting him to sleep, I was exhausted and he was making request after request after request…

I was spending considerable energy not acting on my frustration, and feeling like crying, he says… Daddy, I love you.

…and reminded me that we will never regret not acting on our anger.