The World According to 3 Year Old


January 28, 2013 by Katia

We recently came back from Florida and although it was a wonderful vacation I now realize that we didn’t have to travel all the way to Orlando to visit Magic Kingdom when 3 Year Old already lives in one. His world is a mostly magical place where babies are born out of spoons, shooting stars zoom by every 5 minutes and it’s possible to find purple bushes and pink cats if you wish hard enough for them. ‘But mommy, how do babies get IN your belly?’ 3 Year Old likes to ask me from time to time, but only when I’m alone and unprepared. The first time the subject was brought up, I gave a one size fits all explanation saying that mommy gives something, daddy gives something and together it becomes a baby. I thought it was brilliant improvising under stressful circumstances, he probably guessed  it was ok for now so we moved on to argue about Latkes. Although this was an acceptable first encounter with the topic, this kind of ambiguity and “daddy gives something” BS wasn’t going to fly again, so when he asked what it was exactly that mommy and daddy “gave” I mumbled ‘ahem, eggs (?) and sp(ahem-ahem)erm (?)’ thinking it was an abstract enough concept at this point to not scar him for life. Come to think of it, these terms are so foreign to him that he’s not even going to remember any of this anyway and be that child in daycare. So there. Glad we talked.

‘So mommy, daddy holds the spoon and you put two eggs in it and then you eat the babies and this is how they get in your belly! (?)’ He triumphantly declares/asks me for a clarification a month and a half later. Sure, son, I can live with that. It sounds a lot more civil, actually, except for the part where I would have to eat my babies. And then I was hit with the obvious. So much of 3 Year Old’s world consists of the magical and ambiguous and the magical is just another channel through which he experiences reality. He doesn’t see these two terms, as we do, as contradictions. I recently told him about the direct relationship between eye lashes and wishes. I’m pretty sure to him this makes as much sense as any other consequence we teach him. You brush your teeth to avoid cavities, you blow an eye lash to make a wish come true. And since wishes are Genie sphere, the wish itself needs to be every bit as magical as its delivering vessel. That’s probably why instead of a Spiderman Something (his go to “I wish I had”) he asked for a world with lots of purple bushes and green butterflies and even….” After someone had told him about shooting stars he had spent an entire evening last week looking out the window in our bedroom oohing and wowing at the many shooting stars he saw every time an airplane flew by.

‘Mommy, do boys sometimes sit on the floor on a blanket?’ he inquires with a furrowed brow and a concerned look. Yes, the world is magical but also very obscure. He understands that there are rules and he wants to make sure he doesn’t mess up. The rules address some very specific situations like this one: ‘Can we call pigs fat but not cows?’ And if there is anyone in this world who is qualified to answer a tricky question like that it’s us, mom and dad. He understands some pretty complex concepts but cannot wrap his mind around the words ugly, stupid, hag and fat. Mommy, what’s stupid again? The opposite of smart, I reply. One evening I caught him memorizing this list in his bed, counting words with his chubby little fingers – hag, ugly, stupid – fearful that he should slip and use one of these words by mistake. ‘Mommy, what other words shouldn’t we say?’ In his world toys are equal citizens, hence his shameful confession that was whispered to me one evening ‘Mommy, today in nursery school I called Big Long Dog fat’.


Toy dog, Big Long Dog.

‘Mommy, do dogs sometimes miss boys named Ben?’ And sometimes we’re the enablers of fantasy when we make a dog that passed away relocate to Doggy Land with its parents. The bureaucracy involved in this relocation is unbelievable. You have to make sure that the world is on board with Doggy Land and you start educating your entire network, the various caregivers, neighbours and friends, remember it’s Doggy Land, you guys and you read them the Doggy Land constitution. We lost our Louisa in July. Two weeks before 5 Month Old was born. 8 Month Pregnant was heart broken over losing her ally, the only other female in the house. I was also confused. How do we break this to him. How do we talk about a doggy hospital that she never came back from when in just a few weeks I’ll be going to a hospital myself. We didn’t want to bring up illness, death, heaven so Doggy Land it had to be. 3 Year Old still thinks that she is there, with her parents, and knows that she is happy, but whenever he picks a conversation with a stranger walking their dog, he now points to the sky and says: ‘My doggy’s name is Louisa. She is way up in the sky with her parents. I miss her but I need a plane to go visit her.” And then I swallow through that lump in my throat and realize that in his world where we are born out of spoons, all it takes to reunite with the departed is an airplane.

Real Dog, Louisa

Real Dog, Louisa

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10 thoughts on “The World According to 3 Year Old

  1. Tuzenbah says:

    Замечательная мама замечательного мальчика!

  2. So true, it can be really hard to navigate the line between fantasy and reality with kids. I don’t want to fill my 4 year old’s head with nonsense, but I don’t want to make his reality too harsh while he is still young enough to be open to the wonder all around him. Something to keep in mind for sure.

    • Katia says:

      Yes, that is exactly right. You’ve summarized it perfectly.

      • Tuzenbah says:


      • Katia says:

        A mne nravitsa opredeleniye astronomicheskiy podhod. Eto zdorovo.

  3. Raya G. says:

    Katia, privet,
    it was good to receive a word from your Mom about the blog. What a wonderful idea to record essential moments, jokes, stories and pictures to read them later and at the same time to have a conversation with other adults. Good luck. I will continue reading.

    • Katia says:

      Privet Raichka,

      Yes, the blog was born out of amazement at how becoming a mom for the second time around was so different than my first experience and I wanted to look for other people who felt the same way 🙂 But I do find that it’s a great way for me to record family moments instead of letting them slip away. I’m glad you’ll be reading, I’ll think of you the next time I post! 🙂

  4. susan says:

    three is my favorite age…

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