Grey turns three today, whether he knows it or not. I think he must know it — he celebrated by throwing up in the car this morning. (One of the challenges of being a parent to a child with a touchy stomach is that it’s very difficult to figure out when they’re really sick and need to stay home vs. when they are just throwing up because, you know, it’s fun and different!)
So what does it mean that Grey’s three?
Grey long ago passed the easy-to-capture milestones and firsts. After that, it’s all an element of degrees.
Verbally, Grey can usually make himself understood to people who are not related to him, depending on the subject matter. He’s started telling long and involved stories. They usually involve bad guys, hitting, explosions, Spiderman (red vs. black), fighting, and time-outs. He knows his days of the week, except Thursday which seems to give him problems. He can count up to forty and has known his alphabet for several years at this point. He knows all his basic colors and shapes. He can sound out words, and can probably identify ten or twelve when they’re written. He has a relatively extensive and sometimes surprising vocabulary. Ice cream is “delectable” (WHERE did that one come from?). He’s not angry or mad, no, he’s frustrated. And just yesterday we learned he knew a word that got him a three minute time out. Hint: it’s the same one that the kid in “A Christmas Story” used that ended up having him have his mouth washed out with soap. “To be” verbs still seem to be on the optional list and he mixes up cold and hot, but if you know the context for what Grey’s talking about, almost everything else is comprehensible. Grey does seem to have a bit of trouble with initial “S” sounds followed by a consonant. So “snake” often ends up as “nake”.
He spends a lot of time on days of the week, locations and people. Often the first thing he’ll ask me in the morning is what day it is and what happens that day. Is it a daycare day or a church day? Is anyone coming over for dinner? He knows the routes to all the places we go regularly — the chiropractor’s office, church, daycare, dance classes, the “Y”…. even the Starbucks near church. He knows the exit numbers for many of them, thereby putting him ahead of me. He has strong preferences on which route we should take. He talks a lot about those absent, especially the fellow inmates of Camp Gramp. The other day he jokingly introduced himself as his cousin, who has a rather difficult to pronounce three syllable name. He loves a little picture book I have for him with pictures of people he knows — he likes to go through and name everyone and talk about what they’re doing.
He tends to introduce himself by spelling, instead of saying, his name. “I G-R-E-Y.” I think this is because, given his unusual nickname, when I introduce him I usually end up spelling his name to make it clear that he is NOT “Greg”. Grey also loves letters and knows what they signify and I think he appreciates the letters in his name more than the name itself. I’m not quite sure if he knows that “grey” is also a color.
Grey can even write his name, after a fashion. The “G” is pretty good. The “R” is a circle with two spokes coming out of it. For “E” he’ll make the vertical bar and then add sufficient lines coming off it to fill up the bar. (Sort of looks like a caterpillar — the “E” is definitely my favorite.) The “Y” is three vertical lines that do not touch. These may or may not be written in the same orientation with each other. His fine motor skills — the skills for writing — are among his most advanced I think. He’s perfectly capable of unscrewing and rescrewing the lid to his toothpaste. He spends a lot of time practicing writing and drawing. He likes to draw people. He’ll carefully look at them and make sure he includes all the relevant elements, like earrings and hair. He can use a mouse better than lots of grownups I’ve met — to our chagrin. He can totally close out the software we have him using and pull up something more interesting, like the C drive. I’m very intentionally NOT teaching him how to use a screwdriver.
As far as large motor skills go, Grey is completely and utterly fearless. He climbs, jumps, crawls, leaps, runs and can even do a very good somersault. He’s pretty tall — he can and will reach the top of our kitchen counters. He’s also a fearfully good tool-using mammal. He pushes over chairs, toys or other things to stand on if what he desires is out of his reach. Grey is really fast. Right now he can run faster than I can. (Then again, several kinds of sloth can currently run faster than I can.) He also has endurance. He can and will walk for up to two miles, if correctly motivated. Motivation often involves daddy claiming that he will get to the goal before Grey can.
Grey likes to spend his free time as a kitty cat. Or spiderman. Or possibly as an angry robot. He will sometimes say “Aye aye captain!” in the most charming manner.
Socially, it’s very difficult to figure out where a three year old is. He sometimes plays nicely with other children, although just as often he’s playing around them instead of with them. He likes chasing games. He’s unafraid of large groups and pretty much never pulls the “wallflower” act. No no, he’s in the middle of the action, wherever the action is. He talks about his friends a good deal. He has some of his manners down (he’s pretty good about please, thank you and excuse me), but others are lacking. He hasn’t figured out how to introduce himself to someone who doesn’t know him. But he’s extraordinarily outgoing and friendly. He pitched a major fit the other day because he didn’t have a hand free to wave “thank you” to a motorist who had stopped for us to cross the street. He often says “hello” to people who are definitely not expecting it — including our next door neighbor. (He likes to say hello out the window in our kitchen.) He hasn’t quite figured out that sometimes people can’t hear him, or simply do not expect to be greeted (see also: surly looking teenagers). I personally love this about him. He reminds me to be more friendly myself. I think he’s a normal extrovert for his age.
Behaviorally, he’s also pretty typical I think. He vacillates between affectionate, “I love you very very much, mommy!” and violent. There’s definitely been a decrease in hitting, pinching and kicking (and biting has more or less disappeared altogether), but it still happens sometimes. Most of the time he behaves in an appropriate middle ground. Actually, I’ve been really quite pleased with his behavior lately. He’s doing a good job of listening and following the rules, even when he doesn’t want to.
He has a charming wheedle, where he will say “please” in the super-sweet voice when thwarted and then promise you something. Promises might include being your friend, letting you play with his toys, or giving you candy. I sometimes relent when he is super-polite like this, because I’d rather have the polite negotiating behavior than the violent lashing out that we had before. Sometimes, when you ask really really nicely, a no DOES turn to a yes! Yesterday, he promised his father and I that he would not open the package of candy that he was holding, and he didn’t!
Sleep is going better. He’s rarely waking up during the night anymore. He usually sleeps in until about 7ish, which is just fine by our schedule. Going to sleep has even improved with the advent of a rule that any time he opens the door, unless there’s ACTUALLY a poopy diaper involved, he loses one of his night lights. This gives him a stake in the game, and there are nights where we don’t have to answer any of his questions after the initial light’s out. (If there’s a bit of thumping from his room after he’s supposed to be in bed, well, as long as he’s staying in his room and not calling for us, it’s ignored.)
Grey eats as well as you can expect from a preschooler. He likes sweets better than dinner, of course. But he really like fruit and eats quite a lot of it. He’s gotten used to milk and water being the standard drinks and juice and chocolate milk being a treat. He will often eat the meal put before him.
Regarding potty training? There’s no doubt that Grey has all the skills necessary to be trained. What he doesn’t have is parents who are in a position to put in the focus and attention. He also lacks motivation. (So do we!) I plan on potty training him sort of whole-hog during my maternity leave. Wish me luck with that.
To sum up? Grey is a joy, a delight and a fun kid to have around.
Grey three years ago today:
Grey two years ago today:
Grey one year ago today: