My Recipe for Three

preschool art

At preschool each week, I am struck over and over again by the absolute hilarity of the three and four year old set.  I could sit and listen to them talk for hours.  I find them amusing, adorable, and clever.  At home, my own almost 3 1/2 year old on the other hand, well, he bounces off the walls, talks fast and loud, and generally wears me out.  Yes, he’s hilarious and lots of fun but he is exhausting!  In fact, let me dig through my email quickly and find a couple of recent funny things he has said recently.  Sometimes I email them to my friend Eve who is amused by Silas’ antics, sometimes I just email myself!

-Yesterday after co op, I laid Silas in the (empty) church parking lot next to my van to quickly change his diaper.  He pointed to a nearby cigarette butt and said, “That was mine.  I used to smoke, but I quit.” 

-He just fell down and hit his head.  I picked him up and held him for a few minutes.  When he finished crying he told me, “That bonk on the head made me good now.”  As in good boy vs. bad boy.  I don’t buy it.

-I made rice pudding tonight, and Jonny asked, “Silas, “Isn’t mommy the best?”  He answered, “No.”  I asked him,  “Silas, who’s the best?” He deadpanned, “I am.  I poop the potty.”

Anyway, child number six, he demands attention, and he gets it.  I try to work things so that the good attention outweighs the bad.  It isn’t always easy.  Sometimes I have to make little sacrifices.  Such as…

Yesterday I had plans for an afternoon grocery shopping trip alone (the luxury!) Last minute, I decided to tack on a couple of fun stops and make the trip a date for Silas and me.  He’s been especially wild and crazy this week (this year), and I knew the one-on-one attention would do him good.  And really, when it’s just the two of us he’s a pretty fun date as long as I keep the outing under two hours or so.  Of course I didn’t, we were out for closer to four hours, and by the end he was throwing groceries out of the cart while I tried to remain positive.

Three is hard, but it’s good hard.  I just can’t let myself slip into a pattern of managing bad behavior.  It’s important to remember that even at three, Silas is an individual and if he’s a little wild and crazy, well then, I best find my way to help him get occupied in a positive way, rather than say yes to Starfall one more time….

Lots of outdoor play, stories, art, and the occasional date afternoon.  That’s my recipe for a happy three.



  1. Oh my goodness I am right in the think of this alongside you, my middle boy is 3 and he is bonkers with it! It is so hard because you know that they just want a bit of attention and when they get it they are truly enlightening to be around, but when they don’t….wow! Lovely to know others are picking up the food from the floor wiping up the spills and calming down the tantrums too. Especially like the cigarette gag – Love your blog x

  2. Oh my goodness, hilarious!!!! The cigarette butt story made me bust out laughing. I have a 3.5 year old, too, and find so much in common with this post…ours absolutely will not poo on the potty & it is driving me batty! Changing an 18mos old versus changing her feels like I’m changing a GIANT. But I love her zest for life & try to cherish the simple, silly moments & realize she has to use the potty someday…right? 😉

  3. I love that recipe for 3. My daughter is a recent 3 year old and it is definitely a different phase.

  4. Love this!! I have three year old triplets and they are all so wild. They are funny and great, but boy it is a lot. I love how you can relate. I really do not remember my older boys having so much energy and wildness as this trio. Thank you for sharing.

  5. That sounds like a good recipe for three. We just left three and entered four. I’m hoping it will be just a little bit easier. I know each age has it’s blessings and it’s challenges. (But a little easier does sound nice sometimes!) 🙂

  6. I love this. Short, easy-to-remember things like your “recipe” are really helpful to me! Now what’s your recipe for two 2yrs and under? 😉

  7. Thank you for the recipe, love to read you, but I have been so busy that I hardly ever have the time.

  8. Three is fun and way more fun than 13 or 16 or even 18. Sometimes the best way to deal with the bad stuff is ignore. It might take a lot of ignoring, but eventually if he gets no attention for bad behavior he might stop. No promises. Just make sure you leave the room to laugh 😉

  9. I always thought three was more difficult than two….but before you know it he will be a teenager and won’t be saying and doing all these entertaining ( tiring) things so try to enjoy as best as you can! 🙂

  10. He is hilarious!

  11. I love the 3rd year of each my girls. I was quite sad when they turned 4. The cute things they said and the cute dimples still on their hands.

  12. I really needed the laugh this post provided! I think of my twin nieces – 5 1/2 years old – and the words they use in sentences (but really, who taught them to say camouflage correctly?) It’s amazing how kids pick up use of humor and all the rest.

    I think you’ll like this link:

  13. I LOVE starfall!!!

  14. This is so wise and such affirmation to hear other moms who are experiencing the same things I am! Although my three and a half year old is much easier right now than my 18 month old who is like a mini-tornado every waking minute!

  15. I’m curious about what you mean by “I just can’t let myself slip into a pattern of managing bad behavior.” Can you elaborate? (Or maybe you posted on it before, and can point me there?) I have a hard time remaining positive with my two these days, especially when their behavior is making it hard for me to stay calm and sane.

    • What I mean (and I might have not worded that perfectly) is that I try to recognize those times when I am falling into a negative cycle. So for instance, Silas is acting out a lot and my first reaction is to just manage him–just get him occupied in whatever way is easiest (Starfall–it’s a learn to read website, was the example I used in the post) so that I can function (homeschool, do housework, nurse the baby, etc.) But it’s far better to get myself back on track by doing something together with him during a non stressful time when I can just have fun and enjoy him. The more important piece though is to do a better job of planning ahead for his needs rather than wait for him to start his antics for attention.

  16. so sweet (and thank you for the sweet note in the mail earlier in the week…as soon as I saw the sticker on the envelope I knew it was from you…..)

  17. wonderful. now what about 7. lol

  18. Loved this!!! They are so funny and fun.

  19. Oh, Silas and my Luke would get along PERFECTLY. Is it just me or do the toddler years get harder the more you have? Thank you for the reminder of how good they really are!

  20. Your three year old sounds like mine. It is so easy for them to get lost in the middle. I have five total and we have to intentionally sit down with each of them or plan dates with them to give them the attention they need.

  21. I laid him down in the (small, nearly empty) church parking lot because he is too big to be changed in the van. I can understand how you might think otherwise, since you haven’t seen the interior of my van or ever changed Silas’ diaper.

    • When I saw the queries about why you would change him in the parking lot, I laughed! My three year old is FINALLY potty trained, but if I had to change him, there would be NO room on the floor of the van. Way too much junk. Thankfully, the 11 month old is still small enough to fit on a seat.

  22. He sounds like a riot! Where did he come up with those gems? No doubt, his siblings inspire some of his humor, but his timing is brilliant! I don’t have any kids, so I love hearing stories about the funny things that other peoples’ kids say and do.

    • He’s the funniest of all our kids. He is constantly making us laugh while simultaneously turning our hair gray!

  23. I am headed toward mothering my second three yearold in a couple weeks. I find three to be tough, but hopefully it will be easier now that I’ve done it once before…or maybe not. 🙂

  24. My sister is a Montessori teacher and she said those are her absolute favorite ages to work with. Three year-olds are pretty amusing in general, but some are real characters and grow up to be more so. My #6 was a very needy baby – cranky and always needing to be held – but now he is a very pleasant 12yo, always happy and interested in the world around him. My husband said to him one day, “It must be nice to be you” and he paused, thought and replied, “Yup, it is!” It’s a relief to have some offspring not loaded with angst.

  25. They *are* absolutely hilarious at this age. And they ask the most profound questions without even meaning to. Love them.

  26. That kid is a riot! I don’t know how you’d be able to keep a straight face with him. Thanks for sharing some humour!

  27. My 3, almost 4 year old is the best thing in the world. Hilarious, endearing, helpful, independent, but still cuddly. I am cherishing it at every moment. Soaking it up.

  28. What a lovely post. Thank you Silas for brightening my day 😉

  29. My little 3 1/2 year old is my first boy and he is IDENTICAL to Silas. There are days that I just don’t know what to do with all of his craziness and energy. I was truly beginning to wonder if it was typical boy behavior or if my boy was just insane :p Seeing your post gave me a huge sigh of relief knowing that my sweet but crazy boy isn’t so off after all. Thank you, thank you for this! XOXO

  30. Sounds like good advice. DD will not turn 3 until June, but it will be a big year, especially with the start of pre-school. She already knows all her capital letters, so although she rarely uses a computer, thanks for the Starfall link. Any suggestions for teaching / learning lowercase letters? She’s already notice the difference when looking at the words in books, especially in large font sizes like on title pages. Thanks. (sjn821 on Rav)

  31. From birth to 31 years old [that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far] three is by far my most favorite age!

  32. The cigarette butt quote! I can’t stop laughing! 🙂

  33. That was my favorite age – 3 to 4 years old. I just love how their minds work!

  34. You are so smart to write down those funny remarks of Silas! I used to do that with my two children, and now, at fifty, they love hearing all the adorable things they said. I only wish that I had saved daughter Yvonne’s letters home after her marriage. They were so cute and hilarious.

    Your website is a delight! I look forward to it every day. Thank you for taking time, Ginny.

  35. I laughed out loud at Silas’ quips. He is funny indeed!

  36. that is wise to give him a bit of one-on-one time. one of my dearest friends who has boys finds that this can really help when they suddenly are a bit out of character etc. Of course 3 is 3…. praying for you! and those are such cute things he has said! 🙂

  37. I really needed this today. My old recipe for a 3 wasn’t really working anymore and I needed to make so I need to make some adjustments here. 🙂

  38. I was a nursery manager before I took early retirement, the 3 and 4 year olds were my favourite group lively but so much fun with so many amusing sayings.

  39. OH MY Gosh – – – so funny! I needed that!
    And I am so glad that co-op is treating you well.

  40. Three is my absolute favourite age. I miss having a three year old around here. But they just grow up….and that’s that.

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