“I’m so glad I’m four!” Little Sprout excitedly proclaimed as she walked in an embrace with her big sister.
“I’m so glad too!” Middle Sprout said as she turned, smiling at me. The kids were bounding ahead of me, toward Little Sprout’s first roller coaster. She stood proudly at that measuring stick. Legitimately flat on her feet, but convincingly above the line.
We all knew what she was so excited about. For four years, Little Sprout has watched life happen. From her car seat. From the stroller. From my arms. But most importantly, from the side. She was along for the ride, but unable to be part of it. She has recently been allowed to be thrown in the mix, and it is thrilling to watch.
Anyone who has three or more kids can relate to the drama that plays out in most families.
I brought home kid number one and, aside from the terror of having no idea what I was doing, I had time, energy and intense interest in watching EVERY stage of development and growth. I remember, vividly, filing his fingernails for the first time. Fascinated by the tiny fingers and inexplicable cutting power of those all-too-flexible nails. I documented him sitting up, lunging to crawl, actually crawling, cruising on furniture, taking his first step, learning to eat with a spoon and so many things in between.
Kid two came on the scene, and although it took more energy, I was still able to note the big changes. And although, I didn’t document as much, not as many pictures or journal entries, each milestone was noted and celebrated with her big brother. “Look…she is crawling. Look… she is standing up. Look…she can pull your hair.”
By the time kid three came on the scene, there was just too much activity in the house to notice the milestones. I realized how much I had missed when I saw Little Sprout walk into the kitchen one day, grab down a box of cereal and walk to the cupboard to get herself a bowl. “When did you learn to do that?” I thought.
It’s not that I wanted to miss her milestones, but that is the unfortunate lot of the third kid. The third kid doesn’t get to be enrolled in all the mommy and me classes, or have every moment documented along the way. The third kid gets to go to the activities for the first two kids. They get to take naps in the car and they learn to eat all sorts of places that are not their high chair. They know, at a very early age, what they cannot do…because only the big kids get to do it.
Finally, the playing field is starting to level out. With the change from winter to spring, we have discovered how much Little Sprout has grown over the last five months. She is big enough to ride her sister’s bike now. She is big enough to ride in a booster car seat. She is big enough to ride the roller coaster at the Mall of America. But most of all, she is no longer just along for the ride.