When the person you spend the most time with is three, it also tends to happen that they become your best friend.
You are with them every second of every day.
When you spend all of your time with someone you begin to notice the nuance of a sigh, the preamble to a smile, and the lingering of a disappointment.
They see you at your best, your worst, your strongest, and your most vulnerable.
And since the age of three does not come with a filter, they call you out. On everything.
When your best friend is three, they don’t hesitate to tell you that the green dress you put on makes you “look like a T-rex.” Obviously, you are not leaving the house in that condition.
When your best friend is three, they will help you limit your calorie intake by telling you that you don’t need to eat any more “so your tummy won’t get squishy.”
They can boost your ego with a “you look beautiful” and tell you like it is when you need to freshen up so you “won’t be scary” with a “maybe you need a little make up.”
When your best friend is three you find that your most animated conversations tend to involve the life cycle of bugs or the origins of poo.
They will also help you make decisions with impressive negotiating skills, like when you can’t decide if the afternoon’s activity should involve cleaning or playing. “How about this, Mommy? You can clean and I can play.” Problem solved.
When your best friend is three, you find yourself in power struggles. You want to value their opinion just as much as they want to be heard, but sometimes you still have to the be grown up.
When your best friend is three you might share your day with them even if it involved grown up things like bill paying and phone calls, because even though you don’t want to burden them with grown up stuff it’s ok to let them know it exists.
When your best friend is three you will truly be excited to hear about what the teachers said at camp today and who they played with that morning because you are just as curious about their child life as they are of your grown up one.
When your best friend is three you will sometimes not understand why they are so upset because you thought you were having a great day until the flip switched and you have no idea how to fix it.
When your best friend is three you may find yourself hovering between a desire to let go and a desire to hang on because three doesn’t last forever and fearlessness sometimes presides over logic.
When your best friend is three sometimes you just need a break because you can’t talk to them about all of the crazy that runs around in your mind all day. They are, after all, only three.
When your best friend is three you will find yourself on a roller coaster. I have spent days laughing, crying, being frustrated, being confused and being content.
When your best friend is three you will be surprised when you see bits of yourself in them. Maybe it’s looks or mannerisms or emotions but this little mini me has somehow become both your shadow and your reflection.
When your best friend is three you may find your world is small and large all at once. Because only in the confinements of a three year old world can you be completely isolated from the complexity of adult life and completely in awe of the world’s vastness in unison.
When your best friend is three you know there will be a limit to it. It’s not like when you were in school and you got those BFF bracelets with your girlfriends. (You did this, too, yes?) It’s not like your relationship with your husband that will grow and change and come together and fall apart.
When your best friend is three, you are completely aware that it is fleeting and that one day he may not be so interested in hanging out with you at the coffee shop or telling you all of the details about his day. Even the yucky ones.
When your best friend is three, you know that this part may end. But you hope, so very much, that the parts where he’s honest with you, and loves you, and laughs with you and shares with you will stick around.
Because you know that somehow what you are establishing with your little best friend now will be the foundation for what you will sustain with him later.
And even though you know he will not always think so, you will always think of him as the very best part of yourself.
That is what happens when your best friend is three.
My Best Friend, Age 3