I have two close girlfriends with children approximately 5 months ahead of Will. It is both wonderful and a bit unnerving all at once.
The wonderful part is obvious. Having close friends going through similar ages and stages is comforting. It's nice knowing that I am not the only one going through whatever the current challenge is. It's nice having a bit of a yardstick. Though all children are different and it's best not to directly compare them, it does seem as if kids do roughly follow the same patterns as far as development. It is also lovely to have playmates for our children and to know no matter what house you are at, there will be a variety of age-appropriate toys, a pack-n-play or two, a booster, etc.
The unnerving part is that I also get to see what happens with their kids before it happens to me. Five months is still a pretty big leap in preschool-aged kids, so Will is usually a step behind the two older kids.
At first, I would watch their kids change and think, "Wow, I am glad Will doesn't do that."
And then, five months or so would pass, and he would do that, too.
It works the either direction, too. I will watch their kids do something and think, "Hmmm, I wonder why Will doesn't do that."
Five months or so later, and he does.
So, watching their kids is like watching my future life in about five months.
About a month before their respective birthdays, both of my friends' girls' sleep fell apart. They started waking multiple times a night, fighting bedtime and naps, and having nightmares. I seriously can't remember the last time Will did any of those things. That is, of course, until this past week, when he started doing all of them and I remembered that we were a month out from him turning three.
About a month before their birthdays, both of the older preschoolers started throwing tantrums of gagantuan proportions and it was drama, drama, drama about the tiniest little things. Well, enter Will and tantrums over everything. Everything.
So, yeah, here I am. About a month before he officially turns three, I find myself with a "three year old" in terms of behavior. Now, I have heard from everyone that the Terrible Twos are little league when compared to the hijinks that a three year old brings to the table.
As with most things, however, there is the other side of the coin. Almost-three-year-old Will is incredibly sweet. His spontaneous hugs and kisses are so wonderful. He has so much compassion for a friend that is hurt, patting them on the back and asking if someone could "please get them a bandaid". He loves to "help Mommy" by doing all sorts of "big boy" things. He loves to read to himself and his sister (he has so many books memorized that it almost does seem as if he is reading - he even knows when to turn the pages).
He is good boy - with the attitude of a three year old. And I saw it coming yet couldn't really prepare myself for how it felt to parent a preschooler. It is exhausting on so many levels. I love the challenge, accept it for what it is. But there are moments when I am already counting the days until his next birthday. . . over a year from now! And then there are moments when I want to bottle up the sweetness and save it until I am 103 years old.
In any case, the adventure of motherhood is never predictable. I only hope I am fit to the task ahead!