On being three


Leo told us the other day, “I just want to stay three forever.”

Life is good when you’re three. Pretty much you play a lot, eat a lot and then fall asleep about halfway through the second book. The kindness, innocence and curiosity of a three-year-old makes me smile daily. This week Leo gave me all his coins from his piggy bank and told me I could either go buy something or take them to the bank. He asked where babies come from, how they eat when they’re still on the inside and how they get out.

And there’s growth on the horizon. His legs hurt the other night before going to bed. His new haircut looks more like a ten-year-old’s summer buzz. He ate nearly half of a box of cereal for breakfast the other day. And his toddler bed barely seems to accommodate those growing bones.


all images © Tim LaBarge 2009

His desire to stay three reminded me of a tiny outfit someone gave us when he was born. “Why can’t they just stay little?” was etched on the front. Silly, sentimental crap I thought. When I’m doing a load of diapers or cleaning up spilled milk and tossed yogurt, I grumble sarcastically: Why can’t they just stay little? I’ll tell you why…

I’ve always thought each phase of this parenting thing lasted just about the right amount of time. Right when something is getting frustrating, we collectively seem to change and move on. But being three is pretty special and I admit I’m a little sad to see him change so much so quickly. Maybe I need to make a little t-shirt: Why can’t they just stay three?


  1. sweet photos. I agree, 3 is the best for sure…..I wish I could just stop time, but 4 is cool too 🙂 and I bet 5 will be fun as well…..

  2. So wonderfully, and simply put Tim. I experience much of the same every day with my 4-year-old daughter. I had a scary moment yesterday while she was teaching me how to draw stick men; I wondered if I’d really remember those moments when I’m very old. Beyond the photos I’d taken, beyond the saved drawings of stick men. Will I really remember what it’s like to be a father of a kid like that. Or will life change so much into whatever it is at the time that those memories will be over-written by other great moments. At the very least, I always want to remember what it was like to have a 3-year-old…

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