Monday, July 12, 2010


Le Petit turned three today.

Three years ago, at approximately this time of night, I was worrying what the next hour would bring and what the next twenty years would bring, and I was pushing hard, apparently without making anything move forward into the future.

Today we took out the baby book, and I showed le Petit a picture of me with a round belly.

"See, that's Mommy, when you were in my tummy. You were itty-bitty then."

I turned the page.

"And then, three years ago today, you came out of my tummy. See, here we are at the hospital." That babyhood seems long, long behind us now.

Le Petit has grown into a little boy overnight, or perhaps over the last few weeks. I don't notice the changes until they're here. Maybe the transformation happened during my trip to Seattle. Maybe its still happening now, restricted exclusively to the days when I'm at work. Or maybe he's doing all his growing up at night, tucked into his new "big boy bed," curled up and dreaming against a wall of pillows. Wherever or however it is happening, he's growing by centimeters and by complex sentences behind my back. The pediatrician informed us that, according to the French growth charts, he has the height and weight of a four-year-old. His verbal expression is more sophisticated every day. And my husband noticed yesterday that we've hit the "whys."

Except that why, in our household, is still exclusively "pourquoi."

I may change my mind in six months, but right now I'm thrilled to have reached the whys. Bring on the endless interrogations, the chains of questioned cause and effect that will lead me to drag what little I remember of history and physics from the depths of my brain! Bring on the "Mommy, I've been wondering..."! I've been looking forward to this for three years.

This morning, for the benefit of my husband (translated into English, for 90% of le Petit's remarks are still in French):

"Why are there thunderstorms?"

My husband: "Because a mass of warm air meets of a mass of cold air."

Le Petit: "And why does a mass of warm air meet a mass of cold air?"

And for me, this evening:

"Why is the frog fountain [at Versailles, one of his current obsessions] turned off?"

Me [forgetting that the frog fountain still works, as in Louis XIV's time, without electricity]: "Because the frog fountain takes electricity and water, and we turn it off at night to save both."

Le Petit [remembering that electricity is generated by wind turbines, another one of his current obsessions, and gesturing to an imaginary mountain]: "Why are there wind turbines up there, la haut?"

Me: "We build wind turbines to make energy for lights, and music on the radio, and fountains, and other things."

It went on, the conversation circled around wind turbines and fountains and monuments, then settled into a bedtime story, and finished in a monologue that we listened to over the baby monitor as le Petit drifted off into sleep.

I know every age has its challenges, but I have a feeling that I'm going to dig three years old.


Aubergine Kenobi said...

Joyeux Anniversaire le Petit! How time flies doesn't it? We're haven't hit the "whys" yet over here, but I've had a preview when suddenly C started asking "what are you doing" on an endless loop even though I was still doing the same thing (like changing his sister's diaper), cute and a little bit annoying I have to admit! Anyway I hope le Petit's 3rd year of life will be full of laughs and happy memories!

Mom in France said...

Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoy it and the big milestone of starting school! I'm loving 3 for all the independence Boo has now and his ability to really express himself. Of course, I'm adoring LG's one-year mark as well - so nice to have a snugglebug to counter the "I can do it MYSELF" of Boo. :-) Enjoy!

hush said...

Happy Birthday!!!! Congrats, Maman, on three wonderful years (and a complete baby book - I'm impressed!!)

Jac said...

Happy birthday! We've hit the "whys" recently too (almost 3) and I am digging it as well. If I've reached the end of my rope, my answer is "why do you think?" - I've received some great responses from that one.

How did Le Petit cope with your absence?

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

Thank you all! And @hush, don't worry, the baby book is far from complete. It's on my to-do list for "sometime before number two arrives" (yeah, right!)

Melba said...

This is the first time I've visited your blog and I just have to chime in here.

I hate the whys.

We've had them for well over a year. And now we are the point of habitual why's. That's where Rosie asks why when she already knows the answer, just because it is habit to ask why after every thing I say.

At least half the time she asks a why question, I say "I'm not answering that Rosie." To which she says (you guessed it) "Why?" and I say "Because you already know the answer and you shouldn't keep asking me things you already know."

I hope they whys in your house don't become so annoying. And have a good vacation!

Keith said...

This is the first time I've visited your blog and I would like to add a thought.

I have two daughters one 23 and the other 16. It has been a long time since the "Why" stage at 3 years of age, but rest assured the "Why" stage will come again during the teenage years.

Enjoy the "Why" stage for now. However I will look forward to your article about the "Why" stage during the teenage years.

Enjoyed your article.

Keith Martin

caramama said...

Happy Birthday, Le Petit! July birthdays are totally the best! ;-)

And let me just tell you how awesome the 3s can be. I am constantly amazed at all the things my daughter can do now, what she can understand and her level of communication. It's really really incredible!