Baby & Toddler

My 3-Year-Old Ate a Sticker (and Other Ways Having a New Baby Changes Everything)

It’s funny how perspective can change in the blink of an eye (or in this case, 14 hours of labor). Before having my son, I thought my 3-year-old was still a baby. She was so little! She could barely do anything!

But then I had a baby. And when you compare a 3-year-old to an infant, that 3-year-old is like a giant. Not only can she walk, she can run, trip, scrape her knees, and shake it off. Not only can she talk, but she can express an argument as to why she should really be allowed to watch one more TV show. She can open the refrigerator, get out her own string cheese, and pull it into strings. Meanwhile, the baby really just sits there (though he’s an excellent smiler these days!)

But the thing I keep forgetting, now that I have a baby, is that my 3-year-old is not a giant. Not even a teenager. Or a tween, for that matter. She’s just 3. And she doesn’t have judgement.

I’ve learned this the hard way lately. For example, she was playing with stickers and decided to eat one. That’s right. She ate one. Even while her father stood there telling her to take it out of her mouth.

The thing is, with another child in the house, I can’t give my daughter the same kind of focus that I used to. A friend of mine, after having her second child, lamented that she didn’t realize how much of a lovefest she was having with her first child until the second one came along. And though I adore my itty bitty one, I do miss being able to focus on the big girl. The concept of undivided attention no longer exists for us. I just can’t always watch her and see what she’s doing.

I used to assume that she wouldn’t eat a sticker, or put silly putty on the couch, or use her stamps and ink on her face, but as it turns out, that’s just not a safe assumption to make. Because my daughter really is just 3. And she’s still discovering how the world around her works, and I guess that stamping her face is one of the ways she learns about it.

No judgment. But she’ll get it eventually.

Amy DeutschAmy is a Jewish educator and a mom. After graduating from Brandeis University she received a master’s degree at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she was a Wexner Fellow. Over the past 10 years Amy has developed experience in teaching, family education, camp, curriculum writing, and most recently, has begun teaching “Baby & Me” classes.

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