It’s the three-year-old that really tests what you’re made of.

It’s at the age of three that he discovers that he’s the boss of the house, and if he isn’t, he should be.

He rants and raves and expects his every wish to be granted, but when the parent makes the tiniest request, the child takes on the characteristics of a brick wall or even less subtly,

puts his hands over his ears.

He also knows the importance of language, and how it can be manipulated to avoid communicating altogether.

When you ask him to put away his toys, he says, “Mana.”

When you ask him what “mana” means, he says, “Anka.”

When you ask the meaning of “anka,” he says, “Manisha.”

When you ask him what “manisha” means, he says, “that means the kitty is soft.”

“But what does that have to do with picking up toys?” you ask, your patience fraying.

He looks at you like you’ve had your hands over your ears and says, “Mana.”

Am I starting to sound wise to these three-year-old ploys?  Yes, I’ve been around the sand box a few times.

I travel to the brink of insanity and back each day.

“And back” is the key.

I come back to swing, to dance, to help a small hand plant flower seeds, to jump through a sprinkler, and splash in a four-foot pool.

I come back for the giggles and tickles and hugs.

It’s the love that brings me back from insanity each day, and love that makes me march right into the middle of it again and again.

You haven’t a clue to the extent of your parents’ love for you until you’re holding that child of your own, and you realize that he will never love you as intensely as you love him.

I guess that’s just how it goes—the only way to truly repay the last generation

is to love the next.

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