The last time that I get my lazy self over to my church small group (hey, back off, it's winter!), I spend about half of the time calming down Super Preschooler, who has a desperate need to be the sole owner of the Cinderella dress-up dress. I spend about 25% of my time making sure that Super Toddler isn't sitting on babies, and about 2% of my time discussing the book. The remaining 23%, I spend watching the thirds in the room.
Our small group contains 3 third children; Super Baby, Wonderful Baby, and Amazing Baby. There is something really special about third children. Firsts are such steady, natural leaders, and seconds are spitfire rebels made to challenge the rules and change the world. But thirds have a peacefulness to them that reminds you why you had children in the first place. OK, that might just be me because I spent the morning cleaning toddler crayon creations off the wall. Point is, thirds are zen-like little angels that belong on mountaintops somewhere. You see, even allowing for the uniqueness and variety of all children, thirds have the advantage of being that magical number 3. I have spoken of the magic of 3 before, and my feelings have not changed; it is truly a special number. I mean, look at this:
This is a third.
Watching the thirds during our small group is a lesson in Ignatian indifference. (What? I might be lazy about going, but I always do my reading.) Each one functions in what amounts to a tornado eye; placidly picking up toys only to have them snatched away by the older ones. They register these thefts with the most benign gazes, watching the frenzy of their siblings in mild bemusement. They have mastered Buddhist non-attachment in the same amount of time that we have spent worrying about attachment parenting; all three could be the next Dalai Lama. OK, not Super Baby. Not because she is female, which is apparently not an impediment to Dalai Lamaness, but because she has a slight temper and really likes to eat sausage. The thirds seem to float within their tornado eyes; calmly making their way over trucks and puzzle pieces, only to teleport on top of tables and under shelves when we aren't looking. Their goodwill is infectious. Amazing Baby is undeterred and completely cheerful in his repeated stealing of Super Baby's bottle; he also happily tears paper snowballs off the wall and presents them to his mother. She accepts each one with a happy "Oh thank you, Amazing Baby!" while rapidly scanning the room for tape. Super Baby contents herself to wander the room like an adorable little Pong ball, bopping and moshing off toddlers, her laughter and resilience totally intact. Wonderful Baby is nearly otherworldly in his patience, gently pondering the lego rain as Super Toddler dumps an entire bin down on his head.
This is a third.
Thirds are special people, Readers. I should know, I was raised by two and with one. Now, me; I am full-on oldest, with bossy boots and an exact way that I like my kitchen cabinets to be arranged. Plus, I am only girl oldest, which is pretty much the worst kind. My mother is a third; the youngest girl and the third of seven. I know that long-time readers are old friends with my mom by now, but I never tire of talking about her. Among her numerous gifts (which you can read about here, and here, oh, and here), my mom has this amazing ability to discuss things like abortion, war, parenting techniques, religion, grammar, politics, and who makes the best chili, and still remain friends with whomever she is disagreeing with. It is a thing of beauty to watch her defuse conversational bombs with aplomb, and no, I have no idea how she does it. If I did, I would steal it and make a run for political office as fast as possible; do you have any idea how fast stuff would get done? There would literally be nothing left to complain about. OK, well, I imagine we could still fight about who's chili is the best; that one is never gonna die.
This is a third, holding a first. Notice how calm and serene the third remains,
even in the face of the first's scowling firstness.
My father is also a third; OK, well, technically he shares that honor with his twin. But, again technically, he was born like 10 minutes first (in the backseat of a car, while the doctor was driving, going around a curb, but that is a different tale entirely). He shares my mother's ability to defuse conversational bombs, and I do not think I have ever since him yell in my 35 years on earth. He has a pretty scary "golden stare," so I guess voice-raising was never needed. My father has an uncanny ability to be able to talk to anyone about anything. Example: Awkward Dad met my parents quite early on, as I was living with them as the time. Within their first meeting, my father and Awkward Dad discussed medicine, television, plant genetics, baseball, and world cuisine. Among other feelings, like annoyance that we weren't yet leaving for the movie, this connection of theirs brought on a calm sense that this might actually be the one. Because, let's face it, life is pretty boring without some issues; I like mine in the form of paralyzing self-doubt and a rock solid Electra Complex.
This is a third,
hiding in the backyard from a first and a second who really want to play tag.
Youngest Uncle Awkward is a third. Age and birth order aside; in my books, he is absolutely, unequivocally, totally, and completely number 1. Now, he might not have floated through childhood in a silent and peaceful tornado eye, tales of his early fits are legendary, but once they figured out that autism diagnosis and got him into school, his thirdness took off. My brother has won about a million medals from the Special Olympics, but ask him which one is his favorite and he will pull out this green participant ribbon that he got the year he was disqualified for touching the wall. Or not touching the wall. Whatever it was, it doesn't really matter, but it resulted in his favorite one (because it is different from the rest of the gold and silvers ones) and my favorite life lesson ever.
This is a third.
Thirds just look at the world differently. Firsts want to win the race, seconds want to fix the race betting pool, but thirds just want to run. And sometimes just sit down in the middle of the racetrack to feel the wind on their faces, as everyone else whips by. Thirds are peacemakers, thinkers, dreamers, and true aficionados of life. They are thoughtful kind friends and extremely patient teachers; that they make good parents goes without saying. You want a couple thirds on your superhero team, that is for sure. I mean, come on:
This is a third.
Did someone say there were thirds of clam dip to be had? Catch ya later, Readers!
Don't blame me. I'm a third; we sleep a lot and Mommy talks too much.