“I don’t like it. I don’t want to be three.”

True to form, the sleepy-eyed babe woke to the newest birthday with the same reluctance-bordering-on-outright-rejection as with the birthdays prior. At least this year her living companions knew better than to rouse her with the insipid birthday tune of the commoners. If she wanted the song, she would instruct them accordingly; unless and until, mum for them all.

It is no small burden, the constant training in more responsiveness, less over-the-top enthusiasm for virtually everything. Really, this bunch is a fascinating case study in the deleterious consequences of unchecked optimism.

Starting from “no” was her organic disposition. When they wanted it badly enough, whatever it be, they’d learned to make their case accordingly.

To her delight, and theirs quite clearly, a softening to “yes” was often negotiable. Except in situations involving new, odd looking/smelling foods (“nash-tee!”), any allegedly-edible fish not preceded in name by ‘gold’, even the smallest droplet of water touching her head, and any activities which in any way woke her before she was good and ready.

“‘When I’m good and ready,’ that’s her motto,” she’d heard them joke among themselves. She wasn’t entirely sure why this amused them, but she ordered them to stop talking nonetheless. And no laughing. And for the love, no smiling eyes beseeching her to join the Glass Half Full Team. Truly, this group.

Then again, there’d been some murmuring about presents, furtive sneaking from one room to another. It’s not like she enjoyed crushing their dreams.

Maybe if someone would rock her for a little bit—silently, no eye contact—maybe then she could steel herself for the whole celebration thing, pedestrian though it was certain to be. Yes, rock her just like this.

And perhaps if there was a yogurt drink proffered, but only if served with a crazy, curly—not straight, not bendy—straw. And do not let them forget the prioritized straw coloring order: green, then orange, then nothing else can even conceivably do so don’t bother.

Every day, with the repeated lessons in the importance of minute details. Perhaps if they got up earlier, or she later, they could better reconcile the proper ordering of yogurt drink, straw, and fruit selections/rejections before she arrived on scene?

Presents, though. And the sudden reminder of the cupcakes she’d seen stored just maddeningly out of reach in the fridge, next to a pitcher of coveted lemonade.

She turned her head to nestle under her mother’s head, as a conciliatory sigh escaped her. She needed these tall people. Liked them even, felt herself warming dangerously to the point of admitting such.

“I’m not two,” she whispered. “To-day I am three.”

It was good to let them have that moment.

She might even let them sing that song later.

Depending, of course, on what straw they chose for serving her lemonade.

She could be three. Très three. The Threest of Threes in all the land.

Once she was good and ready...

Shelby Slawson - attorney, mom, writer, and ever-aspiring trophy wife - is a member of the E-T’s community columnists. She can be reached at shelby@slawsonlawfirm.com.