When I write about tween friendships, I often think about dynamics. In my last book, The Hot List, I wrote about best friends Sophie Fanuchi and Maddie Chen splitting apart as a third friend, Nia Tate, cycled into the mix. Can three work?
It’s a good question. You know the adage. One’s lonely. Two’s company and three…well, it’s supposed to be a crowd. Is it? In my next book I’m writing about a group of friends–three friends specifically–and how they initially reject the possibility of a fourth. In this case, three feels comfortable, albeit dynamic.
I think three can work. And well, there’s magic in the number three. Things are supposed to come in threes. When you write it’s often suggested you list three things like laundry, dishes and weeding. And in folktales there’s always three wishes.
In my own life, I have four members of my critique group. I’m married to one man (at least that’s what they tell me. Some days I’m not so sure as he’s been known to have at least a couple of distinct different personalities but that’s another story). And I have three kids.
Yes, three. I remember looking at a mom with three children and asking her what it was like to have the third and whether she’d recommend it. At the time, I had two boys who were four and seven. And she said to me, “if you’re still thinking about it, it means you haven’t let the idea of having another baby go. I’d say go for it. Because it will always nag you. You’ll always think, oh, I should have tried. However, when you have three, it tips the balance into craziness.” Then smiled at me because she loved having three but she knew I was headed into the land of crazy/wonderful.
How has my parenting style changed? Well, I’m much more appreciative of the baby-ness of my third. He’s six and I’m still (in private) doing the babytalk thing. For my oldest especially I wanted him to get onto the next developmental milestone. I remember once watching a mother with one child getting a swimming lesson and she watched him so intently as if she were watching a movie about a hero saving a swimmer from a tank of sharks. She looked at her son with such pride and was completely not distracted.
Meanwhile, I looked at that swimming lesson completely differently. It was a break from my care-giving responsibilities. Someone else was watching my oldest (then three) while I could nurse my three month-old and veg or maybe speak on my cell to my mother or sister who was single at the time and would usually be available for my-drop-at-the hat phone calls. I didn’t get this other woman’s unwavering attention.
And then I had my third. And fast forward eleven years, and I get it. Is having three wonderful? Yes? Is my schedule as a children’s author with a packed scheduled and kids with a packed schedule, a little nutty? Yes! Would I change anything? No!
My oldest will be starting high school and he’s so independent. Same with my son who’s starting middle school. But my six year-old. Well, I find that I gush. I find that I am that woman at swimming lessons who can’t take my eyes off my child. With my youngest I am able to see the fleetingness of the moment. And then I realize I need to do that with my older children too. And it reminds me to stop and pause with them (or at least try).
Now my younger sister has three because…drum roll, she had triplets. They’re turning a year this July. And now she’s experiencing the challenges and the joys of three, the magical number.
What do you think of three?