We've been spending a lot of time with friends lately - long summer days and sleepovers at night. Mostly, because of his age, Finn is tagging along with Greta's friends. They are usually great about including him, but sometimes it gets a little rocky:
Overheard during a playdate with Greta and two of her friends, who are 8 year old twins - Luke and Sarah*. They are having races outside on the lawn:
Luke: "I win! I win! I'm the fastest one!"
Greta: "I came in second!"
Sarah: "I came in third, but at least I didn't lose!"
Finn, his face a crumpled mess of disappointment: "I losed."
Luke: "Its okay, Finn. It is because you're three. I'm almost 9, so of course I'm faster than you."
Finn: "I slow. I so, so slow."
Sarah: "Don't worry, Finn - I couldn't run this fast when I was three, either."
Greta: "It is because you're legs aren't long enough to keep up - its okay."
Finn (exasperated) : "But.... But.... But my legs are as long as they supposed to be!"
*not their real names
Greta and Finn are hanging out with 9 year old Zak, and 7 year old Abi. I'm reading in the next room, and my ears prick up when I hear this:
Zak: "So that is why there couldn't be a tooth fairy."
I peek around the corner, and the younger three are looking up at him with wide eyes.
Zak: "Because, like I said, my friend Elizabeth found the little pink container the tooth fairy leaves her money in .... it was in her Mom's drawer."
Greta: "Maybe the tooth fairy leaves it there? You know, to use when she leaves the money?"
Zak: "I dunno. But when my friend Sean lost his tooth? At a friend's house? The tooth fairy didn't even come. So I don't think the tooth fairy is real."
Greta: "That is an easy one - the tooth fairy only comes when you are home. You're supposed to keep the tooth and put it under your own pillow. So the tooth fairy is REAL."
Zak: "And there are lots of kids who say Santa isn't real. I've been thinking about it a lot. I mean - anyone can eat the cookies, or leave a note. But I know Santa is real because each year we leave carrots out for the reindeer, and every year a reindeer takes a bite. Its not people teeth marks in it, either."
There is silence, as the kids absorb this life altering information. I'm wondering if I should step in and distract them.
Finn (emphatically) : "Santa puts da toys IN the pwesents!! HE IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO DAT!!"
That seems to settle the matter for the moment, at least.
Finn is still licking his wounds from the races on the lawn. Clutching his blanket like Linus, he shuffles onto my lap, and sighs.
Finn: "Momma, I slow. I never win."
Me: "You are the fastest three year old I know!"
Finn (sighing): "I don't wanna be fwee any more."
Me: "I wish I was still three. Its a fun age."
Finn: "You wish you were FWEE? Why?"
Me: "Because three year olds can run fast. Do you want to race?"
Finn: "I not going to win."
Me: "Lets try."
We race across through the living room into the bedroom. I'd like to say he beat me because I let him, but it wouldn't be true.
Finn: "I winned!"
Me: "See? You are really fast."
He thinks for a moment. "But you're 40. You're 'posed to be slow."
I'm tucking Finn into bed. It has been a long couple of days, hanging out with older kids. Greta has a friend sleeping over, and as is our tradition he sleeps in our bed, and we have our own sleepover. As he is drifting off to sleep he says quietly:
"I the littlest, Momma."
"Yes, sweetheart, you were the youngest one there today. But you're my big boy, you know that, right?"
He smiles, his eyes closed. "I know dat. And I'm bigger den da two year olds."
"Yes, you are."
"And I faster, too. I can beat dem in a race."
"Yes, you can."
"But I never going to call them small. Because some day they will be big like me."
"Yes, they will," I say, but he is already asleep.