By DR ANDREA BONIOR
Many of our friends, happy in the lives they have with two kids, are nevertheless entertaining the idea of adding a third child to their brood.
Having pushed through the heart of that particular dragon with three kids in a four-and-a-half year span (whether we’ve survived is still being medically investigated), my husband and I are often asked what our take is.
We’ve decided to spell out the differences between two kids and three in a handy-dandy list for your reference; feel free to hang this up by your bed to consult in times of weakness. (And do parents of four, five and six — and more — have it exponentially harder than we do? Of course. But we can’t even fathom those situations without crawling into the fetal position. And that’s not great for typing.)
1. Cleaning. Parents of two kids may often experience the unfortunate sensation of not being able to clean up as fast as the mess is getting made. This “treadmill” effect is unsettling, and leads to feelings of abject helplessness as toys, clothes and books pile up out of control. With an additional child, however, the mess and filth will take on an even more sinister life of their own, with many unknown objects somehow being unearthed. A typical day’s debris will now include not just toys, clothes and books, but toys, clothes, books, used napkins, Band-Aid wrappers, raw meat, medical waste, 77 yards of crumpled Scotch tape and a rusted, crumbling earhorn.
2. Bedtime Stories. When snuggling in to read a book at night, two children can each acquire a comfy spot adjacent to the parent and the book. With three children, one child will always be left out. This brings about a battle not unlike Ultimate Fighting Champions, as the warring factions jockey for space through any physically violent means necessary.
3. Money. Having three children will cost approximately 1.49752 times as much as having two children. Does this make any sense? Not in the least. Are these numbers the result of rigorous mathematical inquiry? Of course not. (We had to sell our calculator to pay for the third kid’s shoes.)
4. The “Parental” Bed. Yeah, we know, we never should have let it get this out of hand, we should have stuck to the “No kids ever in our bed” rule night-in and night-out. Our exhaustion won out, however (see “SLEEP”) and now we have a nightly struggle with the reality that not even a king-sized bed will prevent the onslaught of three interlopers’ elbows, knees and feet poking rhythmically, like frantic Morse Code signals, into our internal organs.
5. Triple Relationships. No one ever seems to discuss this, but it’s a biggie. When you have two children, there is one relationship between them. One. Easy peasy! When you have three children, it doesn’t just double — it sails right over to three. (Count ’em. We’ll wait.) That’s three dyads going at any one time; three intricate emotional terrains; three possible grudges; three possible prank wars; three possible fisticuffs; three possible long, drawn-out retaliations after one person deliberately farted on one other person’s science project.