3 Is The New 23
The following was originally published in “The Good Life Men’s Magazine”
We just wrapped up a three-day party for Macklin’s third birthday. About 20 people invaded our home, ate our food and left all of their garbage behind. We had a bounce house in the backyard, beautiful weather throughout, all of Mack’s favorite people… even the Blue Angels came to town to celebrate. It was a wild success.
As expected, Mack raked in a pile of awesome gifts sure to hold his attention until the end of this sentence — fresh cans of Play-Doh, new bubbles, his first pair of rollerblades, some water toys, the obligatory new outfit from Grandma and a pedal-powered go-kart complete with roll cage and emergency brake. As I watched him climb in and take off down the sidewalk, I couldn’t help but envy him.
If it wasn’t Mack’s birthday weekend, I would struggle to answer the Monday morning question “What’d you do this weekend?” So, asking me what I was doing when I was 3 years old would be like asking my current 3-year-old to fix my currently broken water softener. Try as we might, it just isn’t going to happen.
What I can confidently say is I wasn’t driving around in my own go-kart at 3. I also don’t recall ever having my own private backyard carnival with the Blue Angels screaming overhead. No, I remember birthdays at McDonald’s (which was awesome… I still have my special birthday McDonald’s mug) and dreaming about go-karts.
Pondering my son’s charmed life as I snuck an extra-large piece of cake while safely out of view, a thought bubbled up in my mind… 3 is the new 23. At 23, I was just about a year into my first full-time job after graduating from college, which meant I finally had the means to indulge my own childhood fantasies. I didn’t buy myself a go-kart, but I definitely walked out of Best Buy with a new 42-inch plasma screen and signed up for the HD package with DVR as soon as that first paycheck cleared.
My son has never known life in standard def. He drives a go-kart to the park. His favorite toy is also my favorite toy — an $800 iPad. You see, 3 is the new 23. After finishing my cake, I came up with a few more examples…
Had it not been for my cousin, who now takes me elk hunting against his better judgement, the only red meat I would have known growing up would’ve been beef. Macklin, on the other hand, has been developing a discerning palette since the day his first teeth started coming in. He already knows what venison tastes like, along with elk, shrimp, salmon, walleye, crab, scallops, antelope, pheasant, etc. I was in my mid-20s before I even knew what a scallop was, let alone how gross they are.
Mack was barely two months old when he experienced his first legitimate road trip (and still hadn’t celebrated a birthday before he spent his first night sleeping in a tent). Now, by age 3, he’s an accomplished camper who loves to fish, hike, swim in the lake and touch everything he can reach without hint of fear. Come winter, it’ll be season two of riding his very own snowmobile across the frozen lake at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Before the end of this summer, we’re heading to the mountains of Colorado to not only see the Rockies, but also to bring Mack to his first live concert… yep, at Red Rocks. What a time to be a 3-year-old.
Mack’s latest favorite breakfast is a children’s protein shake. It’s true. The body shaming starts early nowadays. Reading the ingredients, his shake is not that different than the ones I occasionally mix up after the gym. He’s not working on bulking up or optimizing his metabolism. He just likes doing whatever I do… and I’m guessing he likes the chocolate flavor and the fact that he gets to drink a “shake” for breakfast. After a rousing hour of Jazzercise in the basement on Saturday mornings, my mom would mix up a shake of some sort, but I don’t remember ever getting a taste. Mack has his own Blender Bottle.
If I were to die tomorrow, whoever gets stuck writing my eulogy won’t be reminiscing about my great wardrobe and natural style. Mack, on the other hand, rocks a hot pink speedo like some sort of tiny French fashionista confidently strutting down the Riviera. When he was 2, he had flowing curls long enough to put into a ponytail. He had a man bun before he was potty trained. Honestly, I think he currently owns more pairs of shoes than I do.
Sure, Mack has things like global warming, that new tax form and the potential of living through WWIII to worry about, too, but it’s hard not to be envious of the opportunities provided to him… as well as his natural instincts that must come from his mother’s side.