Jason Offutt

December 1, 2017 – Our Toddler just turned three. This is normal for a parent who is not 52 years old. What is normal for a parent who is 52 years old is visiting their children at college.

Fifty-two is a weird age. It’s too old to have a toddler and still three years away from getting the senior discount at McDonald’s. Which brings me to a problem about senior discounts; why aren’t they given by places we might really visit, like our local tavern?

The Toddler kind of snuck up on our family. And by “kind of” I mean “ambushed” and by “snuck up” I mean “because I had a vasectomy in 2009.”

If you’re not doing the math at home, this means I was five years into my self-imposed exile from offspring production when my wife announced she was pregnant with Baby Number Three. Don’t think that didn’t raise questions in our house, like why? how? and shouldn’t you be the one sleeping on the couch?

It took two days before the doctor could tell me one in 4,000 vasectomies reverse themselves. I’m just lucky. That’s what he said. What I heard was I’m a superhuman member of the X-Men and have mutant healing powers at best, or I’m the manliest guy out of the 4,000 closest other guys at worst. I just assumed that’s what he meant.

Now the Toddler’s three. It’s amazing what kind of transition occurs in three years. When she was born, I was 49; now I’m 20 pounds heavier with thinner hair. I’m Homer Simpson with less jaundice.

Her transformation was much more positive. In three years, she’s gone from a bubbling goo machine to a walking scream factory that can count to 10. She can also work electronics better than I can.

And she had to have a birthday.

Parents can sneak a lot of things past their children, like the convincing claim there’s no more candy in the house said through a mouthful of chocolate chips or hiding that “we’ll go to the park later” actually means “go play in the backyard while I have a drink on the porch.” None of this works when it comes to birthdays.

Even to small children, birthdays mean things, six things specifically: cake, candles, presents, more cake, manic stress and Daddy crying in the corner.

We had all those things on her third birthday. Luckily the party was at Grandma’s house so I didn’t have to clean up.

Presents are always a problem. What kind of present of substance could we recommend people buy a three-year-old? Broccoli’s a great choice, sure, but she doesn’t like it as much as her favorite TV show. Her favorite TV show, however, involves talking trucks and is too annoying for a long-term toy commitment.

My wife’s aunt from New York asked what she could give the Toddler. All my wife said was, “No presents. Just donate money to your favorite charity in her name.”

That’s cool.

My daughter’s present came as a thank-you note. The gift, to a baby who arrived to unsuspecting parents by a less likely method than being struck by lightning – was to Planned Parenthood.

I’m still wondering if I should take that personally.

Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for the Apocalypse,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.

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