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December 16, 2002 - Monday
At his third birthday party last night, Harry refused to blow out the candles on his cake, recoiling into the sofa when we brought in his cake with three candles and started singing Happy Birthday.

Harry is three today and age and his birthday are concepts I think he is at least starting to understanding. We've talked for a few days about how there would be three candles on his cake, referencing another girl from his preschool class who turned three last month. And, he clearly has some idea of what it means to have a birthday. For example, he immediately knew it was he who we were all singing to last night when "Happy Birthday" started and the cake came in the room. Also, this morning at school he headed straight over to shelve with the basket of special birthday toys and asked his teacher for his chance to pick a special birthday prize (he chose bubble stuff).

Yet, in addition to the thrill and excitement that certainly does come to him with that awareness of his special day, also came a surprising, to me anyway, display of shy self-awareness. He's been nervous at the unexpected before - the doctor's office and the Rainforest Cafe are two recent times - but Harry knew everyone at his party pretty well. In fact, he even was markedly disappointed when Nicole's parents, the people he's spent the least time with, called to say they all might not make it (they eventually did). His mother says she understands about not wishing to be the center of attention and maybe that's just the way it will be with Harry. Still, I wouldn't have expected it with cake and presents. Well, on second thought, he had no trouble being the center of attention when it came to the presents.

And, I suppose, that's what makes the scene with the candles so much more odd. Harry is three today and already a complex character. He's unmistakably smart and serious for his age, losing nothing to his 3 to almost 4 year-old classmates at school in terms of speech and language skills, or his remarkable ability with puzzles. As such an intense kid for three years old, I suppose there are bound to be some introverted tendencies, especially when trodding on unfamiliar ground.

Still, or perhaps especially because of it, I take great pleasure in the reports from a variety of teachers at preschool that Harry is so well adjusted. Admittedly, he plays by himself more than the other kids, but that's easy to understand where he's the smallest and youngest in the group. He does have friends, I know, and he seems to participating more each week and will hopefully gain even more confidence when a cluster of younger kids move up to his class from the toddler room when he returns to school.

I'm not sure why I think this, but it seems to me that the next year will bring more insight into Harry's emerging personality. There's been some of that over the last year and most of it - the being a very good brother, the focus exhibited with things like puzzles, the emerging manners, the fact that he's called a role model for his class in some ways - is very encouraging. But, as a two-year-old, I keep thinking a lot of what Harry does now is more two-year-old trial and error than truly revealing.

Comments, Opinions?