Conversations With a Three-Year-Old

Have your little ones said anything funny recently? Three and a half is such a sweet age! Toby’s imagination has ramped up so much, and half the time I swear he must see our living room filled with monsters, bears and bearded bus drivers. He cracks us up constantly with the nutty things that come out of his mouth. For example…

“Mama, who is in the living room?”
“Daddy and Anton.”
(Peeking out cautiously.) “Any bears?”

“What you reading, Mama?”
“The Goldfinch. Want to see a photo of the author?”
“Is it a bear?”



“Be fwy-ette.”

We’ll play I Spy in taxis, but he doesn’t quite get how to give clues. He’ll say: “I spy with my little eye…the door handle!” “Is it the door handle?” “Yes!” “I spy with my little eye…the driver!” “Is it the driver?” “Yes!” The game goes quickly:)

Toby has a bunch of alter egos. Whenever he pretends certain things, you have to call him by the corresponding name. Tom is a bus driver. John is a musician. Kevin is a boy with a babysitter. Sam is a chef. Dennis is a dancer. Booliballa is a librarian.

“Where are you going, Mama?”
“I’m meeting my friend to get my toes painted. What color should I get?”
“Light or dark blue?”
“Minivan blue.” (No further explanation was provided.)

One morning, out of the blue: “Are you just a lady with lips?” “Yes.”

He asked our babysitter, “Are you married?”
“So you just like adventures?”

And he’s starting to have crushes!
“Toby, did you nap at school today?”
“No, Mama.”
“What did you do?”
“I just lie there and look at Gabby.”

“Dennis” the dancer! :)

P.S. Toby in conversation as a two-year-old and a (younger) three-year-old. And I can’t believe he was ever this little :)

(Top photos by Julia Robbs for Cup of Jo)

  1. Kristina says...

    my daughter uses different names too. when she is wearing something fancy she is always princess Meme, brave Falk Feather concquers any mean bison or hawk, and recently she surprised us by stating that she is Elvis. she told it first to the postman delivering a package (several times) and he’s been so perplexed, that he replied “sure, I’m Elvis too.” just after he left I managed to pry from her, that it is a character from a cartoon Fireman Sam. so fortunately no reincarnation or anything…
    and as for smart and funny conversatins…
    Gerda always wants hand puppets to talk to her. last time she’s been taking her bath Mouse said: “why are you taking a bath, you’ll get all wet and we would have to let you dry out on the clotheshorse! (fate of all wet puppet mouses)” and Gerda replied: “Mousie , Mousie, you scatterbrained, I’m real!”

  2. We have used BLW with both of our daughters (our youngest is Anton’s age) and it is THE BEST THING EVER. Our oldest daughter has an appetite for everything because from day 1 of eating (about 6 months old) she happily shared in spiced, ethnic and just about everything served at the dinner table. We never dummied down food or pureed for her (bland sounds so boring). Some of her first foods were large chunks of (cooked ;)) meat that she would hold with one hand and gnaw on until juiced had been sucked dry. Or roasted veggies that were long and thin so she could grip them.

    At three she enjoys fish, mussels, salad, brussel sprouts, beets, everything.

    Hope you expand on your BLW adventures! It’s messy – but it’s awesome.

    (PS wrote a post on our experience with it here:

  3. Joanna, I LOVE your “Toby says” features. I really want to know more about his alter egos.
    Special request for a video of Booliballa. ;)

  4. lu says...

    Maybe minivan = medium??

  5. Oh I love coming by your blog and reading about your adorable kids. I can hear the love you have for them pouring out of my screen – it’s wonderful.

    I only recently started following, but oh you make me wish motherhood would come sooner for me :)

  6. oh my goodness joanna that is too cute!! i nearly died. what a little cutie! my nephew who is the same age as toby has a crush at preschool and my sister nearly fell over when he came home and said “mommy, i think ashley is a cutie pie.” the cutest! i just love your toby.

  7. He looks like a sweet little old man when he dances! Adorable.


    I actually started a blog just after my son turned 3 for the exact reason that the things coming out of his mouth were just too adorable and I knew I wouldn’t remember 99% of what he had said later in life. I’ve continued the blog even now that he is 4 and my almost 2-yr old daughter is starting to make brief appearances as well. I hope to continue writing the blog for years to come, as a way to memorialize how they were as young children.

  9. Oh my god, the adventures one is hilarious because in french an “aventure” can mean a love affair! too wise little guy!

  10. “Are you just a lady with lips?”

    I had to chuckle at this one. This sounds like such a fun stage.

  11. Oh my goodness I was cracking up.I love little kid conversations.

  12. Oh my goodness I was cracking up.I love little kid conversations.

  13. I just laughed so hard reading these…so cute!! I have an idea what mini van blue looks like. I’m thinking more 80’s mode though.

  14. Oh Joanna! how sweet! “so you just like adventures”!? ha. love it! it could be the title to a singles dating book.

  15. I was at Target with my 4ish year old and she really wanted me to buy something and I was starting the “we can’t buy everything we want” campaign.
    So I said “Gosh. That costs a bit. Do you have any money?” and she looked at me like I was a complete dolt and said “Mom! I don’t have any pockets!”

  16. Yes, these are so hilarious. Listening at work and laughing out loud. My little girl is 14 months and although I don’t want to speed time along, can’t wait for these funny conversations!

  17. I read this a few days ago, but today has been full of stress so I came back to laugh all over again.
    “Are you just a lady with lips?” Hahahaha

    Love Toby and love CupOfJo. (I must be feeling mushy with valentines so near;)



  18. Omg this is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! He is brilliant! Keep us updated on the new things. Can’t wait for my 6 week old girl to start talking..( I know, could be a while;) lots of love and greeting from Dublin xxEva

  19. it’s such an awesome look into their amazing brains!!
    one of the reasons i started my blog was exactly this, documenting my family’s life. write this stuff down, because you’ll never remember all these cute phrases in a few years.

  20. Aw, this is so precious and hilarious. My favorite line: “So you just like adventures?” perfect! :)

  21. I teach kindergarten and I never tire of the adorable things kids say. These are all so sweet. I’m glad you’re writing them down to remember!

  22. these are the sweetest! “so you just like adventures?” is my favorite. i bet you just want to bottle toby at 3 up and keep him forever.

  23. Those are hilarious! When my niece was four, I asked her why she kept going back and forth to the bathroom. Her reply: “I thought I needed to go to potty, but my booty just doesn’t know what it wants to do!” It was so funny! It actually prompted me to create a journal called “My Angel Said What?” for parents to write the cute things their kids say!

  24. What an amazing post!! Toby is amazing.

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  26. Wow, it was hard to choose my favorite among these GEMS, but I think it has to be “are you married?” (no) “So you just like adventures?” soooo sweet. Off to paint my toes minivan blue, perhaps. I saw a sort of 60s VW-van robins egg blue, I don’t know about you. :)

  27. Wow, it was hard to choose my favorite among these GEMS, but I think it has to be “are you married?” (no) “So you just like adventures?” soooo sweet. Off to paint my toes minivan blue, perhaps. I saw a sort of 60s VW-van robins egg blue, I don’t know about you. :)

  28. Such an interesting and funny boy! Personality out the wazoo. Love it.

  29. I absolutely adore your motherhood posts.

  30. Oh, I just caught up on all these “conversations” posts. So sweet! My little guy is four months shy of two and slowly adding words day by day. It’s so much fun (especially because he seems to make up his own words for things too)! I hope you continue to post your conversations with Toby. These definitely made me smile.

  31. My older son is 4 and i have a lot of stories to tell, but i am forgetting them, i should write them!

    Last week he made me a party in his bedroom with lots of hearts, it was my Free Day !!!

  32. hilarious!! Go Toby!!

    This is my 2.5yr old…

    Him, totally out of the blue: “:’m not a horse.”
    Me: “Since when?”
    Him: “Since Thursday”. (pronounced Tursday).

  33. This really made me laugh and reminded me so much of my oldest, Josh (5) when he was that age. So great when they start role-playing. It just get’s better and better! :->

    I love your blog and have been reading it for about 3 months. Now I’m on maternity leave again I have more time to spend reading blogs (my littlest boy is also called Toby!).
    Well done and keep making me laugh. P.S. I loved your blog entries about breastfeeding – it really gave me confidence this time around. I found it so hard last time but am really enjoying it this time!

  34. These are great! Our son Ever turns 3 next month. For a year I’ve been using Tumblr to record his quotes and our funny conversations. It’s amazing how quickly these moments slip away from memory. It’s been really nice to have a way to quickly document what he says. Ever Said

  35. Hilarious!!! Made my morning….i have a 10 month old and i am so so so looking forward to having these kind of conversations with him! Thanks for sharinng so much of your family with us….really helps to relate :)

  36. Lovely…

  37. Lovely…

  38. I absolutely adore these little conversations you post, and I’ve definitely read them more than once. They bring such a smile to my face. :)

  39. 3 and 4 are great ages! You just reminded me of my son, my first born, who had 2 imaginary friends, Barno and Barniveau, the latter lived in Bordeaux. Whenever we would pass a phone booth (yes, a long time ago) he would call them and have the longest conversations with either one of them, we would wait and listen, cracking up! AH, that was such a long time ago! He’ll be 12 next month… nostalgia!

  40. I too have a 3.5 year old, and the other night at dinner, she randomly asked, “do you think Chad (her preschool friend’s dad, and a family friend) is wearing undies right now?” This came a day after this conversation: we drove by a bakery at night that had it’s lights on. She asked if they were open, I told her no, but the bakers are there making bread. With a very serious look she asked, “do you think they have pull-ups or undies on?”

  41. Please please please never stop posting these conversations!!! I love them so much.

  42. Please please please never stop posting these conversations!!! I love them so much.

  43. adventures! oh Toby, you’re a wise one :)

  44. This was just the best

  45. Booliballa is a librarian. Ah man, that made my day. What a cool kid.

  46. I completely agree! I’ve been saying 3 has been the best age. My son’s birthday and christmas this year went to the next level. Our supper conversations are hilarious. Their little minds are working a mile a minute and not stopping and it is fun to watch!

  47. These are incredible…thank you for sharing your joy with us, Joanna! I laughed so hard. Have followed you for years. xx

  48. My 1 and a half year old niece (with whom I have a special bond and whom I miss very much) called me yesterday and told me a very intense story without a single distinguishable word. Her mother was in the background laughing and asking if she could have a turn talking to me, to which Norah would very emphatically react and then resume her story.

  49. I’m belly laughing right now! Toby is so precious! Never grow up, Toby!

  50. Toby is so sweet! Jo – are you enjoying the Goldfinch?

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  52. “Any bears?” Hehehehehehe.

  53. What a fantastic age! A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days with my nephew who is almost the same age. His big thing was being characters from shows and books he loves. He would decide on a character and not do anything specific to act like them, but when you would call him by his name, Ben, he would say “but I thought I was being Thomas (or lightning, or little rocket, or dusty crop hopper)” We could go hours without discussing it, but as soon as you said his name it was the same thing: “but I thought I was…” So funny.

  54. Your son is TOO cute. I look forward to reading your posts everyday! Love your blog content :)

  55. this is the cutest thing I have ever read!!! I love the “mini-van blue” and asking the babysitter if she likes adventures because she’s not married.
    too. darn. cute.


  56. Oh my, that is too too cute! I remember when my brothers were that age. I miss being a child, and having that light feeling forever and ever, dreaming and letting my imagination run wild. Thank you for sharing! The laughs were priceless!

  57. Thank you for the laughs! I’m a long time (Australian) reader, but first time commenter.
    One of Toby’s quotes reminded me of one of my kids. I’m a mum of 3 little boys and when my eldest was 3, he said
    “Mummy, I don’t think I want to get married when I grow up. I think I want to be on the TV.”
    I responded, “Ok Charlie, but you know you can get married AND be on TV if you want to..”
    Pause. “Oh – I thought being married was a job.”

    I love little people.

  58. I LOVE this! Toddler conversations are the best! My entire blog is devoted to the ridiculous phrases that come out of our three year old’s mouth!

  59. this post made my day! toby is so adorable!!

  60. So cute! Isnt it amazing how entertaining they can be?!
    My son cracks me up on a daily basis.
    The latest one: after he has done “# 2’s” I get him to bend over so I can wipe. (
    The other day as I was wiping he put his hands flat on the floor so I told him that was a move that I did at my yoga class. His reply: “Well I hope you don’t do it with your pants down Mommy” !
    That had me howling with laughter for days!

  61. Your son is absolutely adorable! He has quite the personality

  62. That is the cutest – and Toby has some pretty sweet dance moves!

  63. My son will be 4 in April so I can totally relate to the humor that we hear on the daily. love it

  64. Minivan blue… LOL

  65. Hahaha, that is awesome! My son (3 and a half) also says “otay” and “chitten”. His name’s Oscar so he says “Ostar”. A few of my favourite conversations of late have been:

    I told him that I was the boss, he responded with: “No, you’re a bossy boots!”


    he saw a photo of me heavily pregnant and was thoroughly confused by it. I explained he was living in my belly at that time. His alarmed response: “You ate me?!”

  66. As a librarian, I’m glad he has a librarian persona, especially with such an awesome name!

    I was visiting my 5-year-old nephew recently who kept changing into costumes: the Hulk, Batman, a ninja, etc. Then he came out in a total mish-mash of items and announced, “I am…NOT someone that you know!” It was the funniest thing ever!

  67. My daughter turned 3 in Dec and oh my goodness the things she is saying crack me up. The most recent one was No, I’m in charge of this house and I am Queen Elsa. ” Umm yah attitude check pronto!
    I guess I also must do a lot of counting and praising as well as I overheard telling her stuffed bunny “I’m counting to 5 and you better be ready!”

  68. So funny, minivan blue. When my nephew was little I couldn’t get him to try Egg Nog. Finally exasperated I asked him why he wouldn’t at least try it, his reply “cause I don’t like egg and I don’t like Nog” End of conversation. My husband and I also convinced him he had the magic power to guess any number we were thinking.

  69. This is so sweet! Good one for the memory books. This is the sweetest (and most bipolar!) stage. So fun.

  70. This post is so unbelievably sweet! I love that Toby’s musician persona is named John, because my husband John is actually a musician by trade.

  71. Haha, I literally laughed out loud at the adventures conversation with his babysitter, and he’s quite the dancer! My best friend has twin 4 year olds, and the little boy always asks about minions in the way that Toby asks about bears -“what are you doing mummy” “I’m going to see my friends” “are they minions?”

    The London Project

  72. Cute! Love the dancing video!

  73. My just-turned-4 year old went on forever the other day about being a “power plant cockatiel” that breathes fire. :p

  74. Aren’t they amazing?! Tonight my three year old crawled around the house pretending he was our dog (who is currently an ocean away from us). Recently he led a playground full of kids on a rocket launch to Neptune. (Seriously!!) Every day I am in awe of his imagination and purity. And your little one is adorable!

  75. Adorable!!! Children are such sweet souls. Thank you for sharing.

  76. He has more rhythm than I do! I also write down the things my 2.5yo says – they’re too hilarious to forget :) I thanked her for helping me at the grocery store the other day and she said nonchalantly, “no problem. That’s what friends are for.” (She must’ve gotten it from a friend or TV…that one was new to me!

  77. my daughter just turned 5, but I miss her little 3-4 yr old alter ego stage- hers was called “Kinsey” and she’d have us say “introducing the amazing Kinsey” and she’d come out of her bedroom looking so proud :) Such fun!

  78. Hilarious! I love the minivan blue comment.

  79. “Minivan blue”. So funny!
    So when you guys take a taxi, do you have to bring a carseat for him? I’m actually genuinely curious! In our city, everyone basically drives cars so your backseat is filled up with carseats for little ones. :)

  80. alicia marie, i can’t get enough of these baby accents. they just slay me :)

  81. melanie, that is the sweetest thing i’ve ever heard!

  82. very cute, indeed! My 5 year old told me last night

    “Mom, I love you more than fish-sticks and ice-cream. But not more than S’mores. That would be impossible”

  83. OMG dying that video is so cute.

  84. haha! wonderful! my 22-month old surprises us constantly. we’re expecting another baby girl in july, so we’ve gotten into the habit of asking our daughter what we should name her. so far, she’s suggested “doo doo”, “blue” and “jesus.” (we are not religious people, so who knows where that came from)

    also, everything is gross as in “that’s gross.” my socks, her broccoli, her bedroom curtain. when my husband asked her if we should name her little sister “gross,” she said, “that’s possible!”

  85. It is all so true. I have a 3 1/2 yr old boy and you could pretty much insert his name into ALL of these conversations. So funny how two little guys who are the same age can sound so similar! My Colin loves to play “I Spy”. It kills me when he says, “I spy wit my wittle weye.” I could play that game all day just to hear that over and over!

  86. So funny, you cannot make this kind of stuff up :)

  87. I love three and four year olds! My favorite age. :)

  88. I want to meet Booliballa the librarian. What a fantastic imagination that kid of yours has!

  89. So, so funny! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been a little sad lately that our baby is growing up so fast (he’s 8 mos.)and your post reminded me that there is so much to look forward to.

  90. This week we went for a very long drive to the beach. It was nice to have my brother-in-law there as my husband and I are out-numbered to our three kids. Having him there meant I was able to hand off the baby and walk hand in hand with my toddler. Ask him questions about the day and also get some love.

  91. SO adorable!!

  92. I’m pretty sure your kids are the greatest. These posts make my day 100% better.

  93. my daughter is 3 and lately she’s been asking, “are you a girl?” and when i say yes, she says “no, you’re a mommy!”

  94. my daughter is 3 and lately she’s been asking, “are you a girl?” and when i say yes, she says “no, you’re a mommy!”

  95. Such a sweet post Jo. My daughter, Dorian will be three late May. She loves to tell me what her special dragons are doing all the time. Their names are Blue & Pink and we take them everywhere!! She puts her chubby little hands together and ‘carries’ her dragons to school, the grocery store, etc…and she will tell random strangers to pet Blue & Pink. We get some strange reactions at times…
    Have a great day!

  96. Aww, love that little belly, haha!

    Such a funny little guy. My fave is definitely the “Are you married?” “No.” “So you just like adventures?” exchange!

  97. Ha, these are so great! We’re at the same point with our 3 1/2 year old during I Spy, too. Also, he is into making “gooby traps” around the house. I tried to correct him to say “booby trap” and then decided his version is probably better. :)

  98. Hilarious! Especially when he asked his babysitter about being married!

  99. Ha, these are so great! We’re at the same point with our 3 1/2 year old during I Spy, too. Also, he is into making “gooby traps” around the house. I tried to correct him to say “booby trap” and then decided his version is probably better. :)

  100. So funny!
    My son just turned 4, last week he asked if there was bunk beds at University…
    He also said : This music is so beautiful it makes me wants to sleep.
    Watching Bugs Bunny, he said: The rabbits they love carrots and we humans love chips!

  101. So sweet! When my sisters and I were young, my mom used to write down the funny things we said in her yearly planners. We’re in our twenties now, and every so often we’ll pull them out and laugh until we cry. Keep documenting it! :)

  102. hahah! He’s wayyyy too cute!

  103. “So you just like adventures?” Haha!! That gets me!!!

  104. This has been your funniest post! Love his imagination! I especially love his conversation with his baby sitter. Although I am twenty-seven, my nephew and niece don’t qualify me as an adult because I’m not married yet!

  105. Oh my goodness! Adorable. Thank you for sharing. I love Dennis the dancer!

  106. Oh my goodness, I love these conversations and his dancing in the video! The hat he is wearing and the snapping of his fingers is too cute. Toby is adorable!!

  107. This is hilarious! Toby is so adorable. Your article makes me think of a friend who once told me she loved doing babysitting because being with kids is like being around tiny drunk people.

  108. Awww! He’s fronting his voiceless velar stops (K sounds). Totally adorable.

  109. These are so cute! Thanks for sharing. I loved reading this. Having conversations with little ones is the best.

  110. pearl, my two year old, may have a crush on “Dennis”. We just watched his dance 5x and she giggled every time!

  111. I love these posts! They always make me smile. What a cutie.

  112. Toby aka “Dennis” has great rhythm!

  113. jenifer, yes! i got essie midnight cami :)

  114. J, yes!!! dun dun is still toby’s absolute best friend. and now he uses dun dun to negotiate. he’ll say, “mama, dun dun says it’s ok if i have a cookie.” i’m like, oh, ok, then, if dun dun approves, we’re all set!

  115. These are adorable! My 18 month old says o-tay also! I love it! I secretly hope she never learns to say O-kay! I have started writing down funny things she says in a five year journal. I figure it will be funny to look back every year and see how she changes!

  116. I guess I should start to see my late 20’s singlehood as an adventure! Thanks for the re-framing, Toby.

  117. Bahahahahahah. “Any bears?” Toby!! You’re THE BEST! Never change.

  118. that is hilariously adorable! and now i’m curious. did you end up getting your toenails painted in “minivan blue” ?? or at least a shade of blue? haha :)

  119. Thanks for sharing this, Joanna. Really made my Monday! Toby is too cute and what an active imagination he has! HE must keep you guys on your toes.:) – xoxo Donna

  120. Oh, man! He is just hilarious! I loved the comment about having adventures. He’s onto something, maybe! And that dance! Too much.

  121. LOL! Toby is adorable!! Last night my almost 4 year old and I were watching Olympic ice skating and at the end when everyone clapped she looked at me and asked “Are they going to Hollywood, mommy?” lol! Wrong show! Not American Idol!

  122. J says...

    Is Dun Dun still around? These are adorable.

  123. Oh my goodness, that is so adorable! I laughed out loud at a few of those Toby quips. My 3.5 year old son insists we call him “Gorgeous” when he is in one of his alter-egos. And he insists that there are monsters and crabs everywhere

  124. O.P.I. should launch the minivan blue. definitely

  125. omg, this is seriously the first thing i’ve read in my life (i’m 30) that makes me want a child of my own! those conversations are SO adorable.

  126. Thank you for the laughs! What an adorable little guy with a great imagination!!