In one month, you’ll be three years old. I’m so surprised as I type that, because it doesn’t seem like that can be real. The other day I was looking at you and I had the weirdest moment where I couldn’t understand how you are my daughter, and I’m your mother. It all just seemed too impossible to have you, a person who didn’t exist three years ago, right there in front of me, throwing a tantrum because I was trying to finish dinner and wouldn’t let you climb on top of my head.
You’re a really good tantrum thrower, and you feel it’s necessary to release your venom on us at least once or twice a day. You have the scariest scream I’ve ever heard, like you’re having your fingernails ripped off one by one, and you have an angry dance. Your Daddy and I are completely bemused when you start one of these. They can go on for 20 minutes, which sadly is almost the full length of our dinnertime these days, and we have no clue what to do for you. You just need to get it out I guess, because once you do, you’re back to yourself, smiling and chatting with us over salad. It’s actually kind of creepy, how fast you turn back into yourself, like nothing was wrong to begin with. We’ve started calling you “Dr. Jekyll” and welcoming you back into reality when one of your tantrums is over. You grin and say “I gueth I wath thleepy and hungwy.”
I spell it that way because I am over the moon for your lithp. I know one day you’ll be able to say your “s” sounds, but for now just keep rockin’ the “th” loud and proud, Baby Girl. When you talk, it’s the best part of my day. You tell stories about your day and you open your eyes all wide, shake your bangs out of your eyes, and use a lot of “THO MUCH”es and “WEALLY, WEALLY”s. Hearing you tell a tale is like listening to myself at your age, I’m sure of it. The exaggeration is strong in us, Boo Boo. The best is when you tell a story and add a little half chuckle to the end, complete with bang shake. It’s like, “And then my fend (friend) LO-ITH (Lois) and my fend FANK-LIND (Franklin) did the pebble work with me (chuckle). It wath WEALLY fun.”
You pretty much love everyone. You call everyone your “fend,” even if you just met that person. “That girl ith my BETHT FEND,” you told me one day after encountering a girl who was also washing her hands in the bathroom and not saying a single word to her. You also call Daddy, Brother, and me your fend. “My fend Daddy ith putting thome gath in the car?” “Where ith my fend Noah?” You truly love your “fends,” and you are so happy to see them. You ask for your friends by name, and if I let you know we are going to play with one or more of them your whole face lights up. “Yaaaaay! I LOVE my fend Baby Jamth (James)!”
You play so well with friends, but you also play well by yourself these days, which is a huge change from before you were in preschool. You used to require me to entertain you constantly, but now I hardly ever worry about you. You’re usually in front of our bookshelf or on the couch with a pile of books, which you “read” out loud to yourself, or you’re playing in your play kitchen or with one (or several) of your babies (Big Baby, Tiny Baby, Baby Doll, and Rosie). Your brother presents nearly your only challenge as you play or read contentedly, because he doesn’t understand why you wouldn’t rather be paying full attention to him. He goes over and steals a baby or turns the page on your book or draws a line on your artwork, and you scream at him with such rage that I’m just waiting for him to melt into a puddle of hot lava.
Of course, that’s just what he wants you to do, because any attention you’re giving him is good, even if that attention is you destroying him, Jedi mind trick style. The two of you can drive me up the wall with your fights (aka him annoying you, you letting him know how annoyed you are), but I know how lucky I have it at the end of the day. There’s no one you look up to and love more than Brother, and there’s no one he will defend faster than you. A while ago, we went to an indoor playground with some friends, and I was struck at the way you two were inseparable, even amongst your dearest playmates. You followed Noah around and when you wandered off he found you, and the two of you just hung out together. It was magic. Now, if we’re out and I see one of you but not the other, all I have to do is ask where your sibling is and you both always know, almost telepathically, where to find each other. I’m grateful that even with all your fighting, you and Noah have finally learned to play well together. If we don’t see you for half an hour on a Saturday morning, I’m not worried. You’re probably just playing “family,” a game you both invented where you are one of several pairs: two moms who are going out for coffee with your babies, a mom and a dad going out to a restaurant with your babies, he’s a dad and you’re his kid, he’s a dad and you’re his kid who’s sick and apparently you two are Native Americans because he has to go out foraging for wild game with his bow and arrow.
At almost three, you’re still doing scary and dangerous things just like you were at not-quite-one. You still have no regard for things being too old for you. Today I had to monitor you cutting a block of cheese with a sharp knife because you took it when I wasn’t looking and I was terrified to try and take it away from you for two reasons: a) obviously I didn’t want to accidentally cut you, and b) did I mention your tantrums?? This past weekend you climbed with two five-year-old boys (one was your brother of course) up a 20-foot treehouse, then climbed the safety rail once up there and grinned over the top of it, a SNEEZE away from falling to your doom. You nearly gave your Daddy a heart attack, you should know. When he yells at you it’s because he loves you, just sayin’.
You love Frozen, like almost all kids your age, but you also love My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Annie, the Lego Movie, Big Hero Six, and pretty much every single other movie you’ve ever seen. Nothing brings you the same level of joy as me announcing to you that we’re going to watch a movie together. You also love taking walks and sometimes insist upon them in the evening, but you nearly always give up halfway home and stand in front of Daddy’s and my legs and whine at us “I wanna hold you!” Please see paragraph two for a description of how you will react if we refuse. You hate being woken up from naps, but when we let you sleep as long as you want you’re awake till 10pm. You still want to be rocked to sleep, which is maddening. You love to eat, are pretty good at trying new foods, and are generally excited when we sit down together for a meal.
In fact, your excitement is one of my favorite things about you, Baby Girl. You’re oh so dramatic and when you’re angry you’re not afraid to let everyone around you feel your wrath. But when you’re happy, it’s so pure, so light, so contagious. Your brother is so much like your dad, hardly getting excited for anything, even a giant stack of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. But you are so much like me, and together we will stand firm against those two Eeyores in the house! A few weeks ago, we went to the Chattanooga Aquarium for the day. You ran past us to your brother, who was standing apprehensively by the tank, watching jellyfish, and I overheard this guy behind us laugh to his girlfriend “That little girl is like ‘This is the best day ever!!’ and that little boy is like ‘Is this…cool?'” Your daddy and I laughed about that for a long time because we couldn’t believe a complete stranger summed up your two personalities in one sentence. You’re excited about friends we’re going to see, excited about what we’re having for dinner, excited about what activity we’re off to. You’re excited when it’s a school day, excited when it’s not. Your enthusiasm is like a breath of fresh air, and it’s always worth a laugh to see you open your mouth wide with joy, raise your eyebrows till they disappear into your hairline, and positively quiver with joy because I tell you we’re going to meet Daddy for lunch (“At a wanch-wit!?!?”).
This afternoon, as I was rocking you to sleep, you hugged me a few times, and giggled, and I relished snuggling with you and giving you a thousand kisses. Your personality is huge, unstoppable, and I can’t wait to see where it takes you.
I love you THO much.