You turn three today. Finally. The question we’ve been asking ourselves these past few weeks: How is it that you’re only turning three? It felt like you’ve been there for awhile now. In preschool, you’re the only two-year-old in the three-year-old class, and your teacher’s remark to me the other day didn’t surprise me: “She’s the youngest one here, but she knows more than most in class.”
Maybe it’s a second-child thing, forever trying to play catch-up with an older sibling who could always do more. You don’t know that you can’t always do what she does, like jumping from the 7th step on our stairs into the bean bags below with the big kids, but you try anyway and miraculously escape unharmed. Perhaps it’s not that you can’t. It’s that you probably shouldn’t. “She can do it!” Your sister urged, and I countered, Not yet, she’s too little, except you had already proven me wrong.
I wouldn’t, couldn’t accept that you could do more because I think my problem is that you’re my last baby. At three, you’re a baby no more, but I still cradle you in my arms, I still gnaw on your cheeks that have now been chiseled by passing time, and I still call you my baby, even after you correct me, “I’m not a baby anymoah; I’m a wittle gal.” Oh, but you’ll always be my baby.
I love, love, love that you continue to lisp and have trouble with “r”: “Don’t woo-win (ruin) my dweth (dress)!” Your butchering of the language is a way for me to hold on to your babyhood, and it brings me untold joy - after weeks of asking, “Is I three yet?” you finally declare, during your birthday party weekend, “I is three! Dem is coming to my befday pawdy (party).”
(And here are a few pictures from said party)
the sky was a threatening grey, but it didn’t rain – whew!
apparently, in these parts, no party is complete without a pinata, so when in Texas…
it took many, many tries and a grownup’s help
the candy frenzy
Where was I? Right. The funny things you say, particularly your out-of-the-blue statements, like when you turned to Little Miss and said: “You my sista; I like you; I think I’m going to keep you,” or how you don’t say sneeze, you say “bleshyou” like “I bleshyou’d into my arms, mommy”, probably from hearing all those bless you’s after sneezing that you think that’s what it’s called. It also amuses me how your life is lead by your nose as you sniff the air and say, ‘I smell sumping (something),” and you follow that scent like a little bloodhound, especially when it’s “sumping yummy.”
I am so thrilled by your enthusiasm for food, harvesting our first tomato from the garden and eating it straight off the vine, or rubbing your belly and enthusiastically announcing, “Mmm...I love cock-a-mole” when I make guacamole for dinner. You certainly have a thing for avocados and tomatoes, but your unabashed declarations for the things you adore cracks us up. But then again, why not passionately proclaim your favorite things? Your zest for life and living is contagious; we find ourselves wanting to do everything we can to make you happy because your joy sustains ours and stretches it further than we had imagined for ourselves.
But that’s not to say you’re an easy child. At three, you’ve already pushed your limits further than your five-year-old sister had, even at her age now. Rules are mere suggestions to you. We will say, don’t do this, and you’ll look us in the eye and do exactly that, while watching us watch you. It’s amusing to see that look of tentative defiance on your face, the one that says, I wonder how far I can go before I get in trouble, but, of course, it’s also extremely frustrating and even scary when it comes to your safety. You sometimes only learn from experience, after shedding tears from the pain of going too far, and it scares the hell out of me, knowing that we can’t always be there to save you.
On most days, however, you’re pretty cooperative, saying “okay, mommy” this and “okay, daddy” that, which absolutely melts us, but the imp in you also enjoys being a contrarian, like when you stubbornly refuse to insert 13 in your numbers when counting to 20: “10, 11, 12, 14..”
“Thirteen” I correct emphatically.
“No! No! I want to count it my way,” you assert. “11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 42, 46,” and you break into triumphant giggles.
As difficult as you can get sometimes, it’s still a small issue because the biggest part of you is your heart, and it dwarfs everything else about you. You always want to make things right; when your sister is throwing a tantrum about something she wants from you, you often give in to appease her. Not because you’re afraid, but because you really just want her to be happy.
Like the other day, when after the hibachi restaurant presented you with a birthday ice cream and song, Little Miss was upset she didn’t get her own treat, and you consoled her: “It’s okay, Little Miss, don’t cwy. I love you. When it’s your befday next time, you can have ice cweam too okay? And it will be all better.”
It was so incredibly sweet of you that it brought me to tears, but that’s not new; you’ve always been that way.
You’re a lover and a giver, always ready to put your arms around anyone who seems sad, even when they don’t ask for it; I can’t remember how many times you’ve held me, my large body incongruously nestled in your small arms, when you sensed I needed it. I could feel the pain or stress dislodging from my body and disintegrating with your gentle touch.
Always full of love and wacky cackles - not girlish giggles - you are the goofiest of goofballs, the kindest of souls. Your compassion and selflessness, especially at this age when kids are expected to be little a-holes, often astound me.
You’re also full of ideas: “I have an idea! How about a pool cake for my pool party?” you offered excitedly, just three days before the event, and we had to scramble to find you one because it was a holiday weekend and the bakeries near us were completely swamped. So we resorted to Plan B. We purchased a store-bought cake (because making one while trying to unpack our house full of boxes to get ready for the party would’ve been impossible), and your daddy flexed his cake-decorating muscles and fashioned the pool on the cake after ours, just for his baby girl. (See? I’m not that only one who calls you that.)
It took a little more effort and ingenuity, but making you happy is always worth it because you do that for us every single day, just by being you. You make me laugh and you make me cry in all the best ways.
Happy birthday my sweet little sprite, my Pickle Baby Purple Bubble Pop. You are only three, but already quite the “wittle gal”. I am so proud to be your mom; it’s a privilege and an honor to walk this earth with you.