Today you are three. I know I’m not the first mother to say this of her child (indeed, I myself have said it before), but it feels like just yesterday that I was meeting you for the first time, hearing Dr. S tell Daddy and me that we had a daughter. Yet three years have passed and each day since, you have enriched our lives with your beauty, your wit, your essential you-ness.
These days you pretty much never stop talking. Your Oma suggests that you should host your very own talk show for babies. (I suspect Oprah may be interested in the rights.) You chat up passers-by in the grocery store and name everything you see, regardless of whether or not you know the right word for it. (Most of the time you do. Your memory is formidable.)
Your favorite color is pink. You love macaroni and cheese and pizza crust, pancakes and cupcakes (with sprinkles, please). You have seven “guys” and three blankets that are your required companions for naps and bedtime: Doggie, Baby, Soft Baby, Snowy Day, Pink Puppy, Other Puppy, Pink Bear, pink blankie, Doggie’s blankie, and chocolate blankie. (You think the word for “brown” is “chocolate”; you are your mother’s daughter.)
You revel in pretend play, cooking meals in your kitchen and serving up pizzas topped with cardboard cans of green beans and smoothies made of tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken drumsticks. You type frantic, purposeful messages into your “document” on my laptop. (“M-L-Q-P. That spells giraffe, right, Mommy?” “Well, not quite…”) You borrow your brother’s scooter and cruise down the driveway without fear, leaving me in your dust. You love to read to me (Goodnight Moon, the Sandra Boynton oeuvre, the Hanna Andersson catalog) almost as much as you love being read to (Olivia, Mitzi, and Firefly Girl are recent favorites). Some days you’re the pink Power Ranger and some days you’re Firestar. You are quite convinced that you are a Superhero. I think you’re right.
You started preschool this past fall and you love having a place of your own, a realm that you know better than any of the rest of us. Even though you’re one of the youngest kids there, you parade through the halls of your school like you own the place, greeting teachers and older students by name. You adore your teachers – one of whom is the only person who can seem to tame your wispy blonde locks – and telling me in the car which of your classmates was a good listener that day. As for you? “I was a little fussy, but no crying” or, more proudly, “I was cheerful all! day! long!” You are in dance class with a handful of other girls from your preschool room and the 45 minutes I get to spend watching you twirl and climb and plié alongside your friends are some of the best of my week, signaling, as they do, the unbridled, un-self-conscious joy you feel for music and movement and expression.
Though you love your big brothers and often hustle along behind them, you are very much your own girl. You don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed to play whatever they’re playing or build whatever they’re building. Sometimes you fit right into their games and schemes; sometimes you irritate them by inserting yourself too insistently; and sometimes you grow bored of them and head off to play by yourself. (If they can’t see the obvious hilarity in donning every item in the dress-up bin at once, who needs ’em?)
Nothing upsets you more than upsetting Daddy or me. If you accidentally hurt one of us, lifting your head too quickly and bumping us on the chin, or pulling my hair when you’re playing with it, you tear up almost immediately, as though even the chance of falling out of our best graces wounds you to the core. You are stubborn and you are proud. Once you become convinced of a position – whether it’s your unassailable right to a second cookie or a debate over which member of the Justice League can, in fact, fly – you will not yield. Your temper is fierce. You scream and you cry and you run from a room – only to appear again a few minutes later, the storm having passed, ready to tackle the next activity.
I asked you yesterday as I cradled you in my lap, your still round cheek snuggled into my shoulder: “Will you still be my baby even when you’re a big girl?”
“But I’m a big girl now, Mommy,” you laughed in reply.
And so you are, my sweet little lass, my last and forever baby, my three year old wonder.
I love you, my baby, my girl. Now and forever. The most on toast.