Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To my son, on his 3rd birthday....

Dear Little Bird,
Three already? How can this possibly be? I will probably say it every year as long as I live, but I simply cannot understand how time moves so quickly and how quickly you change into a bigger someone than I knew just the day before. How can I write all that has happened in the last year when my memory is so weak that it tells me with certainty you were swaddled up in my arms just moments ago? shall I describe you at your third birthday? You are...complicated. I really do enjoy this about you, because it means you are turning into a little person, and not just a baby or a toddler. You have traits that make your personality round and complete, and it often makes me wonder what you will be like when you are grown. To list the traits that (at present) most come up when describing you, I would say (in no particular order) you are: funny (hilarious, really), imaginative, ornery, delightful, intelligent, sympathetic, stubborn, determined, resourceful, pensive, deliberate, charming, and affectionate. (Though I will also add that the inadequacy of this list is really striking.)

I am sometimes surprised or delighted (or driven to the brink of my sanity) at the way you can so quickly change moods. When you and I don't get along, it is almost always because one of these mood swings has overcome you.

If you learned the power of your will before your second birthday, you learned the power of your voice this year. You have learned to sass, and how! Let me say here that many people, myself included, have been impressed by how well you speak, and how well you have spoken since you began. You are ahead of your peers, the charts that say what you should do, and ahead of where your sister was at this age when it comes to your expressive language. Like most two and three year-olds, you experience frustration from time to time. This happens for any reason from not being allowed to do or have something you want, to being overcome with large emotions like sadness or pain. However, unlike most two and three year-olds, you have a rather refined vocabulary at your disposal to use on me for expressing anger, telling the reason for your sadness, and trying to convince others why you are "right."

Again, while I am grateful for the gift of language you have, I am not always grateful for it's outcomes when my two year old can expressly tell me why he should be able to do something, or how he categorically refuses to be disciplined in any way. Sometimes I am delighted by your expressions of emotional depth, and at others even a little concerned. (Happily, there is still plenty of humor to be found in these instances, such as the time you told me while traveling back from Phoenix and stopping at a McDonald's for Happy Meals, "Actually, Mom, I would prefer a Sad Meal."

Or when you looked your Dad squarely in the face with narrowed eyes after he informed you that spitting was inappropriate and told him, "You are not my father." While I smothered my laughter at your far too advanced assault, he simply cocked his head and said, "Hmmm...I thought I'd have a few more years before you started in with that one.")

On the positive side of the language skills, I absolutely relish the conversations we have. You have started to ask why and how things happen, and unfortunately I usually give you answers that are too complicated. This is good though, because then I get to hear your magical explanations of why the clouds really move, or why the sun comes out in the day (it's afraid of the dark). You have also been telling stories for a while now. Your stories have plot and character, and usually are full of Halloween-type characters like witches and monsters and "ghosties." (You love "spooky" stuff and spend all your time at the library each week looking for the books with the Halloween stickers.) You have also entered one of my very favorite periods of language development, the "I wish" stage, where you will randomly tell me things that you wish you could do, like be a racecar, or go back to Disneyland and "ride that rocket ride." I love this insight into your thoughts and imagination.

You know your letters and most of their sounds. You love mixing up letters and telling me what they "spell." You can count higher each day. You like to draw and paint and have discovered the apparently deep satisfaction that comes with using a pair of scissors (so far only on paper and some clothing, but I'm certain your or your sister's hair will find its way between the blades all too soon...). You run, you jump, you climb stairs, you throw and kick balls, ride a bike, fly like a superhero, fall, and wrestle. Sometimes you punch or bite. Often you "karate" and sword fight. This year, you have learned (and take enormous pride in) dressing yourself, how to climb on the countertops, how to use the toilet (though, as in many things with you, sir, I have learned that your ability to do something and your willingness to do so are very often not aligned), how to play with children your own age, and how to stand up for yourself.

You are sensitive. If I snap at your behavior, I can see you melt like a popsicle in summer right before me. If you are hurt, mommy kisses almost always remedy the situation immediately. You sleep hard, making up for all that hard play and big emotion: we must never wake you from a nap, because to do so awakens an antagonizing dragon-child. If we let you wake on your own, even if the difference is minutes, you are snuggly and pleasant and cheerful.

This year, you love Cars, space, dinosaurs, cooking, Charlie and Lola, monsters and ghosts, reading, rough-housing, your sister and baby brother on the way (whom you yell to in my belly), your daddy, and the great outdoors.

And, as always, what I love deeply this year is you: your growth, your charm, your humor, your intelligence, your all-consuming smile, and even your obstinance. You are simply you, and I wouldn't have it any other way, my sweet, hilarious, complicated, boy.

All my love in this year and forever,


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