Thursday, June 4, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday, to the Grasshopper

Oh, little bug. You are three! I don't know where the time went, or where the tiny little baby that was forever attached to me has gone. Instead, here is a child, with long arms and legs spilling out of my embraces.

You are hilarious. And weird. And ornery. And mischievious. And sweet. And stubborn. And goofy. And cantankerous. And snuggly. And thoughtful. And smart.

There are perhaps no words that do not, at some point in any given day, describe you. Where I sometimes have a hard time pinning down just the right word for your siblings, for you, I have a hard time limiting the list.

Every since you were a tiny baby, you have had this face that is just a hoot to watch. The emotions and thoughts that run through your head tick across your face like so many frames in a moment of film. It is so easy to read your feelings, see the workings of your mind, as they scroll across your face. The furrow of your brow, the sideways glance, the flick of the corner of your mouth, the flare of your nostrils--all these things happen here and there, every moment across that lovely, remarkably expressive face of yours. Micro-expressions testifying of a storm of thought beneath it all. As you gently move from toddler-hood to childhood, I can see this characteristic begin to fade, and yet I hope that always a glimmer of it will remain.

You are very much the same way in personality as your face is in expression. You are many things, constantly changing things, a wide spectrum of things from this moment to the next. You love your brother and sister with deep affections; moments later you delight in their torment. (If there is a bully in this family, it is most certainly you, my darling.) You lash out as you test your independence to do things on your own; just as suddenly, you are sweetly asking for help. You sometimes hit; you quickly apologize. You claim to be the boss; you are equally likely to tell everyone that you are the baby. In one moment, you smile and laugh; in the next, you weep and gnash teeth. Part of this, of course, is that you've spent the last year being two, but part of it is also, I think, just who you are--I often say that when you do something, you do it all the way. There is no half-heartedness about you. Only fire and ice.

Like your siblings, you are verbally precocious. You talk a great deal and turn phrases in a way we rarely expect. You are an excellent mimic. Though he detests it--and the two of you often find yourselves in a row over the matter--you love to copy your brother. You repeat his words, mirror his play, and follow him around with absolute commitment, even when it leads to him erupting in anger. And oh, how you love your big sister. There have even been times, after sustaining a minor injury or a particularly upsetting loss (in your world, perhaps a denied cookie, or an end to your screen time), where you will choose Ainsley over me for your comfort. And yet, you love them both, calling out their names in excitement every time they come home from school.

Your relationship with Daddy is more complicated. He is a great deal of fun. He's most excellent for playing pretend or getting into tickle fights. But, let's be honest, he's second fiddle to me. Your older siblings never had quite the same kind of favoritism toward me as you do...and it would be dishonest to act as though I don't relish it just a little. You are my "maybe baby," and I admit to letting you get away with more than your siblings, taking longer to say good nights, indulging you in your babyisms. You still take a bottle, because I just can't stand the heartache that comes when I tell you no. You still wear a diaper--because you are a stubborn little beast with zero interest in or currency to convince you to try learning the potty.

Watching you play is one of my favorite things. Unlike your brother and sister, who feel the need to "direct" one another through every line or action of their play time, you play much more spontaneously and amuse yourself with considerable more ease. At times, you have even been toy-less in the car and resorted to making different voices for each of your hands, and then acted out a scene between them. You love to play fighting and ninja games. But you also love to whip things up in your play kitchen, drive toy cars around the house, put Mr. Potatohead together and pull him apart all day, and act out scenes for him.

I think, thus far, you are my most musically attuned child. You insist on a song every night, and nearly without fail, you request "Dinos Marching" (which is a poor, four verse adaptation of "The Ants Go Marching"). You sing along and snuggle as I sing. Another thing I love is that when I make up silly songs about what we are doing (which is regularly),  you love to try to sing along. You easily pick up the note progression and where the song is going, and then watch and listen to pick out the words as they come.

You've been accident prone this year. This year you sustained a couple of good knocks to the head, a nasty burn (as a result of you knowing better and refusing to trust Daddy when he tried to keep you away from something hot), and an eye patch. All of this, I think, is a manifestation of your growing independence, and probably that all-or-nothing tendency you have.

This past year, I left my job managing full time, and though my job was flexible before and allowed us a lot of time together, I am relishing the ample time we have now, the fact that when I am with you, I am WHOLLY with you, without distractions from tenants or phone calls. You've noticed this too, and commented on how you like to be with me a number of times. Those moments are my greatest paycheck. You're my little buddy, and we do it all together: play on the floor, watch shows, grocery shop, sing songs in the car. Your being a "mommy's boy" has, in many ways, made me a "Simon's mommy," but I love the opportunity to be with you, experience your joys and heartaches, and watch you become a whole person.

In some ways, you are a challenge, in others, I feel I parent you with great ease. I love this period of our lives, when you sneak into my bed every night, throw your tiny arms around my neck with frequency, look up at me with constant and unmatched love and admiration, just you and me a while each day while the big kids are away at school. I know it will pass all too quickly, and hope I can tuck away all the sweet moments that make this period of our lives special. I am grateful every. single. day for you.

Thank you for being you, and for choosing me as your mom. I love you!



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