You're three today!! No longer a baby or a toddler, but a big bad "preschooler." It pains me to say that my "baby" is three. It does. I had to hold back tears when I realized one of your birthday cards this year was made from the same paper I had used for your birth announcements. It's an emotion only another mama could empathize with. Of course I'm happy that you are healthy, and growing, and every day you surprise me with something new, but a part of me will always think back to when you were a newborn, soft and new, then a gurgling baby, and a toddling tot. I've loved you so much at every stage in your life its sometimes hard to see them go. Its amazing to me that you could change so much and yet still be, irrevocably, you. You're still that sweet, girly, stubborn person you were when you were a baby.
You still love animals, great and small. This year you've decided that bugs are included in this category and instead of screaming, you now coo and sigh over them. "Awww Mama, dat fly is nice! He's so nice, he sayin' 'Hi Parker!' " "Aww Mama, wook at dat ant, he crawlin' on me. He tickles! Hey ant, stop tickling me!" Your aunt has declared that you will be an animal right's activist when you get older, so strong is your passion for all things four (or six or eight) legged.
We had a "Pixie Picnic" for your birthday this year to combine your love for all things tiny and all things fairy. You've always been drawn to Tinkerbell, and its one of the few movies you'll sit all the way through. And you are obsessed with all things tiny. Doesn't matter what it is, if it is tiny, you love it. Some of your favorite "toys" this year have not been toys, but those tiny styrofoam birds they sell in the floral department. You carry them gently everywhere. They sleep with you, eat with you, drive with you. For Easter your Nanny gave you two tiny feathered chicks in a wire basket originally intended for decorative purposes. You talk to them through the wire, carry them around the house, and feed them bits of your sandwich. It doesn't faze you a bit that you can't take them out. For your birthday you received a plethora of tiny toys and you were so excited about them I caught you at 10:30 last night still playing with them.
You've started a new habit where you whisper to yourself. We can't figure out whether you are talking to someone (imaginary friend?) or just to yourself. You asked me today what was on the plate I was holding and I said, "Potatoes." You said "Oh, potatoes" and then you whispered "potatoes" When I said, "Who are you talking to? Why did you whisper?" you just looked surprised that I had heard and shyly said, "No one." When you're playing by yourself, you're constantly whispering. Whether you are doing the dishes at your play kitchen, playing with your dollhouse or tinkering about outside, you seem to have a constant dialogue going. At the beach I caught you wandering around whispering to the seaweed. I love that you have such a rich imagination and its always amazing to be reminded of the inner lives kidlets have apart from us.
You are still fiercely shy. You have gotten better when it comes to individual people, warming up quicker than you did in the past. But crowds of more than three people still freak you out. We couldn't sing Happy Birthday to you at your party. When I even suggested it to you, you immediately panicked and covered your eyes and cried. You opened your presents for everyone, but the second you realized all eyes were on you, you were out. Your shyness is random, one minute you're talking to a complete stranger, the next you're too shy to say hi to an auntie. I know better than to try to force you, but I hope you grow more confident soon, I hate to see you so distressed.
I relearned this year how futile it can be to try to force you into something. We tried to potty train you earlier this year, using the same time-tested methods we used for your brother. We had early success, and then it all went downhill, till finally, we threw in the towel. A few months later, with all the stress gone, you simple picked out some undies you wanted and we were done. A few "naked" days and you had the hang of it. A friend asked how we did it, and I had to confess we did nothing. No books, no special potty, no treats or threats. It was your decision, and of course we were thrilled and did a lot of happy dances when you succeeded, but ultimately, it was all you. Looking back it seems so obvious that you just weren't ready. You hear over and over that kids will do things when they are ready, but it is so hard to "live" that. Potty training was a great reminder to me that I should trust you sometimes and let go.
You love books, you love "reading" to me, you can recognize all the letters of the alphabet, you can count to seventeen. It should also be noted that you learned most of this just by watching your big brother. You and your brother always blow us away with how much you retain and know. You recognize and can name more species of animals than I can count. You also know and ask by name for more cheese's than any other kid I've ever heard of (which is such a cruel irony for a babe who is lactose intolerant). Its not, "Mama I want some cheese" its: "Mama, I want some gooouda." Or brie. Or cheddah. Luckily you seem to be tolerating more so I've been able to indulge you a bit.
This next year is full of exciting things for you. I'm nervous and happy and excited to see how you tackle preschool and all that it entails. I love you more and more everyday, and every time I see your golden curls and turquoise eyes I'm blown away at how gorgeous you are. You've brought such light and joy to our little family, I can't ever imagine life with just one kid.
We love you so much,
Happy Birthday Squirrels