We celebrated your birthday this weekend. You turned three on Saturday but because you moved to the Threes classroom in October, you've insisted that you're already three. Okay, we said, we'll celebrate again.
You didn't complain.
You don't complain much. You argue a lot. You disagree, push back, ignore that which you don't like to hear, but you don't complain. You are mercurial and vehement and your smile dazzles with intensity.
You shine it on your baby dolls more than us, sometimes, but I understand the work involved in being a devoted mama, and you are one.
But love, your baby dolls look a little homeless. Are they ever allowed to wear clothes? Take a bath?
You like them naked and you've developed your own distaste for underpants, too. It's a good thing your tushie is so cute but as you plot your Naked World Takeover, let me caution you that past a certain age, not all nudists are as adorable as you.
I love to hug you and kiss you and squeeze you and beg, "stay with me forever!" because it makes me smile broadly to hear your enthusiasm when you say every time no! I can't! You have many places to be and so few of them are holding still or in my arms. Your spirit is adventurous and confident and unshakeable. It's impressive.
Your interests are just wide of girl-conventional, and it's so fun to nurture you through your passions. You've spent most of this year obsessed with firefighters, and we saturated you this birthday with firefighter wonderfulness. You couldn't be happier and you've already spent hours playing with your new fire station and fire trucks and beloved fire fighter figures. If this is more than a childhood fascination, if you aspire to heroism, you certainly have what it takes.
You emulate your big sister whenever you're not purposely antagonizing her and you love your brother with great dedication. You squish his cheeks and call him Chubbers and although I keep thinking you're hurting him, he laughs at you perhaps more than at anyone. He'll be lucky to grow up emulating and antagonizing you.
You love your friends fiercely, from the two-year-old girl you left behind in your old class to the nearly-ten-year-old boy you call Mine! every time you see him or hear his name. And you love my friends, too. You have no hesitation around adults. You'll march into homes you've never seen, find their kitchens, open their refrigerators, and ask them for a snack. You do it everywhere I take you and these adults, once they recover from your gall and your moxie, they give you anything you seek.
You do love your food. You have an unparalleled sweet tooth and a thirsty carnivorous appetite. You'll eat anything if I call it meat, and just meat. As long as I never say ground beef or London broil or skirt steak or stir fry or a large roast or hamburgers, you're there and you're hungry. It's what's for dinner, indeed. And then you always, always justify dessert.
You know I love you unconditionally though sometimes you make the returned feelings quite hard-won. You are a challenge, unpredictable, very loud, astoundingly inconsistent in what pleases you and insanely vocal with what doesn't. I say this not out of complaint, but instead because every so often, right at the brink of what we're sure will set off a meltdown, you'll lucidly look at one of us, shrug your shoulders and say simply, okay. Those moments: we cling to them. Because as much as I have held on tightly and enjoyed the roller coaster ride of getting you safely to age three, I'm just beginning to think there's a rational being nestled somewhere deep inside you. As we shepherd you now towards age four, please know that I say this with great love and respect: that rational being? I'm looking forward to making her acquaintance.
I love you all the way to the stars,