K is three, as of two Wednesdays ago.
She is radiant. And joyful. And independent. And stubborn.
She loves her “friends” (read: any other child within eyesight) and she loves her “babies” (read: any toy animal of the stuffed or non-stuffed variety, some imaginary babies as well, including her imaginary “baby neverbeast” from a movie she watches with grandma). She gets shy and silly around new or unfamiliar people but has become warmer and warmer with her family and does not take nearly as long to get used to someone when they come to the house. She loves spending time with my mother, including their Friday visits to the library, and also loves spending time with her cousin.
She adores being outside. She has the best adventures as she explores the natural world, adventures that sometimes include picking the tomatoes and putting them on the ground so we don’t see that she has picked them. We have gone to a nearby river a few times this summer and she is fearless as she splashes around, throws rocks, puts her face to the water. A gym membership that includes a pool has not hurt her water-loving either; with her float she is happy to swim independently and she gets braver every time we get in the water.
For her birthday, we both took off and surprised her with a boat ride and time splashing in fountains. Stripped to her underwear, running around as water shot up from the ground, she was so free. She collected all the leaves that had fallen into the fountain area and brought them to the table to dry. We stopped for a lunch appetizer of ice cream – because why not – and then it was back to splashing until it was time to get back on the boat and go to lunch. We went light on the gifts because less stuff is always a goal, but we did get her a scooter and little animal dolls for the old-school dollhouse built by the father of a friend when that friend was a child. We had cupcakes on her birthday with plans for more sweets for her birthday party.
K is an awesome big sister and she has been trying harder and harder to engage with J. She likes to try to make him laugh and sometimes likes to give him things that don’t belong to him (or take away things that do). Sometimes she is big girl proud and other times she is little girl needy, and at least some of that has to do with her brother and the responses he might be getting at any given time. She has also taken to wanting more hugs and cuddles than ever before and I think at least a little of it has to do with him, though I also think she is coming into her more in a way that is uniquely K.
Her favorite foods are peanut butter and jelly, noodles (it used to be mac & cheese but she had started asking us to “take the cheese off” before requesting ‘plain noodles”), any kind of fruit, pancakes, black beans, oatmeal, waffles, crackers, raisins, and sometimes chips. Somewhere along the way she realized that we sometimes didn’t ask her to eat things that are “spicy” so she has taken to calling any food that she does not care for “too spicy” to eat. She has developed more of a sweet tooth and will at times try to negotiate getting dessert for eating her dinner, which we sometimes indulge. Dessert can be anything from a cookie to a piece of fruit to a popsicle made from the strawberries we picked in June.
She says the best things. She makes us laugh and she is starting to fully grasp the power in that and in her charming little smile. She tries to explain away misbehavior (and sometimes makes good points). She almost always has a reason for doing what she does, except when she is over-tired or over-excited, at which point she becomes destructive to a fault, eventually needing some space or hugs or both. She also just started getting into asking us fascinating why questions, like “why are the walls so tall?” (referring to ceiling height).
She has always liked music. Over the past year she has moved from us singing to her, to her singing “all by myself – you no sing” to singing together (which is my favorite). She has learned several little poems that she will say for you if you ask (and sometimes if you don’t… sometimes on repeat). She also likes books and reading and has memorized the texts of several different books that we regularly read. We have a book that features several beginner stories and she likes being able to choose a book within the book. The other day she “read” us “The pok.ey litt.le pup.py” and made us smile as she talked about the puppy being “happy as a lark” Many an afternoon or evening when it is time to lay down we can find her with a book in hand “reading” to herself. I love it and encourage it and rarely go a day without reading at least one book if not many. Favorite books right now include Dr. Se.uss, a book that was written by a friend of a friend, and her highlights stories.
K had a birthday party this past weekend. It had a butterfly theme and she was given play butterfly wings to wear. We played butterfly catching games and hung out in the backyard with her aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and a few little friends who are children of our big friends. We ate good food and finished with strawberry shortcake “with strawberries AND blueberries” and chocolate cupcakes with a cherry on top, mini replicas of the big cake she saw at the bakery. She was thrilled to have both to eat.
And for my part, I am amazed that I have been doing this three years. And grateful for (almost) every second. I feel so lucky to have such a neat kid and even more lucky to have the resources I have to be close to the parent I want to be. If I could steal her birthday wishes, I would be wishing for another year of growth and love and fun. Another year to be an awesome kid and to keep growing into whatever person she is meant to be.