January 7 to July 7, 2014Dear Carys,
I mean, seriously, look at you.
Love this kid, INDEED.
You are three years old.
Like the going-on-your-fourth-year type of three.
You're such a bright, loving spirit (nearly always). You listen well (sometimes). You're kind and sweet and gentle (usually). You're an amazing big sister (usually). You're energetic (always) and silly (always) and so darn smart (always). You're spunky and daring and you Live Out Loud (literally...have you heard yourself scream?), and you're only three years old. What amazing-ness awaits??
We've tried a few free "preview" dance classes (with your "special shoes" [ballet shoes] that, once on, you refuse to take off) and open gym sessions at a gymnastics studio (you love the rings) and you love both. If there's music, you're dancing. If there's a bar, you're hanging from it. If there's something bouncy, you're jumping on it. We got you a trampoline for your birthday and you thought you'd died and gone to heaven. We actually tried a preview dance class a while ago and you were mortified and upset that you didn't have the same "special shoes" as all the other girls, so I sprung for them, and they're well-worn already. We're trying out "official" dance and gymnastic classes in the fall and we'll see what you think of them. I also want to sign you up for karate and soccer and and ALL THE THINGS but I am pacing myself and trying to remember that we have lots of time for all that.
You love sugar - or you think you do, anyway. You're always asking for it, but you rarely finish whatever treat it is that you manage to finagle.
You love to sleep on the floor, as I've mentioned. You love to read. Oh, my gosh, do you love to read. You love camping. You love shopping with me and pushing your own cart. You love spicy things.
You love to color for the five minutes that you'll sit and do it, then you're over it (but I'm so impressed with how you're starting to color within the lines!). You like to draw and are starting to draw recognizable figures - heads with facial features and lines and circles for arms/legs/hands/feet. You love motorcycles and trains and farts and worms and bugs and my makeup and my clothes. You love to dress up. Let me repeat that. YOU LOVE TO DRESS UP. I can't emphasize "love" enough. You constantly have some sort of outfit on, whether it's a princess skirt and tiara or "angel" wings and a giant flower hair clip or a blanket cape and wielding a sword. You are always in costume and always in character.
(I give up on formatting the fricking pictures.)
Sisterhood fits you so well. You're a natural. It actually breaks my heart a little bit, for a variety of reasons. You fall into perfectly into the role of middle child when you're around kids both older and younger than you, but you're not actually a middle child since your older brother isn't with us. But you should have been. Also sad because you don't have any cousins to play with. Because you probably won't have any cousins to play with, at least not for a long time. (Come on, siblings of mine!!!) But you're a great sister. Emmeline just adores you. She looks at you like she looks at no one else, and you're so proud of that fact. Yes, you can be obnoxious and even mean to your little sister - like grabbing a toy away from her, or handling her a little too roughly - but overall your relationship is everything for which I'd hoped. So far. Talk to me in ten years.
You're at the age where you're starting to make real friends (not just ones forced on you by me). Seeing these relationships develop - where you ask daily to go play with Charlotte or "Leela" and remind me how excited you are to swim with Taylor or Annie - is so gratifying. I'm also grateful that most of my friends go with the "hands off" theory when it comes to toddler tiffs, so it's been interesting to see you (and them) develop the skills to work your arguments out by yourselves. You also make friends wherever we go - you're a social little girl and gravitate to other kids, particularly older kids, though you exhibit extreme patience for babies as well and delight in "teaching" them. The big kids, though, are the ones that hold your attention the most. At your birthday party, your best same-age friends were there, but you just shadowed your friend (my cousin's daughter) who is a few years older. There's some serious hero-worshiping happening there.
You're a little bit of everything, full of dichotomies. You love dressing up in long dresses, but rip them off in a heartbeat to climb on top of a chair. Your love playing with your "girls" (your small doll figurines), but you relish digging in dirt with your bare hands and finding worms. You are one of the loudest, most outgoing, friendly kids I've ever met, but in a some situations, you'll hide behind me and not look up and refuse to talk to anyone. Sometimes you'll introduce yourself and immediately start bossing a strange kid around, but the next day you'll hover on the sidelines waiting to be invited to play. So shy, yet so outgoing. So introverted, yet so extroverted. So quiet, yet so loud. You love to lay next to me, but rarely let me cuddle you ("No rubbing my back, mama! Don't touch me!") - although in the week or so leading up to your third birthday, you started requesting cuddles when you were upset. Hearing you say, "Can you cuddle me, mommy?" through tears is just the sweetest and most heartbreaking thing ever.
I need to find a giant tree to knock on, because things are looking up around here. The last couple of months had been some of the most challenging we've had yet, as you tested the boundaries and tried to be in charge of your own life. Unfortunately, as you're only three, I can't actually let you play outside in the front yard alone (and NO you don't want to play in the backyard and NO you don't want me to watch from the porch and NO you don't want anyone else to watch you either), you're often kind of pissed at me and frustrated and disappointed by all these Rules. Rules everywhere. Only one treat a day. Only one movie a day. No jumping on the glass table. No flying your kite inside. No ice cream for breakfast (well...usually not). No painting with toothpaste. No throwing rocks in the house. No no no no. I can only imagine what it sounds like to you. I try my very best to re-word the expectations into "yes" or positive action statements - "Yes, you can throw the rock if you go outside," or "Please use your hands to hug," but I'm still throwing up barriers to you having fun and being autonomous left and right.
I give into as many of your requests as I reasonably can - letting you wear two different shoes, for example - in order to give you some control over your life. But you want ALL the control and you hate that you don't have it. You think you're quite reasonable and persuasive in your arguments, by the way. You're learning the fine art of negotiation and I don't think I like it. Please go back to blind obedience. Ok, hmph, fine, I guess this is all developmentally appropriate and I don't want to raise a child who just blindly follows anyone...except I kind of want you to just listen to me already, okay?
Oh, and also? You cuss now. And it's HILARIOUS. I shouldn't say that, but it is. Because it's cussing the way only a three-year-old can. You know two phrases that are "bad" and if you're mad, you blurt them out, much the same way an adult would let loose a string of profanity. So you yell, "POOPY BUTT! SHUT UP! POOPY BUTT! SHUT UP!" sometimes with a side of sticking your tongue out at me. I've told you that those words are words that can be said in your bedroom, alone, which serves the dual purpose of not banning them and therefore making them more desirable and also lets me laugh my ass off at it. (I know for sure 'poopy butt' came from daycare/school and I'm 99% sure 'shut up' did too. Sigh.)
A huge part of the struggle has been that you dropped your nap a while ago, but you still need it. You need it like whoa. You just don't see it that way, and since I can't force you to sleep (if only parents had full control of the sleep habits of their children - how much easier parenting would be!!!!), you end up not taking a nap most days. This, however, has led to the occasional "fall asleep on the couch" or even "fall asleep on mom" moments, which never happened before. And if we're in the car around the time you used to nap, you will fall asleep. Every time. I may have gone old-school on you and taken you out on a car ride a couple times on days I know I need you to be awake AND happy later in the evening, like on your birthday or on the Fourth of July. You are still sleeping on the floor most days, which is just so weird to me, because beds are so. much. more. comfortable than the floor, but also so familiar, because I fully remember sneaking out of my room when I was little to watch my parents as they watched TV. I just wanted to be with them. You lay down a blanket and your pillow, then ask me to cover you up with your "lellow blanket" and then you play quietly with little figurines or read a book until you fall asleep. Often you'll yell out at us to "Be quiet! I'm trying to sleep!"
Even on the worst days, though, I just can't get enough of you. I cannot wait to pick you up from daycare when you go, and adore the rare one-on-one time I get with you. You are so very funny and smart and you notice everything (which I think is pretty much a toddler's job). You're so incredibly creative, in play and dress and how you interact with the world. You're an achingly beautiful soul and I sometimes catch myself just staring at you, wondering how I got so lucky. (Note: usually these moments are not when you're throwing a tantrum.) The curls at the nape of your neck, the way your lashes brush your cheeks when you sleep, the way your cheeks flush when you're tired. The feeling of your bony, thin shoulders under my hand when you let me cuddle you, your arms with their tiny but strong muscles, the fuzz between your shoulder blades. Just a glance at you pulls at my heartstrings like nothing I've ever known before. The very timbre of your voice lifts my spirit, whether you're excitedly fake-whispering a secret to me, or singing a song at the top of your head, or talking quietly to Emmeline in the back seat of the car. Sometimes, if you wake up early, you climb into bed with us and hold my head in your hands and stroke the features of my face and tell me how much you love me and I literally start to tear up because I think my heart is so full of love that it's leaking out. I so often want to just to scoop you up into my arms and hold you close and stop time for a moment so I can just enjoy you and this hilarious, ridiculous, fun, difficult age as long as possible. I miss you when you're sleeping. There have been many nights when I just want to go wake you up to get another hour of playtime or one more hug. A desire to wake a sleeping child when only moments before I'd been counting down the minutes to bedtime?? What is that?? No one told me about that part.
The TL;DR version of this for people who want to stop now is that my kid says things that I think are cute but that are probably said by kids worldwide on a daily basis. BUT MY KID THO.
December 2014 (apparently I was busy with something and didn't write much down?? I can't imagine what?)
- Christmas program at school where you were a sheep and did a great job, including the classic "wave to mom from stage" thing. Nana, Grandma N, and daddy and Emmeline all watched you. I might have cried.
- Asked if we could keep Emmeline forever.
- You tell me to "make baby sister happy! I no like it when she's crying! It makes me sad!"
- At the hospital, the elevator door closed with you in it (you didn't step out with me like I thought you did) and your terrified cry-scream that immediately happened was the most heartbreaking and scary thing I've ever heard. I started button mashing and luckily the door opened quickly without depositing you on another floor. You jumped into my arms and clung to me so hard while sobbing and repeating "The door closed! The door closed!" We saw a helicopter like two feet away as we were leaving the building, though, so that cheered you up.
- Dad and I took you and your sister out for lunch and you were SO excited to show off your baby sister to everyone. "LOOK! This is my baby sister! Emmeline!" (I love how you say Emmeline - very prounced: EM-uh-line!)
- Instead of just "no, thank you," you say "no, thank you, please."
- We watched "Sound of Music" and you love the goodnight song the kids sing, and make me do the "cah-coo" part with you over and over.
- We watched "Mary Poppins" and you love to repeat, "We are not a codfish," and other snippets.
- You love to pretend to go trick-or-treating.
- All kisses now get the response "I wipe it off!"
- If I ask you to do something you don't want to do, you reply, "I have no hands!" meaning your hands are full. If they weren't previously full, you'll pick up anything within arm's reach to make them full.
- You love to be the patient and have me the doctor and will have me try to fix your broken legs over and over. I'll say you're all fixed and you'll try to stand and collapse on the floor and say it's still broken.
- "I eat my booger!" EW.
- You will dance and sing to anything.
- If I ask you what the name of your baby doll is, you answer either "Cookie" or "Emmeline."
- I showed you pictures of Kate Middleton playing field hockey to explain that princesses can be real people too, and now you love to say how princesses are strong and fast and wear pants and plays golf.
- When we signed you up for tumbling class you were hesitant at first but when asked how a kitty moves you couldn't contain yourself and burst out with crawling and "MEOW!" You loved tumbling class!
- You love picking out clothes for baby sister. "She'll look boo-tiful in this!"
- You regularly do entire scene-by-scene remakes of movies, with the lines and staging down exactly.
- You love to imitate all that baby sister does - sucking a paci, swing, tummy time.
- My uncle passed away after getting hit by a car, and you kept repeating, "A different John [my sister's boyfriend is also John, so the John that died was 'a different John'] died, he got hit by a car, but I'll give him ice pack to make it better."
- One day I told you to hold onto something so you didn't lose it, and you said, "Yes, I don't want it to walk off!" You picked that up from daycare.
- Suddenly, you only want to associate with other girls. You wanted me to go to a female checker at the grocery store, and didn't want to give grandpa a hug because "He's a boy!" Then you were telling me an imaginary story and said you built castles that boys peed in so you built a new castle, but they peed in that one too, and so you built a new castle and NO BOYS CAN COME IN. I was absolutely dying laughing at the story. Luckily, that phase only lasted a week or so, because it was awkward standing in line for the female checker when the male one was just waiting for a customer (I always let you pick out the check-out lane to go to - it's one of the small tricks that makes grocery shopping fun for both of us).
- You love to watch make-up tutorials on YouTube and try to do your makeup like they do, so I'll find you trying to get my make-up out so you can "paint my face like Elsa!"
- Loved watching the Olympics with me and cheering for different athletes. "GO, GREEN GIRL, GO!" You also invited them over to our house after the event: "You can come to our house and I'll give you some cereal and ice cream!"
- After my cousin's daughter got Elsa and Anna dolls, I promised you them for meeting a certain (private) milestone. Little did I know that they were completely sold out EVERYWHERE. I finally found Anna locally, but spend days searching online for Elsa. I finally found it at a Target in Chicago, and a friend who lives there went to buy it for us and ship it here (still WAY cheaper than the prices online for her!). Every day you asked, "They're still making my Elsa? She's coming in the mail?"
- As an adult, words are set, but I'm sure to a child, they're just random sounds assigned to an item, which is why I love it that you constantly are making up words for names and meals. "What's your baby's name?" "Blagadadoo." "What are you eating?" "Nardoffy."
- For ages, you and your swim class friend Taylor have been the exact same height, then suddenly one class you were nearly two inches taller than her. Hello growth spurt?!?!
- "Hmm, let me think, yes."
- Went to the zoo and said, "Will the tigers eat me?" I said, no, they're behind glass, and you pouted: "Oh, but I want them to!" Also this trip you played on rocks and pretended that they were water and there were sharks in the water and one bit your arm off and very dramatically held your arm through the rest of the trip while telling people that a shark bit you.
- You started calling Nana just "Nan." Hilarious.
- You gave me something to keep in my pocket and said, "I don't want it to walk off!" (Must have gotten that from daycare.)
- Favorite game is the "fizzy game" when you drip vinegar on baking soda.
- After you threw up, you kept saying, "Remember when I spit up?" with a super sad face. And told everyone about it. Over and over again.
- If I say, "I love you, Emmeline!" you quickly yell "WE ALL LOVE EMMELINE!"
- You love to play play-dough, particularly making dresses for dolls out of play-dough.
- You have these MagiClip dolls with dresses that come in two parts and come apart easily. You keep trying to mix up the different halves of the dresses (like use one piece from Elsa's dress and one half from Anna's dress to create a new one) and it doesn't work because they're shaped differently...but you just jam them together and sometimes tape them together and call it good.
- You sat and watched the big girls at dance class until I was mean and forced you to leave.
- You started to climb into our bed early in the morning...I tell your dad I don't like it and I want you out, but really I love it.
- You're eternally optimistic. If I tell you that a package that has arrived isn't what you were waiting for, you reply, "We hafta see! Maybe it is!"
- You picked out presents for your friend M's birthday and wanted to keep them. You begrudgingly agreed she could have them, but as we were walking in, you said, "But maybe she'll open them and say no thank you and give them back to me?" (Doubtful, kid. But nice thought.)
- You want to know everyone's name, including completely strangers. As we're shopping, you'll ask, "What's her name?" about the checker.
- You climb out of bed and fall asleep in bizarre positions, like kneeling at your bed with your torso on the bed and your lower half next to it, or leaning up against a wall.
- Spring program at school! Nana and Grandma N came to watch.
- We got butterflies and you were so protective over them and told them, "I'll keep you safe, butterflies."
- You're very into saying, "My turn first!" for everything, like if we're going down the stairs you'll jump in front of me and say, "My turn first!"
- In an effort to stay up later, you started calling, "Save me, I'm scared of my bedroom, there are monsters!" when going to bed.
- When looking at the moon: "It's kind of like the sun, but it's the moon!"
- "What are you doing back there, Carys?" [when in the backseat while I was driving] "I'm just talking to myself."
- While playing doctor: "You have a temperature of three eighty dollars."
- When I was cleaning: "You cleaning because someone's coming over?" (Sad answer is: probably.)
- You started preceding statements with a dramatic "Actually..." and a pause before continuing.
- You exclaim "Oh my gosh!"
- You call your little figurines "my girls" and "my guys."
- After discovering our nibbled-on tulips: "Oh my gosh, those rabbits ate all of our flowers! Those mean rabbits, we just planted them!"
- You decided to start wearing your swim goggles in the bathtub so you could "swim".
- When I had kidney stones, I was writhing on the floor in pain and you took such good care of me; rubbing my back, telling me I was going to be okay, and giving me hugs. Months later, you still talk about "that time the doctors came to our house to take care of mommy."
- Also with the kidney stones, I was in so much pain I was throwing up, so I grabbed the closest available container, which ended up being your potty chair. For days on end you were totally aghast: "Mommy, you spit in my potty! But I have to pee!!!!"
- Me: "What do you want for dinner?" You: "Ice cream." Me: "You want ice cream for dinner?" You: "No, for dessert." Me: "Okay, then what do you want for dinner?" You: "I don't want dinner. Just dessert!"
- "But it's my first time!!!" (I don't know exactly why or when you say this, but it's almost like an excuse you use when you're upset.)
- When putting on a short-sleeve PJ shirt you said, "Oh, it's short sleeves!" Then when putting on the pants, you continued, "But the pants are long sleeves!"
- "I TOOTED!" and dissolve into a fit of giggles.
- We went to go work in the garden, and you said, "Are you ready to gard?"
- Keeps saying "got-for instead of "forgot"
- "That's interesting." Like "But it's my first time!" I'm not entirely sure what you think this means. You say it in response to things that I can't connect together so I wish I could read your mind. "Carys, can I play blocks with you?" "No, it's interesting!" Or I'll pretend to put your shoes on and you'll grab them off my feet and say, "No, those are my shoes! That's interesting!"
- "Emmeline, you're my most baby sister ever."
- I love when you bust out knowledge I didn't know you had, like when I said something was brown and you corrected me: "No, it's light brown!"
- You often request that I sing "The Carys song" which is when I replace the words in "You Are My Sunshine" with "You Are My Carys."
- You call all meals dinner.
- A couple days in a row I had stuff from my work lunch left over when I picked you up from daycare so I let you eat them in the car. The first time I didn't, you exclaimed, "Why you not have dinner for me in the car???"
- Regarding some water: "This is really tasty."
- "You're the best." (Are you trying to butter me up for something? It's working.)
- "I'm winning!!! I'm winning!"....even when you are clearly not winning.
- I was running late to pick up Emmeline and told Carys we had to hurry to get her so Em wouldn't worry. The whole car ride she kept saying, "Here we come Emmeline, don't cry, we're driving to get you, we're coming for you, it's okay, don't be sad, here we come, your mom and Carys are coming to get you!!"
- Randomly one day while playing you dramatically fell to the floor and said, "Daddy bit my toe, I can't walk." (Note: dad was not even home.)
- When it was windy out: "HEY! Stop wind-ing my hair!!!"
- "Daddy, take a shower, you stink!"
- You ate some mulberries off the ground at our house and got sick from them, so whenever anyone went to the back yard you'd run up to them to say, "Ground, no!!! Tree, yes!!! You'll get sick!"
- Learning to "tightrope" walk on the lines in the sidewalk with Kimberly.
- You like to act out Scooby Doo, particularly the part where the monster is handcuffed and de-masked. You asked us to handcuff you (or as you say, "Police me!!!") and then act surprised when we pretend to pull a mask off to see "It's just Carys!!!!!!!" We are then supposed to ask, "Why were you being a monster, Carys?"
- After spilling a drink and crying on your birthday: "It's not my birthday if I spilled my smoothie! Tomorrow can be my birthday and I won't spill!"
- You love to have me put both of your legs through one pant leg to give you a "mermaid tail" and will flop/crawl around the house like a mermaid.
- After getting a bowl out, filling it with water, then laying on the floor in order to dip your hair in it: "Look at my hair, mommy! It's so loooooooooong!" (Along those same lines, you won't let me fix or do ANYTHING to your hair at the moment because you want "looooooooooooong hair.")
- You loved watching fireworks for the most part, until one that was unexpectedly loud and big was set off a little to close to you (we were careful - it wasn't dangerous - just bigger/louder than we thought it'd be) and after that you were super wary of all of them.
I see I did this with your last letter, so I'll keep it up. Right now, as I write this, your favorites are (note that these change regularly):
Favorite food: Ice cream or yogurt with sprinkles (chia seeds) or broccoli with cheese or plain baby spinach
Favorite drink: Milk
Favorite movie: Sword in the Stone
Favorite color: Pink or purple
Favorite clothes: Real clothes would be your coral 3/4 sleeve tunic with white dots or one of your dresses. Play clothes would be my pink and blue striped strapless dress that you wear all. the. time.
Favorite shoes: Toms (ok, once again, you don't care about your shoes...these are my favorite. Yours would probably be your purple flats if I made you choose.)
Favorite toy: Play-dough
Favorite book: Whatever library book we just checked out
Favorite park activity: SWINGS.
Some minor stats: You sleep from about 9pm to 7:30am with no nap usually. You go to daycare two days a week. You're 38" tall and weigh 34 pounds. You wear size 3T but 4T is....not falling off you. [SOB.] You know your numbers up to 20 though you get stuck around 16 sometimes and recognize almost all (maybe all?) of the letters. You can write C and H and X. Your favorite teacher at school is Ms. Brenna (in the green room). You have hazel eyes and light brown hair (or dark blonde?) that has these amaaaaaaazing curls that I hope never go away (but probably will, since Nana claims your aunt Jenna had similarly curly hair as a child).
You're beautiful and perfect and flawed and wonderful.
Did I mention I love you?
I love you.