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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sweet Carrots

I've talked a bit (a lot) about the challenges in parenting Carys right now, namely that she's Almost Three. Testing boundaries is like her day job at the moment.

But I don't know if I've mentioned enough how incredibly sweet and funny she's also been during this time of testing. There are so many times during the day that I just want to scoop her up and squeeze her (and usually do) and my heart actually literally feels like it might explode from all The Feels I'm having.

This morning, for instance, I wasn't feeling well, and she ran to my side and rubbed my back and told me it would be okay and got me a pillow and asked if I needed anything. She kept asking if I was hurting and giving me hugs and was so concerned.  If I'm crying for some reason, she genuinely feels it and wants me to feel better. If a friend is hurt, she offers hugs. She gets sad when there is trash on the ground, because it makes the animals sad, but is delighted when she can pick it up to "help the earth."

Her face just lights up the room when she smiles. Her happy is my happy. And her dad's. And her Nana's. And her Kimber's. And anyone else who interacts with her. She can just be the greatest joy to be around and can instantly brighten a bad day. And the best part is that she wants to share that joy with everyone, whether it's the excitement of wearing Frozen underwear (awkward around strangers) or a new toy or just that it's raining outside and she loves the rain - it's not unusual for her to try to share whatever is making her happy at the moment with whoever is with her. Even if that person is just passing us in a Target aisle.

She wants baby sister included in everything and spends hours each day fawning over Emmeline. "Baby sister, do you see my book? Baby Emmeline, look at the bird! Baby sister, you can have some of my ice cream when you get bigger."  Sometimes she tries to love on her a little too much, but the bond that they already share is far greater than what I could have imagined would develop in a short four months. They are each other's sunshine. Emmeline lights up when she sees Carys, and Carys lights up when she sees Emmeline.

She's just such a really, really great kid, and sometimes in the midst of a bizarre tantrum over something that I'd consider small, it's hard to remember the bigger picture and that she's just a little kid. She's trying as hard as she can. I also saw something that stuck with me that reminded parents that we certainly aren't expected to be happy all the time and to never be upset, yet we often expect that of our young children. I've redoubled my effort over the last week or so to remember that and to respond calmly with empathy and love, and I've been reminding her that I love her and that she's a good kid even if I don't like what she's doing. I've also been working hard on rephrasing my "nos" to "yeses." If I feel a harsh tone coming out, I'll take a breath and try again. These are things that I've always done, but I've intensified my efforts to do them every. single. time. with consistency. And I've seen small gains as a results:  fewer tantrums and faster calming. As a result of that, I've felt calmer as well, and more connected to her than ever before.

I'm still not looking forward to Three Year Old Tantrums, though.

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