You’re about to turn three. Three! I can’t believe it. Three represents something, something so big. It, to me, means an end to the baby days. It means the beginning of complex thinking, of impulse control, of understanding other people in a deeper, awakening way. It means that the way you see the world is changing by leaps all the time.
So, my special girl, in honor of your third birthday I wanted to share the three things I love about you most.
I love the way you look at books.
I have always loved books. Some of the best memories of my own childhood involve me snuggled under the blankets, being lulled to calmness by one of my parent’s soft voices. I remember picturing foreign lands and impossible magic as their words painted elaborate pictures for me.
You see books so differently than I do. You want to be active. As I go to turn a page you sit up quickly in bed, sometimes even proclaiming, “Wait! I have a question!” And there begins the stream of hows and whys and wheres. I’ve even had to make a rule that we can only do one question per page. Otherwise, a picture book that would take us five minutes to zip through could take an hour. You want to touch the books, turn the pages, point at the characters.
I love the way you’re so hungry to know new things and the way you lean into my arm as I read.
I love your love of Disney characters.
Your dad and I, set on raising children in a gender neutral environment, said we’d never have Barbies in the house, never make you wear the glittering, ruffled layers of a princess costume. You, however, have made us break our own rules. You dance about in a Cinderella getup, all shining tiara and scraped up elbows, and turn my living room into a ballroom.
What you’ve taught me is that even in your princess costumes you are strong. The other day, in one of my favorite so you memories, you burst out of your bedroom holding tightly to a clothes hanger. You held it sideways and confidently shouted that this was your bow, and you were Merida. You pretended to flip your locks out of your face as you aimed down your target (me). You let your pretend arrow fly and then bounced around yelling, “Victory! Victory!”
I tried to explain to you that Merida’s horse, from whom she shoots her arrows, is Angus. You proceeded to ask, several times, why her horse is angry. I laughed until my side hurt and scooped you up in a hug. You wiggled away from me so quickly but not before planting a kiss on my cheek. You are wonderfully patient with me and my need to cover you with Mommy kisses and loves even when you’re busy being Merida, swimming with your Ariel mermaid tail, or pretending to cut your hair just like “Punzie.”
I love your courage.
You, even knowing you could get hurt, try new things every day. Just yesterday you tried the “big kid” ladder at the park, using your whole body to hoist yourself up the metal rungs. You made it all the way to the last rung before you realized your arms are still just too short to pull yourself up. You called for help and I came running because I was afraid you would fall. You celebrated as I helped you reach the top, your fear forgotten, your triumph complete. You went down the slide, calling for me and your sister to come after you.
As I was putting you to bed last night you asked, “Remember that time I climbed up the ladder like a big girl?” I do remember, honey. I’m going to see you climb and conquer so many ladders, real and figurative, and I’m always going to be this proud. Don’t be afraid. Any time I can, I will run to catch you when you fall. For the times when I can’t get there in time, I promise to help pick you up and dust you off.
Just the other night you fell while trying to balance on the edge of your bed. You hit your face on the bedframe and came running into my arms. “I wasn’t careful,” you told me. I know. I saw. I’ve also seen you try it and succeed since then. When it comes to climbing, jumping, or acrobatics you’re daring. Stay that way, my big girl.
Happy soon to be 3rd birthday. We love you so very much. And thank you. Thank you for these last three years of loving and learning. Since you’ve come into our lives I’ve learned a little more about you, about myself, and about life than I ever expected to.