Sunday, April 19, 2009

Three Years Old

Dearest Hatchling,
Boy howdy. You turned three years old yesterday, and what a year it has been! I thought the difference between one and two was big, but the difference between two and three is ... also big! This year has been all about growing up, physically, emotionally, verbally, mentally - you've been covering all the bases. You're wearing 5T clothes and toddler size 11 shoes, and you dwarf every other kid your age at school or on the playground. At some point in the future your Viking-like proportions may be a hurdle to get over, but right now you don't see anything odd in being a good head taller than your peers, and neither do they. Here's hoping that lasts.

Girls with hats

But your physical prowess is not limited to growth - oh, no! You also are really good at playing catch - I mean, you actually catch the ball a lot, which is pretty good for age three - and you have a scary throwing arm. Perhaps softball is in your future? But then, we wouldn't want to deny your possibly greater talent for the terpsichorean arts. You've loved to dance pretty much since you could walk, but you've now reached a point where you can incorporate others' choreography (you're particularly fond of the "dancey-dances" from Yo Gabba Gabba) in addition to creating your own. Often, this past winter, as soon as Daddy got home from work, it was dance time for the whole family. You'd spend maybe 10 minutes carefully explaining and teaching us new moves ("Ok-ok-ok, now how you do DIS one is, hands WAAAAY uppa dee air! Good job, evvyone!") and then it was follow-the-leader time in a joyful free-for-all. Sure, sometimes you look more like you're channeling Elaine on Seinfeld than Leroy from Fame (Original Fame reference! HOLLA!), but either way the result is purely awesome to behold.

The little ballerina advances

Verbally, you've expanded your vocabulary by leaps and bounds, and if you're still not *quite* as articulate as a lot of kids your age, it certainly doesn't stop you from communicating with us. Sure, your pronunciation often verges on Swedish Chef, but your dramatic arts are Sarah Bernhardt all the way. The gestures! The expressions! The condescending smiles! The vehement stomping of feet! At our weekly parent and kid class, the teacher refers to you as "exuberant" and that pretty much sums it up. You have big feelings, big reactions to things, and that is both wonderful and exhausting.

Ellie's third birthday

Speaking of wonderful, you've been a real trouper throughout the whole pregnancy/birth/baby invasion process. Having a little sister is a beautiful thing, but it's also a biiiiiiiiig change from being the center of attention all the time, and I'm frankly bowled over by how generous you've been with the transition. You love to hold and kiss the baby, and you're the first person to alert us if she cries or seems at all unhappy. The other day after a tiring morning out, you were on the verge of a major tantrum, but when the Sprout started crying you stopped and said "help baby sister, Mama," so I'd be sure to know it was OK to tend to her first.

Daddy and his girls

In fact, you're regularly willing to step aside, stand back and wait for the baby to be cared for before asserting your own needs, and this makes me a little bit sad - because who likes making the switch from star to co-star? - but mostly enormously proud. I know lots of parents who mourn the passing of babyhood or toddlerhood, who miss the previous stages as much as they look forward to the coming ones. I've never really felt that way, because you just keep getting better and better with each year. You're an amazing big sister and an amazing kid, and your daddy and I know we're so lucky to have you for our oldest daughter. Here's to another wonderful, exhausting, exuberant year.

Ellie's third birthday