Your hair is still blonde, framing your round face and dark brown eyes. Your round belly peeks out of shirts that are a little too small. Shirts that you still love and I hate to pack away. Shirts that your sister wore three years ago and are now stained pink from years of afternoon watermelon and popsicles.
You are a fish. In swim lessons, you swim across the pool, flipping to your back to catch a breath and then instantly flip to your stomach to finish the traverse. You reach the other side of the pool and you look for me with a giant smile. You wave. You shine so brightly, my eyes sometimes fill with tears watching you.
Every night around 12am, you walk to my room and climb in bed beside me. Unlike your sister, who I carried back to her room, middle daughter, you experience the luxury of my exhaustion. I pull you in bed and we snuggle. Lately, I’ve pulled you in bed and in my exhausted haze, I’ve thought you were your big sister. You are getting so big. People often ask me if you two are twins.
You are an expert cuddler. You snuggle next to me on the couch or bed, and gently pinch the skin on my arm, my cheeks, and my belly. Sometimes you pinch a little too hard, but mostly you give gentle squeezes. “I like to squeeze your squishy parts,” you murmur. Pure love, you make me almost happy to have extra parts.
You were the easiest of my three babies, you were not a screamer, and slept better than both your siblings. Today if I had to put money on who would be the most likely to sleep past 6:30am, it would be you.
My partner in crime, my little helper, we run errands together, you help me do laundry and clean the counters. A homebody, you are happy to stay home and hang out.
When I pick you up from preschool, you give me the detailed run down of every minute of your morning, including who sat with you, played with you, and what everybody said.
You are so proud of your family. When I pick you up from school, you lead your baby brother over to your friends and demand, “LOOK AT MY BABY,” with the biggest smile on your face. On the rare occasion that your big sister was home from school and came to pick you up, you were on cloud nine. “THIS IS MY BIG SISTER,” you told everyone.
Your sister is your best friend. You share a room, a bunk bed, and toys. Some days you choose to match and wear identical clothes. As your brother gets older, you play with him too. You and the baby are magnets pulled together by an invisible force. To my irritation, you cannot keep your hands off of each other. The minute he finds a toy, you steal it and run from him at lightning speed. You silently pinch him behind my back. You constantly push his buttons (and mine too). You make him scream constantly, but the minute you disappear to another room he searches for you.
“Sister, where are you?” he calls in his 18 month-old garbled speech? “Where did sister go?” he asks putting his hands in the air.
He will be tough because he has you.
You love Star Wars and Scooby Doo. When your baby brother was born, I relaxed a little in terms of appropriate television viewing. As long as your Dad kept you and your sister entertained, I was happy. Your Dad let you watch Star Wars. You and your sister are obsessed. For Christmas, you got a Star Wars lunch box and backpack. Much to my embarrassment, you told everyone in preschool (including your friends parents) that you love Star Wars and watched every single one of them. Initially, you loved “Luke,” (because he is handsome?!?!?) but now you prefer the dark side.
Parents approach me, “Wow, she watched Star Wars?”
“I like the Empire Strikes Back,” you announce unabashedly.
“I didn’t know they were old enough,” they state.
“Nope, they aren’t, it’s completely inappropriate for three-year-olds,” I admit embarrassed. “I have lost all control.”
Although initially you may act shy, once you feel comfortable you give everyone the constant run down of everything that is going on. My parents used to tell me that they called me the “Family Narrator” because I would describe everything that everyone did at all times. You are our family narrator. You are good company. I never feel lonely or bored when I’m with you.
You love playing with boys. This year you were a little boy obsessed, which is weird because how could a three-year-old possibly be boy crazy, but you are. You came home from school and would tell me, “Mom, I like playing with the Bad Boys.” When we dropped your sister off at the kindergarten “Kiss & Go,” you always wanted Mr. Stephen to come to the door and grab your sister. You even sang songs about him, much to your sister’s embarrassment. You will be trouble in middle school and high school.
Although an easy baby, at times you were an impossible three-year-old. You are pure charm and naughtiness. You haven’t napped since you were two, but I enforce quiet time while your brother naps. You stay up in your room while I work on my computer. Quiet time is never quiet. You sneakily steal shampoo from the bathroom and wash the Barbies’ hair on the carpet in your bedroom, you pushed toys and stuffed animals down the HVAC vents in your room, and you colored elaborate pictures on the carpet with markers. You make my blood boil, but charm is your super power. You always magically float back into my good graces.
You may be one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. You make everyone feel special with your smiles and whispered words of love. You dole them freely to all those you love.
On the flip side, you are fierce. If something upsets you, you roar mightily, stomp your feet, throw things in rage, and slam doors repeatedly to make your point.
The other day I met you at camp to rock climb. Before leaving for camp that day, you told me you were too scared to climb. When I got there you climbed one side of the wall. You maybe made it a couple of footholds off the ground. Each time you climbed, you got a little higher. You attempted to climb each side of the wall, and one time you may have gotten half way up. You kept trying and getting a little higher. It was hot, 90 degrees, and the wall was set up on hot pavement. Most of the other kids stopped and sat in the shade, but red faced you kept climbing.
The instructor hooked your harness to another side of the wall. You smiled.
“You know what,” she said. “When you keep trying something even though it’s hard, and you don’t give up, that means, you have a giant heart.” I smiled at the truth of the statement.
You are pure heart.
This birthday post comes two weeks late. I’ve debated posting it because I began having mixed feeling about posting details about my kids. Now my oldest values her privacy, so I will not publicly post my birthday letter to her this year. I decided posting this one because:
(1) friends and family appreciate a glimpse of the little personalities emerging in our family,
(2) I adore these kiddos and want to remember every single moment.
(3) This is my public love letter to my little girl, I’ve never received a public letter of adoration, but I bet I would like it, and
(4) I love my family so much, I want to shout it from the roof tops and tell the world just how special they are,
For these reasons and more, I’m writing the memories down.