Monday, December 20, 2010

Marta, Age 3

Dear Marta,
I started writing this post an hour two hours ago. In that time you have had the hardest, most knock-down tantrum you've ever had - one that had me biting my lips to keep from giggling, because you were so serious, so adamant. You're not often like that. Also in that time you refused to be dressed, refused to wear your pajamas that I had picked out, and yelled for me throughout the 10 minutes we were apart (you were getting a bath from Dad).

You're suddenly a handful at times, throwing fits, insisting on your goals, sticking up for yourself with your sister. I'm told this is what a 3-year-old does. I had a 3-year-old once, but she's nearly 5 now and in the two years since her third birthday I've lost most of my memory. Mostly because of the two of you, partly from the dog and partly from my poor multi-tasking skills. So I don't remember how it is to have a 3-year-old, but in the past few weeks leading up to your third birthday, life has been more dynamic than usual.

On the night following your third birthday party (the second of your parties, the one at Grandma and Pop's, on the day before your actual birthday), you called out in your sleep, "I WISH I WAS A GROWN-UP! I WISH I WAS A GROWN-UP!"

It was strange, coming from you. You, my Marta, are our little one, our baby, our sweet kid who loves all things that kids should, like popsicles and trikes and bubbles. It would have made more sense if it had been Berit, who often seems like she's 4 going on 14.

You still look like a baby to me. Your blond hair is thin and turns into ringlets when it's hot outside. Your cheeks are round and pink, and it's hard to tell if you've even grown eyebrows yet. Your feet are pork chops and your knees are square. Your voice is cute and the edges of your words are rounded, baby-like still, so that your reading and spelling actual words (Marta, Berit, Mommy, Daddy, Mosey, Doublestein, Dog, Mimi, Pop, Go, Stop, Tub, Bed) seems even crazier than it is. You know the sounds of every letter of the alphabet and can tell me what any word starts with. You count to 10 in Spanish and French, and to 100 in English with a little prompting. Your favorite number is 22.

You draw pictures of yourself now - you just decided to try, and you should have seen how proud you looked when you did it. You don't use a booster or a high chair anymore (though you probably could and it would be helpful), and you're trying to use big cups instead of sippy cups (though each time you try you get nervous and ask for a top).

You understand, know about, completely get the idea of going on the potty. You know you can, you know everyone else does. You often do - you spend most mornings and afternoons in "big girls." But you get tired of the stress, I think, and by evening you put on your own Pull-Up.

You still run full-throttle and trip constantly. You still need help going up and down stairs. You jump without considering your landing. I should have you in swim class, in ski lessons. I feel terribly guilty about this, but you're in school three days a week now. Three days! For three hours! And you love it. I don't like to push you to do more than that. You're barely 3-years-old.

When I made your bed this morning, I pulled your covers back and found three stacks of books hiding there. When you get up at night you usually tell me when I can leave your room; when you've been comforted and don't need reassurance anymore.

From the day you were born you loved animals, especially dogs and horses, and that hasn't changed. If there's a choice between an animal and a princess story you choose animal - same goes for coloring books, movies, dress-up and playtime. Right now your favorite toys are unicorns and My Little Ponies. You'd quickly choose a big, 48-piece puzzle over watching a movie.

Though your tantrum tonight was over a candy cane, you'd sooner choose salty over sweet, suckers over chocolate, cinnamon toast over any other breakfast. Ninety percent of your hydration comes from milk; you have very little patience for water and don't like juice or anything fizzy.

You and I are buddies. We work well together, and we have fun doing most things. I don't think I push you like I do your sister, and you give me more leeway than she does. She and I can talk about anything, you and I can hang together. It's nice to have two kids with two different relationships. It's especially nice that the two of you are best friends, yet are so different.

The very best thing about you, my Marta, is your sweetness. At your birthday party the other night, when you sat at the end of the table overlooking your pink and purple unicorn cake, with three candles shining, while we sang "Happy Birthday to Marta," you scooped your arms around like you were going to pick up a big teddy bear, then clasped yourself - you were giving everyone there a hug at once, a giant hug with a huge, grateful smile on your face. You are so kind, so loving, so genuinely sweet, and I have to say that age 3 may be tougher on your mama than it is on you, even with the odd tantrum. You are my baby, my Marta, my Little One. You are getting Big.

Love, Mom

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