Tomorrow is your birthday. My mind and heart are filled with a million amazing moments with you and yet it still doesn’t seem possible that you could already be three. Your laugh may just be the most incredible and beautiful sound in this world. Your true, genuine laugh. It doesn’t come out all that often; sometimes there will be whole days when I don’t hear it. But when it does – oh, when it does – the whole world is brighter and I can’t stop the smile from growing on my face.
When I look at pictures of you at your second birthday, I am astounded by how much you have changed in only a year. Gone is any resemblance to the sweet, tiny baby you once were. Suddenly, as if overnight, you have become a kid. A great big kid who jumps with both feet, climbs with dexterity and fearlessness, stands on one leg, makes silly faces, tries to crack jokes, and says the most outrageous and hilarious things.
You adore your little sister, but you are still just three, after all. So some days you can’t keep your hands (or feet) to yourself. Some days you absolutely refuse to let her have a single toy, let alone share any with her. Some days you try my patience to the breaking point. Some days you make me so incredibly, wonderfully proud. Some days I can’t stop the smiles and the laughter as I watch you experience the world and share your unique view of it with me.
You have given up naps almost completely now. I’m working on getting you to understand the concept of “quiet time” instead. Actually, you really like it most of the time. Every day, at least once, you ask me if you can “go read in my room for awhile.” I think it is your way of taking a break, removing yourself from all the overwhelming stimuli in this big, bright, loud, close world. I also think you just really, really love books. I am constantly amazed, impressed and humbled by you. I know that some days the world is just overwhelming for you; so much sensory input coming at you and making you feel completely at sea and desperate for stable place to moor. Yet your coping abilities are incredible. Though sometimes it is incredibly hard, you always try to find the words to tell me you need a break, that the world is too much right this moment. You remove yourself and find a quiet corner with a book, a snuggly blanket and a soft seat. You find your inner calm, that breathtaking inner peace that you have always had, and once again you are my “zen baby.” Your self-awareness and self-regulation are mind-blowing for any toddler, much less one experiences the world in heightened sensation as you do. I am firmly convinced your soul is one of the oldest ones walking this Earth.
You can write your name, completely unassisted. You can read your name, mom, dad, Eleanor and Kelsie. I think you may be starting to recognize other sight-words as well. You want to read so badly – I can see it in your face, in the way you will sit for an hour, slowly leafing through a book we’ve read many (many) times and telling yourself the story you’ve learned by heart. You know your full name, the city you live in and the month of your birthday. You know that Saturday comes after Friday and that means Daddy gets to stay home and not go to work. So many things you know!
Your hair. Oh, your hair! It is so long now, halfway down your back, and has the most beautiful ringlets. Truly, you are stunning. I still say your eyes are hazel but, honestly, they may finally have settled to a golden brown. It’s hard to get you to stand still long enough to let me see them.
You are interested in baseball. You like to do “downward dog” and to “dance like a ballerina.” Yes, finally, you dance to music. At least occasionally. You make up songs all the time and the lyrics are ridiculously adorable and hilarious. I keep trying to catch you on video.
There have been a good number of “firsts” for you this year: Your first camp out in a tent. Your first s’mores. Your first dentist visit (not as a result of the s’mores). Your first experience with glitter. First year as a big sister. It has been such a privilege and honor to be here to share all these moments with you. First time exploring tidepools.
You are growing so fast that I can’t help but think, every time you slip your tiny hand in mind, how short a time I have left before that hand is too big to let me hold it any longer. But your cheeks are still baby soft. Your hand can still wrap around just one of my fingers. Your run is still equally vertical as it is horizontal. Your giggle is still the sound of a precious, little girl.
I love you, Little Bit. So very, very much. Happy Birthday, my love.