An open letter to Z, who turns three,
I think I finally get you. It’s mostly the talking but it’s also the way you make hard things—like moving across the country, saying hello and goodbye to so many people—seem easy. You laugh, over the top, at the tiniest joke. Your favorite joke is this: We don’t swim in your toilet, please don’t pee in our pool. And, for potty training purposes, I’ve adapted it to: We don’t sleep in your Pull-ups, please don’t pee in our bed. If you call out mom, and I answer “Bart” in a low voice, you giggle so hard you snort. Yesterday, in the car, you kept asking us where mom and dad were. I answered, “ummm, right here,” making the “right here” interrupt the “ummm” at new and surprising places. Mostly, you make me feel like a comic genius. Finally, someone recognizes my true talent and I thank you for being so perceptive.
You love to be surprised and so you like hide and seek the best although we’re not sure of the rules of your version. You run and hide for about two seconds and then come find us and say boo. If we’re feeling really lazy, we can get you to hide in a box and you jump out every minute or so and we jump as high as we can get our lazy bones to go, in absolute shock. Where were you? In that box? Just like you were a minute ago?
You do so love to count and yet you’ve banished the numbers 3 and 4 to the end of 10. I know this is just stubbornness on your part but when you start school next month, I bet I’ll sound like one of those poor mothers who really needs to get a grip and realize that her kid’s paste-eating is not a sign of future culinary skill. But really, the 3 and the 4, they pissed you off somehow. Perhaps now that you’re three, you’ll begin to forgive the pair.
You have the narrative gene that must have skipped a generation. Every time before nap, I get a rundown of what just happened and a preview of what will take place after the nap: “Brush teeth, go to the potty, change clothes, make coffee, go on a walk, eat breakfast, brush teeth, go to bed.” Then “Wake up (note that all the phrases lilt up in the end like a question. Not a question if that’s what’s going to happen but a question like, you’re getting this down, right?), play puzzle, hide & seek, play monster, make dinner, find Box (Box has been losing himself in the wilds in the day), change clothes, brush teeth, and go to bed.” Sometimes, we think you’re of Italian heritage because many verbs and nouns have an extra “a” to them: “We go-a to the park. We park-a the car. You also ask-a that if we take-a mom’s car, that I not turna so much. It makes me sick”. It does make you sick. You throw up if I turn too many u-turns looking for a parking place.
You got to spend a lot of time with your Maestra and your grandma and grandpa and your aunts. And your cousins. Lately, the narrative litany of activities included, “go to Maestras” or “Go to Lily and Cam’s,” “are Grandma and Grandpa here yet?” and “go to Salt Lake.” The number of activities attended this summer outweighs the sum total of your life up to this point. You went swimming with KJ, and with Cam and Lil, you went through the forest every day, Mice took you on a bus, on a light rail, and on a choo choo train all in one day. You went kayaking twice and swung on a swing either at Little Hands’ or at Grandma’s every single day. You went to Liberty Park and went on the Ferris Wheel and the Merry-Go-Round. Mice and Bart and I took you and Cam and Lil on the alpine slide. You rode your big wheel that Lil lent you. And, you learned how to be a cool cousin to Cam and Lil. You rode in the car to Ponderosa Town. You went to the peaks here and then the pueblos and then to Red Rock wonder. I hope your birthday holds new adventures: a trip to the lake, a bike ride, maybe a movie???
You still eat a lot of kinds of foods. You now like lettuce once in a while. The other day, you ate your taco like a normal person instead of like your mom who still keeps the meat separate from the cheese from the lettuce from the tortilla. Your palate may have already transcended mine. You still like raw onions, pickles, turkey, sausage, broccoli, peas, and red bell peppers but lately, you’ve liked salmon more than anything. At the wine bar, we had to order a second plate of smoked salmon. You loved it, although the capers, not so much. Two days ago, I was shucking corn and you sat on the counter and ate of two of the cobs, raw. And then you ate another cob for dinner. You love cherries, and, thanks to your grandma, eat around the pit. You love blueberries and strawberries and raspberries like all reasonable humans. You pretend to like coffee and then you take a sip and say “gah, what have I put in my mouth.”
You change clothes 4-5 times a day. You also like to tell me what to wear. “Go upstairs, find a dress, change your clothes. Wear a dress.” I usually comply although lately I’ve been saying, “you get to wear what you want; I’ll wear what I want.” This confounds you. Obviously, you have better fashion sense than I should listen to you. Mice bought you a new purple dress to replace your old purple dress which you wear every day. You also wear the dress that Little Hands got you. Every day. You still like purple but pink is even better. You still don’t like your clothes dirty, but sometimes it seems you spill just as an excuse to change your clothes. You have ways of the girl—all your stuffed animals are babies and you’re the mama. You also like to climb on rocks (and furniture) and go on hikes in the forest (both our backyard, Grandma’s backyard, and the real forest just behind our house). You love to swim and are learning to blow out rather than to suck in, albeit not as fast as you would like.
You sing. A lot. Going on a trip and then add in the people above houses to which we’ll go and mom and dad. Or you’ll sing “we’re on a bike ride, going on a bike ride, bike ride, bike ride” if we are, for instance, on a bike ride. You dance too and can do an arabesque, a leap and downward dog using your head instead of your hands. Many talents you have.
There are some cute and yet, what is the euphemism, challenging elements to the Z. You ask why a lot. Like why are there two lights and three over there? Where is there a stair there? Why is that my plate? Where is the chicken? (In your mouth…) When can I see some ducks? You also say “what” a lot even though you’ve heard exactly what I said (methinks you get this from your dad). My favorite thing about you is how nothing gets by—which is why there’s all those why’s and what’s. A pinecone in the road makes you mad. “Put it over there.” An empty Coke cup in the road, “why?” A raven caws, “what’s that.” The refrigerator kicks on, “what’s that.” You remind me that noise is called “thunder” every time the clouds bang together. You tell me how bright it is when the sun is out and that you need your glasses. Which you keep in your purse. Along with your sunscreen and lip stuff.
You also have a mommy-thing lately which, while sweet for me, isn’t very friendly and is a bit wearing. “Can daddy take you to bed?” No, mommy take you. My likes mommy.” My is I around here sometimes. And sometimes “you” is “me.” I can’t wait to teach her about the accusative case and direct objects. However, you do ask “May I have one more gummy bear” with the diction of a blue blood. I will be sad when proper grammar takes over entirely.
She also refuses to sleep in her new princess room. She sleeps with us. Sometimes she sleeps vertically but not every night. But the cuddling. It’s not so bad. And, you’re a bit of a romantic kisser. One arm behind my neck and you pull me to you like so many princes. You pucker nicely. And the random hugging is pretty nice.
So far this morning we found my sunglasses! Yay! And then we went for a bike ride on your trike with Cleo and you pedaled and steered. Simultaneously. And then your dad and I took you mountain biking on the trails behind the house. You went in the bike seat on the back of my bike. You weigh 33 pounds. Ow. My legs.
We’re off to lunch and then maybe to the lake to see those ducks you’re always asking about.
I hope you have a good birthday Z. I can’t wait to see what adventure is next.