Yesterday you turned thirty-five months old, meaning you’re now less than one month away from officially turning three years old, and officially growing up way to fast.
This upcoming birthday is something of a big deal to you, for several reasons. One reason is that you’ve already got your entire birthday party planned, including a designer suite of Tinker Bell decorations, orders for Chuck E. Cheese pizza and games, and an ever-growing guest list that occasional includes your parents. So get ready to party like it’s… er… 1989?
Another reason for your excitement is that being 3 means you’re one year closer to being 5, an age at which I’ve previously and variously promised that you can play baseball, play soccer, take ballet, and enter super-robot training academy, all of which, to my surprise and dismay, you remember. Of course, the biggest reason is that while you are still unable to hold up two fingers without a significant priot preparation (a deficiency that continues to hamper your attempts to master Roshambo), you can hold up three fingers just fine, and you’re looking forward to being able to answer the continuous “How are old are you?” question without speaking up.
This isn’t to say you haven’t been partying this month. Oh, no! This month marked both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, both holidays you celebrated by having adults give you cards and stickers and candies. Given your upcoming birthday and Easter, it’s clear you’re going to be on a sugar high until summer.
I myself had been looking forward to you’re turning three on the grounds that I though it officially meant the end of any bout of “Terrible Twos,” until your mother sadistically informed me that they were supposed to last until you are four. Apparently, she was right, too, as this month you seem to have embraced your inner temper tantrum. This month, when things haven’t gone your way, you’ve taken to putting on a ferocious pouting face, pumping your fists, and stomping in place. Usually you get tired of doing this while standing, so you’ll flop on your back, madly flailing your arms and legs like a panicky, capsized turtle.
You’re not old enough to appreciate being grounded, so whenever you act up I do the next best thing*: I ground your toys. Specifically, I banish your toys to the garage for a week. In fact, after one particularly prolonged episode this month (the one in which you refused to eat a bowl of oatmeal… and therefore anything else… for three days), you ended up sending so many of your belongings to the garage that our neighbors thought we were having a pre-school garage sale.
* I tend you let you have a moment to tantrum before giving you a three-count to cease and desist; it is only when you fail to quit that you lose toys. Your mother takes a different tack: she doesn’t give you any count whatsoever — any sign of a flailing limb and you lose toys. To her credit, however, she’s far more likely to try and reason with you early on to diffuse a situation, often posing your options as a choice, as in “I’ll give you a choice: eat all your oatmeal now and you can be done; or, you can be finished, but you’ll have to eat it again at the next meal and you’ll have to choose a DVD to send to the garage. Now choose.”
In point of fact, these choices rarely alter your behavior significantly when you’re already angry, but they have altered the way in which you deal with me. For example, one day this month you were taking a bath. I usually hang out there with you, partly to help you wash your body and hair, but mostly to prevent you from leaving my bathroom under two inches of sudsy water, but on this occasion I needed to run downstairs to switch a load of laundry.
“I have to go,” I said to you, “but I’ll be right back.”
“Okay Daddy,” you said calmly. “I’m going to give you a choice. You can stay here with me, and then I will be happy. Or you will not stay here, and then I will not be happy. It’s your choice. Now choose.”
Yes, you are a drama queen, but fortunately for us, its not all the whiny kind. You blossomed this month as a pint-sized performer, a teeny-weeny vaudeville performer with an affinity for song and dance numbers. You’d learned most of the dance moves from your Wiggles DVDs a while ago, but now you’ve started to add props, too. For example, you’d learned all the words to Havenu Shalom Alechem months ago, but now you can also perform the traditional Jewish dance that goes with it… and you do, in your appropriately themed tutu. For the Go, Captain, Go! dance number, you and I have matching pom-poms; and most recently you’ve mastered the Sailor’s Hornpipe, and are working on your Irish dancing.
Of course, your mother can only take so much Wiggly music, but fortunately for her you’ve also discovered a deep and abiding love the movie Momma Mia!* I suspect that over the course of this month, we’ve probably watched that movie, oh, about forty times a day. You quickly learned all the songs, making your the most adorable ABBA-exclusive MP3 player ever. To your mother, a bit of a singing thespian herself with a sweet spot for Swedish pop music, this is a sign of divine providence from God that you are, in fact, meant to be her child. Recently I’ve caught you “stocking up” before viewing the movie, collecting all the props you’ll need for the various dance numbers: a book to pretend read during Honey! Honey!; toy money to throw around during Money Money Money; a pillow to fall on upon the conclusion of Momma Mia and Voulez Vous; even a billowy dress to wear during The Winner Takes It All. You’re like a one-woman ABBA revue, and your mom has already contacted promoters and planned your summer tour schedule.
Your flair for song and dance has had a quirky side effect, however. Many of your Wiggles songs, for example, require clapping or stomping or some other form of noise making. Of course, you are frequently too busy doing something else (such as a costume change or taking another toy out to the garage) to do this, so you started clicking your tongue to stand in for the necessary percussion. Soon you were adding the little clicks into all your songs, adding beat-boxer to your growing list of theatrical talents. But apparently you felt that mere musical numbers were too restrictive, and so you’ve added click as part of your day-to-day vernacular. It more or less functions as an alternative to um in your daily speech. This means that a typical discussion from your is of the form “Can I get some click click click milk please? And let’s put it click click in the microwave click click click And let’s get some click click click cereal too,” which makes you sound less like a bubbly almost-three-year-old than a slightly malfunctioning robot.
Well, whether or not you grow up to be actress or a singer or a super robot, you’re certainly an amazing little girl, and I just love you more and more each day. I love you, my honey honey.
— Ba ba
See more pictures from your thirty-third month over at Flickr.