As I write this, we are nearing the end of my 41st birthday, and you are happily playing with your ponies. You had a quick snack when we got home, and you were full of smiles and sunshine when the cats came up to greet you. That wasn’t the case 20 minutes ago, when you were in the back seat demanding to watch the dolphin video NOW. Or when you were insisting that we were already home when we WEREN’T. Or when you were relentlessly kicking the front seats (yes, she can reach BOTH), because you didn’t like the song on the radio. That must have been a different little 3-year-old…
On the way to the beach, I had a trump card- your matchbox cars. That was the only thing you wanted to bring today, and I was able to quell each fit and tantrum with threatening the loss of those cars. Perfection- we always need something to work towards! But the way home? No more trump card. You were all played out, you weren’t hungry, just tired of being in the car. And in typical 3-year-old form, you were doing your BEST to assert yourself, while strapped into your carseat in the middle of the back of my truck. Upon our arrival at home, it would be nearly time for bed, so I no longer had any incentive to dangle in front of you. And quite frankly- I was pretty tired myself.
Now don’t get me wrong- overall, the day was stellar. You and your Dad are two of my favorite people in the whole world, and I enjoyed playing in the sand, and splashing in the water with you guys. And when that seagull accidentally bit your finger, as he tried to snatch the cracker in your hand? The three of us snuggled together in solidarity under that umbrella, safe in our little family bubble. Those are memories I’m sure we’ll revisit, and they’ll become part of our family history.
But as for this exhausting doppelgänger that began to appear a few weeks ago? You know, the one that wants to do it all herself, but then panics when I give her space? She’s gotta take a deep breath, and learn to listen to and trust her parents. And as I head upstairs to rally you for your tub, I walk in to your room to see you twirling in front of the mirror. ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” pumps from your boom box, and you are decked out in not one, but two dresses, at least 10 bracelets, a couple necklaces, and a crown. You are hopping so high, I think you might knock your own self over, and I love seeing you so happy with your reflection in the mirror. I also realize, more than anything, how much I love being the one who gets to help you learn to navigate your world. I adore the passion that you display when you feel strongly about something, no matter how unreasonable I think you may be. Your unrelenting drive will carry you far, but in the meantime, can you please just agree with me once in a while? I will never steer you wrong.