Last month you turned three. I don’t know why this birthday felt so big for your dad and I but it did. Perhaps because you have grown so rapidly and changed so much in the past year.
The biggest changes? You are now fully conversant, all done with diapers, and learning about the world around you so fast we can barely keep up.
Last night I lay with you as you fell asleep. You tilted your head back, fixing your eyes in the half light on the three letters above your bed. “Tee … Ay … You … spells Tau,” you told me.
“Yes,” I said, smiling. “It spells Tau.” Your three favorite letters.
And then, out of the blue, you started sounding them out. “Tuh Tuh Tuh … Ah Ah … ?” You weren’t sure what sound a U should make.
“That makes an ‘Ooh’ sound,” I said. “Tuh … Ah … Ooh … Tuh Ah Ooh … Tuh-Ah-Ooh … Tauuuu!”
And together we tried until you got it right. “Tuh-Ah-Ooh … Tau!”
Minutes later, just as I thought your eyelids were starting to droop, you caught sight of the world map on your bedroom wall. Wide eyed again.
“Where Jaimey lives?” you asked, looking directly at New Zealand in the corner. You don’t often ask about the Kiwi cousins you met last December, so I got up and showed you where Auckland is on the map. “An’ where Poway is?”
“Poway is right here …” And anticipating the question that would surely follow, “And Nanny and Kai live here.” When we talk about distance from Canada, for some reason, Nanny and cousin Kai feature most prominantly.
“An’ we go inna big airplane an’ a little airplane to see them.”
“Yes, we go in two airplanes to see them.”
T is for Travel
We have traveled a fair bit this past year. First to New Zealand, where you met your cousins Mitch and Jaimey, and my brother, your Uncle AJ, and the very warm and lovely Auntie Julie. We had a great Christmas with them and traveled around that charming country, enjoying delicious meat pies and lovely beaches and friendly dogs and, of course, many playgrounds.
In May of this year, we flew up to Canada to visit your Dad’s side of the family. There you met your youngest cousin Tait, fed the seals at the Oak Bay Marina, took your first ride in a rowboat on the open ocean and went to cousin Kai’s fourth birthday party.
And then in September, we took a ten-day vacation up in Northern California. We visited sleepy Mendocino, picturesque Sonoma wine country, and the always fun city of San Francisco. You love going on vacation — love the days and days of uninterrupted time with both of us, sleeping in and eating new things in new places, and throwing stones, stones and more stones in the river.
Your dad and I learned, though, that we need never stray far from home to keep you happy. What got you most excited on vacation was counting all the big American flags you saw, finding the fire station in every town, and guessing how strong and loud the flusher on every new toilet you visited would be.
T is for Toilet Training
Speaking about ablutions, this year you potty trained. We were in no hurry and happy for you to learn at your own pace but when we returned from Canada and you started at MY NEW SCHOOL, your new teachers felt you were more than ready.
I tried to stall a bit, wanting you to get back into your routine and feel at home in your new daycare environment. The first weekend that we got you to wear underpants only was very frustrating. We had a few successes, more than a few messes, and lots of tears, two-year-old anger and digging in of little heels.
Your dad and I should have known — neither of us do anything we don’t want to do. Why do we expect you to be any different? After much pleading and coaxing, we realized that you were more than ready to be potty trained; you just wanted to do it on your own terms. Once we clued in, we let you be. And almost immediately, you started taking yourself off, doing what you needed to do, pulling up your pants, and washing your hands.
As an aside, one of the most fascinating aspects of using a toilet for you is considering the fate of your pee and poop. I explained to you once how when you flush, it goes down, down, down and that the pipe goes all the way to the ocean. You love this idea — of your bodily waste traveling all the way to the ocean. That and the fact that you learned from one of your Curious George DVDs that if toys go down the plug or toilet they clog up the pipes and might end up out in the ocean too. I swear the thought of losing bath toys forever to the ocean is the only thing that stops you from shoving them down the loo.
T is for Thinking it Through
Now that you are truly verbal, we have been amazed to see what goes on in your head. Your thought patterns and your ability to surmise and even turn things to your own benefit.
I made the mistake of talking about your birthday party and taking you along when I shopped for it. It didn’t take you long to figure out that birthday parties were all about buying fun stuff. And more than once when I told you that we weren’t buying something (say, some tooth-rot candy, more Playdoh or, oh, perhaps the life-size Go! Diego Go! coloring book we saw one day at Michaels), you’d complain in your best hard-done-by tone, “But we NEEEED it … for my party!?” Nice try.
You haven’t figured out how to tell bold-faced lies just yet, and we’re enjoying this fleeting innocence. When you do something naughty, you will readily admit to it and often say sorry of your own accord.
Driving to daycare. “Daddy, do that thing again.”
“The windshield wipers?”
“Ya. That thing.”
“No. We only turn them on when it’s raining – otherwise you scratch the car. It’s super sunny today. ”
Silence. “Daddy? It’s raining … just a little bit.”
T is for Talking … and Talking and Talking
Your hunger for words and songs and stories — any new information really — is very gratifying to see. Not only is it convenient to know what you’re thinking, it’s also quite thrilling to hear new words coming out of your mouth — often, words we haven’t taught you.
The other night, you told us that a boy at daycare was a brat … and a poopy-bum. Not words you learned from us. And you might not know it, kiddo, but having older parents (and by that I mean more tired and jaded) often works to your advantage. I told your dad what you’d said, we shrugged and muttered that we supposed you were right on schedule for toilet humor to kick in.
Potty mouth aside, we love hearing you come out with new words and phrases. Probably … dune buggy … river dolphin. I could go on and on because there are new ones every day. And they give us insight into the things you are learning at school. But what I love most are those rare glimpses we get into what’s in your sweet heart. A “Mommy, I’m sorry!” or a fierce hug and a “I love you …. this much” (wide arms) for your dad.
Last night you and I lay on your bed and chatted a bit more. You wanted to hear the story of what we’d done that day, so I started with our visit to the playground at Balboa Park, how you’d played soccer with a boy of five and climbed for the first time over the big wire dome.
“Shhh! Mommy, you can STOP now …”
“Shhhhhhhhhh!” in the dark. Your little finger urgently to your lips.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo had started singing quietly on your CD player, a song you hadn’t heard in a while, and you’d rather hear that song in another language, its new and very interesting harmonies, than a story you already know.
And so you grow. Story by story. Song by song. Letter by letter.
At your birthday party, you went for a train ride with all of your friends. When your dad explained to the conductor that there was a birthday boy (you get three loops around the park instead of two for a birthday ride), she asked your name and you replied matter of factly, “Tau … Tee Ay You!”
Yes. Tee Ay You spells Tau and so many other wonders!