Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dear Fern, part XXXVI

Dear Fern,

Unbelievably, you turn three years old today. What's most astounding about your birthday is that you've seemed three (or sometimes four, or twelve, or twenty-two) for quite a while already. At least a couple of times a week, a stranger asks you something along the lines of "Are you four and a half yet?" And although it was oh-so-fun to reply smugly "No, she's still two," we're glad that we can say "three" now. The number suits you better.

Looking Up

As Claudia responds more, she's becoming ever more fun for you. You especially love to take care of her, which is gratifying to watch -- and hear, as you repeat oddly modified versions of our own words of comfort. (A recent example was "That's okay, that's okay big sister, honey honey!" Note that you call Claudia your 'big sister' these days, apparently in full awareness of the irony of that.) You do have an uncanny ability to calm her from one of her few crying jags: a certain way with the rattle.

At the same time, you're acting out a fair bit of sibling jealousy. It's not that you're ever mean to your sister -- at worst, you'll occasionally ask us to "put the baby down" when you want to play. Since she was born, though, you've frequently insisted on wearing "baby clothes," which means digging out some infant outfits and squeezing into them. Given a lot of elastic, some nice baby sweatpants have turned into very tight shorts on you, and we're sure you've startled many playground parents with your midriff-baring outfits.

In another unpleasant twist, you've lately begun to insist that you want to throw up -- just like Claudia spits up. You got a book meant to demystify medical problems -- lots of illustrations of happy children having their broken arms set in plaster -- and that got you started. No actual vomit yet, and for a while there you seemed pretty ticked off that we weren't letting you hurl.

You're still somewhat eccentric, even for a three-year old. Much to the consternation of your more compulsive friends, you always put marker caps back on the wrong color marker -- intentionally. (You'll go through a new pack switching them up and cackling.) We even noticed that you'd swapped the kid toothpaste cap with our grown-up toothpaste cap the other day (who even would have thought they'd be compatible?). We're unclear about where this impulse comes from: your daddy, at least, didn't regularly replace the toothpaste top at all until his middle teens.

Since Christmas, your favorite hobby has been wrapping presents. You can now accomplish the entire process -- get toy from room, fold toy in paper, wrap in thirteen yards of Scotch tape, place in gift bag -- with our help only in cutting the paper to size. Once you get that down, I expect that we'll need to order wrapping paper by the case; we already use a roll as a special reward for good cooperation. Everyone needs an artistic outlet, it seems.    

In other big news, we applied to nursery school this month. Sometime by September, if all goes well, you'll be doing two half-days a week at a local co-op. We have no worries about you -- you're incredibly independent and verbal. A couple of weeks ago when we asked if you needed any help with your Play-Doh cookery, you told us, "You just concentrate on your thing. I got it." It's as if Fern the teenager traveled back in time to take over your body.

So it's been a busy month and year, full of challenges, but also loads of fun every day. You're starting your fourth year now and we couldn't be more proud of how far you've come -- or more excited to see how you handle your further adventures in big-girldom.

We love you very, very much,

Mommy & Daddy

If you can't see the pictures below, click this link.