Yesterday, I was emptying the dishwasher. Ellis sat at the kitchen table coloring and watching me. As I picked up a bowl and opened the cupboard door, Ellis shouted, “Two hands!”
“What?” I asked.
“Two hands, mom. Or else, you drop it.”
Last week, I had broken a bowl doing just that same thing. Game. Set. Three year old.
This week she sobbed because a friend of hers mixed her paint colors. Also, every time she spills a little water on her gowns (she only wears gowns) she throws her head back and wails, “Oh no! It ruined! Everyfing ruined!” And then, she gets mad when you laugh at her and tell her it will dry. In this exchange, I see my future.
On a side note: Because of rampant illness this past month, like many American families, we’ve been watching “Frozen” almost on loop. It’s ridiculous. It’s consumed us. Ellis and I have a pretty good “Love is an Open Door” duo going. I can sing the song to the bonus feature and Dave and I have been discussing aspects of the movie, like the character development of Hans, instead of talking about real things like why the floor is sticky and where the hell is that plane? Three nights ago, Dave decided that he approved of the Midwestern values espoused by the movie: Conceal, don’t feel. And he decided that we needed to teach our children a little bit more about good, old-fashioned Norwegian repression. Seeing as how getting cheeto dust on her fingers calls for full on tears of anguish, I agree.
Three is big. She is no longer a toddler. And we’ve been talking about how the pacifier fairy will come to take her pacifiers and leave, in their place, a big gown. The pacifier fairy hasn’t come quiet yet, because she heard that Ellis has been sick for almost a month straight and the pacifier fairy didn’t want Ellis’ mom to lose her ever-loving mind. Good old, pacifier fairy.
She’s also been telling us that we need a bigger house, because she’s going to grow “bigger, bigger, up to da sky!” She needs a bigger cup because she’s big. She needs bigger clothes because she’s big. But at night, before bed, she insists, she’s still “wittle, still berry wittle.” Today, at breakfast she broke it down for me. “I a little bit big, but not totally big.”
She is also the world’s best big sister. We’ve been sleep training Jude (yes, again, for the fifth time, that kid) and last night, as he cried at three in the morning, I could hear Ellis calling from her room, “Bubby! I sing for you! TWINKLE TWINKLE WIDDLE STAR! Dat help bubby? TWINKLE! TWINKLE!”
It didn’t. But it was sweet. And she is sweet to him. Today, while he was playing on her floor and I was putting away clothes, she dumped all her doll stuff in his lap, so he wouldn’t have to be alone. When he started chewing the hair of Pinkalicious, she said, “It okay, mom. I just sharing wif him.”
Yesterday, he was crying in the bathroom while I brushed my teeth. She ran in and said, “Bubs, you don’t need to cry. Your princess will aways be here and always protect you.”
He stared at her for a brief moment before he resumed wailing.
“Mom,” Ellis said, “I can’t handle dis crying. I’m leaving bubs.”
She calls him her “bubby” and likes to explain everything to him from how you eat Cheerios (“Just put dem in your mouf!”) to how babies come out (“Dey get pooped out! Is dat silly?”). She also get’s mad at him for not following the rules, like when he wiggles and kicks her, she shakes her finger and says, “Bubs, we don’t kick people in dis house!”
Then, he laughs. How he loves her. She can always make him ridiculously happy. Until she terrifies him. But usually, he’s happy just to see her in the same room as him. Just to have her hand him a toy. And these are the things I’m going to cling to when they are randomly checking each other into walls.
She’s begun lugging notebooks around with her and scribbling in them with pens. She asks me how to spell Ellis, Daddy and Cinderella. I tell her and she repeats the letters back to me. Then, she says she’s writing things and I need to leave her alone. I think this is my revenge. It’s coming. I’m not afraid. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.
We often have the fight where, I’m telling her to set the table and she says she can’t because she set it “lasterday” and I say, “don’t fight with me.” And she says, “I’m not fighting!”
“Yes you are.”
“No, I not!”
“I just telling you I did it lasterday!”
I lose. I lose every time.
And as I write that, it occurs to me that it’s getting close to time to start editing more what I share about her on the internet. In January, I started a journal for both Jude and Ellis and I fill it with the little things I notice about them during the day, things I want to remember. Things I want them to know. Their brilliant moments. Their intense sweetness and silliness. And sure, sometimes hilarious poop incidents. Things that probably shouldn’t go up on the internet, or many other places really.
I love the person she is becoming. I love how silly she is. How precocious. How determined and how law-abiding. During our 150th showing of “Frozen” she said, “Princess Anna jumping on da couch and dat not good. She need to go to time out.”
“Exactly right,” I said. Speak truth to power, girlfriend.
I love her persnicketyness. Her insistence on ball gowns and high heels. And how she loves to cheer people up. “Don’t be sad,” she tells me when I’m frustrated, “I’ll feel you better!” And then she smiles and then it works.
Happy birthday, three year old.