"Clare loves to play hide and seek. She enjoys playing with the doll house at school. Her heart is happy when Christopher hugs her. She loves to eat strawberries. Clare wants to be a teacher when she grows up. We will miss her stories that she shares in class."
When we heard that last line, Ben and I looked at each other. What stories is she sharing in class? Not that there is anything particularly bad that she could say about us. Except that Mommy likes martinis.
There's no denying this has been a tough year. People talk about the terrible twos, but I think they're wrong. It is most definitely the terrible, no-good threes. Despite all of that, though, I am so proud of my little girl. She is smart, funny, kind, creative and fun. I sometimes forget that she is only just turning four. She talks like a much older kid. Maybe that was part of the struggle this year. I expected her to behave a certain way, and she just wasn't ready to do that. There was a moment a few weeks ago when she was upset about something, and her tear-streaked face made her look like she did when she was a baby. It reminded me that she is still just a little kid. I should also say that she is a really well-behaved kid for everyone except me. She did not have a single behavioral problem at school. The only criticism her teacher had was that she sometimes "spaces out" during rug time. I didn't say this to the teacher, but my guess is she loses focus because she is bored.
Her mind is just going constantly. Have you seen that Louis CK stand-up where he talks about kids asking why? If not, go watch it. It is hysterical. (Warning: inappropriate language, not safe for work.) That has been me this year. Clare wants to know everything about everything. And she knows so much. She remembers almost everything you tell her. Except that it's time to turn off the TV and go take a nap.
One of my favorite things right now is watching Clare play with Christopher. She is so sweet to him, and they play together pretty well, actually. I just love watching them interact. She has been very generous to Christopher, letting him carry around her Big Bird doll. He has become very attached to it. She calls Christopher "Buddy" nearly 100 percent of the time. (Christopher's middle name, Lewis, comes from Ben's grandpa. Ben's grandpa was also known as Buddy to his family.)
Clare has very specific ideas for how things are supposed to be. This includes playing tea party, or anything else, for that matter. She can be very bossy. I can already see what will happen a year or two from now: Clare will painstakingly set up some activity, and Christopher and Josie will take great delight in destroying it or otherwise thwarting Clare's plans. All well, she'll need to learn how to cope with this sometime.
She is still anxious and has many fears, but she is learning to manage them. I also understand her temperament much better now, so I feel like I can help her better prepare for new or potentially scary situations. (Except when I take her on a log chute ride with terrifying statues.)
She still loves being outside: the slide, the swings, playing catch, helping water plants, riding her bike, riding her scooter. Anything. She runs with a pack of boys, and keeps up with them just fine. She is a pretty fast runner, actually. She is able to ride her bike to our neighborhood park, which is about six blocks away.
Her other favorite things are art and books. She colors, paints, plays with stickers, and makes creations with play doh. She has about a hundred books in her room and has many of them memorized. She has too many favorites to pick just one, but she loves "Madeline" and "Miss Rumphius."
Her favorite TV shows right now are "Sid the Science Kid" and "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." She is still a super picky eater. For example: she loves cheese, pasta and tomatoes, but will not eat lasagna. She doesn't like pizza. No food can touch or be combined. We are slowly working through this. Her favorite foods are frozen mango, sweet potato fries (homemade, so they are actually baked, not fried), and refried beans. She also loves cereal. Her best friend at school was Ella, who I heard about daily. Outside of school, her best friends are Simon, James, Benjamin, and Brendon. (Brendon told his mom he and Clare are probably going to get married.)
And now she is four. I have a four-year-old. As we all know and say constantly: where did the time go?
Happy birthday, sweet Clare. I hope this year is full of fun.
|She requested this pose.|
|I see both of these particular facial expressions a lot. Clare was upset because Buddy sat on top of his moose rather than next to his moose.|
|She decided to join in. (And those are bruises, not dirt, on her legs.)|
|With one of her favorite people, cousin Josie.|
|Goofballs at the Aquarium.|
|Sharing a popsicle at our favorite park.|
|On her last day of preschool.|