Alice, My Little Miss Sassafras

Alice, you are three. THREE! I know, I'm so cliche, but where did the time go? I spent some time this week reading your journal and looking at old videos and photos of you - back when you couldn't talk...or talk back - and you were such a dollie. I see little glimmerings of the girl you are now in the baby and toddler you were then. 

Other notes? You are as independent as ever. And bossy. And sassy. Oh, the sass! It's more than I can handle some days. We were playing make believe in the Narnia closet with Jack and Milo the other morning and you were Alice the Queen on a throne of cardboard bricks.
This conversation actually happened: 

Me: "Queen Alice, what quest should we go on today?"
You (in your best British accent): "Call me...Your Majesty."

!!! I was simultaneously annoyed and proud of you for reaching a new level of role playing. I couldn't help but smile. Okay, Your Majesty, we can pretend. Just remember that outside of this closet, I am MAMA, and I'm the boss.

Along with your knack for pretend is dress up. It has been the one thing I have been waiting for your whole life to be interested in. At any given moment you are Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Angelina Ballerina, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Mommy, Marty, and many many more. I have a basket in the playroom full of my old scarves, some hats, jewelry, gloves, a vest, and anything else that might help in your imaginings. The other day I found the sweetest blue vintage apron in mint condition (and it has pockets!) and it is the perfect dress on you. You lift up your arms and we tie it around your chest instead of your waist and you look like Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland - whichever you're feeling.

You wear skirts. Every single day. You pick all the red raspberries and gobble them up. You play with Milo and mother him, too. You draw people with arms and legs. You twirl and dance and hope everyone is watching (definitely a little performer). You still thank God for goblins and laughing trees. You love to turn your jump rope into a dog leash, a tight rope, a reindeer harness, a puller, and just about anything your little imagination wants (but the rule is that it can never ever never go around Milo or a neck). You fold diapers. You still love rocking a post-bath mohawk. You have legs for days. People never believe me when I would say you were two, and now three. You have the height and articulation of a 4+ year old. You are always singing and humming a tune, whether it's Bob the Builder or another show's theme song. You still run through the house like an elephant. (If I tell you to tip-toe, you're quiet, but otherwise you sprint everywhere, hard-footed.) You love to make Milo giggle. You squeeze Milo's cheeks together and say "funny face!" which makes you both laugh.

I am hoping your sass and spirit will keep you from falling under the influence of peer pressure someday. I try to remember the value of a girl who knows her own mind, but in some moments I'd rather you were just an obedient little automaton. Mostly just when you are throwing an epic tantrum on the floor, kicking and screaming because I got to the bottom of the stairs one step before you or Milo ate one of your cheerios or there was a pepper in your breakfast burrito. Those moments, I just sigh and roll my eyes and leave you be til you're spent. And then it's like someone replaces you with a polite, well-mannered little person saying things like "Mama, may I please have a cherry?" in your sweetest voice like you didn't just scream bloody murder for 5 straight minutes. It's some switch in you that I haven't found yet.

One of the reasons we clash so much is because you are just like me. We are oranges. We breathe freedom. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. But sometimes our wills aren't aligned, and that is when we have issues.

As a child, you are having a hard (slow) time learning obedience - listening to mommy and daddy and doing what we ask. We started teaching you the word and concept about a year ago and we struggle with it everyday. Submission isn't easy - I know, I was in your place once upon a time and we oranges especially loathe it. But it's an important thing to learn. And there are times when I pick our battles and compromise so you don't feel like you're always losing. It's not about winning and losing, but it feels like it sometimes. So at bedtime, if I'm reading you a story and you beg for one more book, I'll read one more book but tell you as soon as it's over you need to go to bed. And you do. If I don't read it to you, it's a meltdown and an extra 20 minutes of calming you down from your hysterics and potentially waking up Milo. Sometimes it's just not worth it.

We are so fortunate to be able to stay home and not rush off anywhere. I've learned our most stressful moments are when we are leaving the house and need to be somewhere on time. Breakfast usually happens between 9 and 10 a.m., lunch varies between 1 and 2, and nothing but playtime in between. Our lives are pretty low stress aside from generally taking care of the home, but those times we have to go somewhere and people are waiting on us, we are always late. It's like you can sense the urgency of needing to go and you immediately dig in your heels. You are the queen of dilly-dallying, meandering all over, slowly getting your shoes on, doing everything you can to resist being herded out the door. It. Is. Maddening. Those moments make me all the more glad that I don't work or have to take you to daycare. Instead, we can have a leisurely time and hence, less tantrums - for both of us.

Some cute things? You hug everyone who visits us - every single friend and acquaintance (including Terry the plumber and even the Mormon boys last night) - and insist on gifting them the sweetest of kisses on the cheek. One older lady we visited looked like she could cry for happiness when you wrapped your arms around her neck and planted a light smooch on her upturned countenance. You smile at strangers and shout "Hello, Neighbor!" whenever we see someone outside. They love you. When we see other little kids out and about, you practically hum with excitement and eagerly skip over to meet them. One little girl we saw with her mommy at the post office became your friend. You were both eyeing each other with coy smiles and once you walked up to her, you held hands first and then started telling each other your names. My heart turned to goo, and I'll never forget how you two just looked down at your clasped hands, then back at each others faces and how you beamed. After getting in the car, you couldn't stop chattering about your new friend. I've told you for a long time that the reason God made us was so that we would make friends (a three year old understanding of loving others). You light up anytime I tell you how much it pleases me, and God.

You broke your umbrella the other day. It was your favorite toy and lately you have been playing with your things hard. And carelessly. It broke beyond repair and we had to throw it away. You said, "It's okay, Mama, you can just buy be a new one." It made me sad, because we've been trying to raise you to not think of everything as disposable, or that you're entitled to new things, especially when you haven't taken care of your belongings. I told you that no, you would not be getting a new one. You did not deserve a new one, because you didn't take care of your old one. That got your attention. We're practicing being gentler to our things now, and the new deal is that if you can show me you are responsible with the things you have, then someday you might get a new umbrella. You like this new plan.

You love adventures and "jobs." I can get you to do anything if I tell you it's a job (I'm so sneaky). "Alice, please take this to the recycling bin and I'll tell you what your next job is." "Okay!!! What is it?! What is it?! What's the next job?!!!!" "I'll tell you when you get back." Thump thump thump thump. And back. "What's my job, Mama?!" "Your next job is to bring me a diaper." "Okay!!!" And on we go. You just love to do stuff.

And errands are adventures, too. Pretty much anything that requires leaving the house is qualified as an adventure. You get so excited to "go out." We'll be on an adventure to the hardware store or to the grocery store, and you will ask while we are out, "Mama, where are we going next?" If I say that we are going to another place, you say, "Goodie! Goodie!!" but if I say home, you say, "No, Mama, I don't want to go home yet. Let's go to one more place." We could be out all day and you still would prefer to stay out longer. I am quite the same way (funny I'm a stay at home mom, huh?) and you were certainly aptly named after your Gramma Alice. Adventure is in her blood and bones. Hopefully you will inherit our sense of direction as well (and your daddy's sense of time - I have none - "I'll be home in 15 minutes" usually translates to 1 hour).

Whenever I play music with bagpipes or drums and an upbeat tune, you immediately rush to grab my hand and lead me to the living room because "Mama, it's a twirling song!"

I hope you never stop reaching for me when you want to dance. Or cry. Or pretend. Or build.

I cherish you, Alice. You are a complex little person full of "spirit, fire, and dew" as L.M. Montgomery would say, and I love you for it. I'm proud of who you are already and I only hope God lets me and your daddy continue to see the little woman you're becoming.

I love you, Little Bear.

xoxo
Mama