Dear Vera: 3 Years, 6-11 monthsBy Dawn Sailors In Dear Vera
Next month you will be four years old. That is so hard for me to believe. It seems like you couldn’t possibly have been hanging around for four years already. You’ll be starting Preschool as soon as you turn four too, and the thought that I have a child old enough to go to school is mind-boggling.
There are days when you seem so small, and I remember that you are still only three years old. A baby. And then there are days when you seem so much bigger. Bigger than your sister for sure, but bigger than your years. Smarter, older, more mature. You talk like a grown up, using expressions and words that sound humorous coming from such a tiny human. “Oh my goodness, Lucious, don’t be so annoying!” Said with all the inflection of a teenager when the cat is meowing to be let outside. You crack me up.
You’re also learning to control your temper better as you get older too. You start throwing a tantrum over not getting the pants you wanted to wear, lying on the floor, whining and crying. I tell you to calm down, that I can’t understand what you’re saying when you whine, and miraculously you calm, look at me teary-eyed and steadily say “I don’t like these pants please, Mommy.” Ok. I can deal with that, and you learn to use words instead of tantrums. It’s getting better all the time, fewer tantrums, more words.
Your favorite things right now are choices and opportunities to feel needed. I like to give you both as much as possible. You run to get diapers and wipes for me, you pick out June’s socks, you choose what shirt you want to wear, you pick out what books we read each night. Sometimes when I can’t decide which pair of earrings or shoes to wear, I just let you decide for me. You love it so much.
Something else you’ve started to really enjoy is playing dolls. This is interesting to me, because I can see your little brain creating make-believe scenarios with your dolls and it’s so fascinating. You even like to watch YouTube videos of other people playing with dolls, which is weird, but you love it. I try to limit your screen time, but letting you quietly watch your videos on the iPad for a few minutes while I put your sister to bed is how we get through basketball season when I’m single parenting multiple nights a week.
It’s been especially helpful to have something you enjoy that can distract you for a bit, since you’ve recently developed a very real fear of being by yourself. You refuse to go upstairs or downstairs alone, and even if we’re not in the same room, you call out for us over and over in 5 minute intervals just to make sure we’re close by. You seem to think we’re going to leave you alone in the house if you can’t see us. You don’t even like me to shut your car door before I open mine, just in case I walk off and leave you trapped in the car I guess. We’re working on letting you know every day that we have no plans to abandon you. One strange thing that has helped with this though, goes back to your desire to feel needed. If we’re getting ready to leave the house and I have to run back upstairs to grab something, your fear can be kept in check if I ask you to ‘babysit’ your sister for a minute while I’m out of sight. Apparently your sense of protectiveness trumps your fear of being alone. You like feeling like you’re in control.
You love to be creative, and anything to do with play dough, paint, markers, coloring, stickers, etc., will get you excited. You also like to help your dad cook. The official stirrer. You’re kind of a daddy’s girl, actually, and you like be around him as much as possible. You go to the gym with him on the weekends (and ‘workout’ in the gym daycare), you wrestle with him at night, ride around on his shoulders (ducking under doorways), play basketball in your little hoop, race in a circle around the house, and anything else the two of you come up with.
You LOVE your baby sister, and try daily to make her laugh. She loves you too, and will always smile when she sees you, or stop fussing if you sing to her. You give her toys and talk to her in the high-pitched tone of voice that a lot of grown ups use when talking to little kids. You call her ‘sweetie’ and rub her fuzzy head. You pretend she’s talking back to you and make me say out loud what you think she’s saying so that you can have a conversation with each other. A typical conversation:
V – “Hi, Sweetie! How was your day today?” And then in a completely different tone, “Mom, talk baby Spanish.” (Baby Spanish is your way of saying baby talk, because, like the Spanish cartoons you sometimes come across on your iPad, Baby it is a language you can’t speak or understand.)
D – “Hi, Vera. I had a good day.” (said in a baby voice)
V – “Oh that’s good, Sweetie. I missed you today! Do you want to play with your dollie? Here’s your dollie. Don’t bite her, Junie. No, no!”
And on like that.
Overall, you’re a very happy little girl, and you just love life. Your hair is getting longer now and you like me to braid it for you. One braid is an Elsa braid, two is an Anna Braid. Needless to say, the movie Frozen is big in your little world. You like to dress up in your princess dresses and have dance parties in the living room or perform music shows for everyone to watch.
We’re working on learning all your letters by sight and sound before you go to preschool next month, and you’re so smart and pick them up so quickly. You still have a few that you stumble over, and you tend to confuse numbers with letters sometime. Especially those pesky 3’s and E’s. Tricky. But you’re getting there. I’m sure you’ll be reading before I know it.
I love you so much, baby girl. Don’t grow up too fast.