Sunday, October 30, 2011

tippy toe walking through year 3.

Dear Melissa,

Today, you're three. Three! Can you believe it?? Man, this time three years ago, I was pushing. And pushing and pushing. Who knew I was such a good pusher?? We had a really sweet mid-wife, but now I can't remember her name. I remember she had blonde hair, a sweet and soft voice, and looked like she participated in beauty pageants with titles like "Southern Miss Tater Tot Queen." But she turned out to be so much stronger than that; never ever judge a book by its cover.  Because when it was time to really get serious and push you out, she was anything but sweet and pageant-ly; she was completely in command and in control. And I really, really needed that, three years ago today (and also, apparently: a seriously big oxygen were sucking the very life out of me).

Anyway, I needed cool, calm, collected people around me as I had no idea what I was doing. (Confession #1: I still have no idea what I'm doing, with this parenting gig; but it's cool. I like flying by the seat of my pants...unless we're in the car and well, I know you know how mommy feels about that. I can see you're already walking around, nursing a healthy amount of pre-school road rage toward strange drivers on the road, and so I know driving lessons in 13 years are going to go absolutely smoothly...other drivers are crazy, and that's pretty much all you need to know before venturing forth onto Atlanta's freeways).

You've grown so much over the last three years. Some times I think about how you were when we first brought you home, which, if I had to use a summarizing, over all, very generalizing word? Overwhelming. Sorry, m'am, but you were. You were absolutely, completely overwhelming. You made all these little drunk guy faces (highly amusing), you were unpredictable (not as amusing), and your need for breast milk was constant and unrelentless (absolutely,  completely the opposite of amusing).

When we left the hospital, I remember the nurse wheeled us downstairs, into the beautifully sunny, chilly October Sunday afternoon air, and said, "Congratulations, good luck!" And I was all: "Holy moly! They're just letting us take this completely helpless little thing home with us? Like we're baby raising experts? Geez, I hope nobody gets hurt." And then, later, sometimes, late at night, I wondered: what the holy heck have I just done to myself?? And then other times, we'd lay together on the sofa and I'd watch you sleep, and I'd think: "Wow. I kind of made you and stuff. That's so frickin' amazing."

Confession #2: Sometimes I watch you sleep at night, 3 years later, and still can't believe you and I were once one; that you were once a part of me and I was a part of you. And that I, you know, kind of made you and stuff. So frickin' amazing.

And now here you are! You've mastered crawling, you're exiting Phase Toddler, you're walking and running and skipping (like a ballerina, mostly, insisting on getting around the world on your tippy toes, almost exclusively). Hopefully, we won't have to, like, slit your achilles tendon to stretch out those heel muscles like the one physical therapist lady your dad bumped into several months ago said we'd have to do if you didn't start walking flat on your feet...what was up with that chick anyway?? Why the heck would some stranger think it was okay to send your dad into fits of neurotic fear thoughts about the slitting of feet when everyone in the Universe knows how he is about that body area? Plus, now that woman has both of us and all your teachers constantly saying things like: "Walk on your feet, honey." and "Flat feet, remember: Flat feet."

Which is just so flippin' silly because I can so see this from your viewpoint: Uh, hello, mommy and daddy, I AM walking on my feet. Yes, Ms. B, I'm ON my feet. My silly tippy toe feet!) (Though I do think you may end up with some awe-inspiring calf muscles in a few years) (and please know: I often consider tippy toe walking through life right with you--awesome calf muscles are nothing to turn one's nose up at).

Oh, and you are absolutely, without a doubt potty trained more mortifying, unhygienic moments at McDonald's playlands now. (Though I do sincerely wish you would stop being afraid of empty bathrooms in our house and learn to go by yourself...while I'm thankful I can finally do my own business solo, now it's flip flopped, and I'm sitting on the bathroom floor while you do your business. And I'm doing bizarre things like talking to your tummy, begging your pee pee to stop hiding and I say goofball things like come out come out, come out wherever you are, Melissa's silly pee pee) (Though I must say you appear to have amazing Kegel muscles).

What else are you doing now as a big, grown up three year old big girl? Oh yes. You're a critic. A natural-born, argumentative critic who gets indignant about quite a lot. If I say the sky is up, you insist it's down. If I note out loud what a happy girl you are, you yell "NO Mommy! I'm a MAD girl!" And you get so ticked off if someone looks at you at just the wrong moment, and no one can tell when or where or why that moment will be. For some reason only you know, you think being a mad girl is going to get you places. And you know what? You go, mad girl. Because sometimes I wish I had more mad girl in me, too. Saying "No" is not a fear for you, being a people pleaser is simply not part of your repetoire right now, and I like that about you.

You are afraid of Tasha, for some odd reason. You know: Tasha, our gentle, ancient, aging black cat who sleeps 15 out 24 hours per day and is afraid of bugs. The one who walks through the house at 3 am mourning her life and occasionally throwing up on everything. I suppose she's the closest thing you'll ever have to a sibling. Tasha is basically just your big, dorky, annoying, little sister. And sometimes you'll sit on our couch, look over and see Tasha licking herself, and you'll let out a blood curdling scream. And when we ask you, "Melissa, why are you screaming at Tasha?" you usually respond with, "Because I scared of Tasha. Tasha is the big bad wolf." (Okay, fine. She is kind of spooky--especially when all the lights are off and she jumps out of a corner at you and you had no idea that was coming...or when all the lights are on, but she's lying in a dark corner of the hallway and all you can see are her ghostly yellow I think the next time I see Tasha I'll scream in her general direction, too.)

Man, Melissa. The Big Bad Wolf...this is a running theme for you right now, and you have a love/hate relationship with this scary guy. You love to act out the 3 Little Pigs story, and you're getting so awesome at the re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. But you're reluctant to go anywhere there's even the remotest chance of bumping into the Big Bad Wolf in a dark corner. And apparently, the Big Bad Wolf runs our house once the sun sets.

Or even after the sun rises: this morning the sun was shining brilliantly but the bathroom simply wasn't quite bright enough; you were sure the Big Bad Wolf (aka Tasha) was waiting in the depths to pounce on you.

But please know: I so totally get you! Because honestly, I can't go into that bathroom either without  flicking on a light. What is up with that room? And YES! The upstairs part of our house IS totally creepy! I don't know what that is. It could be some weird vibes from your dad's office area. Or maybe on one of my ghost hunting adventures I inadvertantly brought something home. We'll never know, and your dad says we can't move right now, the timing's wrong and the housing market bubble bursting has made our house worth cat poop. So we'll do some spiritual cleansing rituals up there when it's time for us to kick you out of our bed; I'm not sure these actually work, but at this point, anything will help. I'm tired of waking up with your feet in my face.

Also, some nights, when your dad is out of town on a business trip, you know: we sleep with almost all the lights on in the house. I'm sorry, sweet girl. I've totally passed on my irrational fear of ghosts and bumps in the night on to you. Plus, I watch way too many episodes of Ghosthunters and Ghosthunters International. Though I do stay away from that over the top stuff, like Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures. One day, after you've conquered all your irrational fears, we'll watch it together and talk about scientific ghost hunting vs. travel channel crap ghost hunting. There's a huge difference.

Today, I'm taking you to the Fox Theatre to see Brobee, Foofa, Tootie, Plex, Muno, and DJ Lance of Yo Gabba Gabba. You love these bizarre monsters and I have no frickin' idea why. I mean, I get DJ Lance--he's kinda funky, a coolio hipster kind of guy. But that one eyed red monster-y guy? And the green unibrow dude? Who you're absolutely in love with? Oh dear.

Also, you're obsessed with Dora, Diego, Elmo, and several Disney Princesses and Fairies. I'm currently most concerned about your fascination with the Princesses. The red phallic-like and unibrow monsters I can deal with; even the fairies I get. Fairies are sort of cool, with their magical powers and sparkly wings. But pink tiaras, Melissa?? Seriously. And princesses??? I'm worried we're only 3 years in and I've already failed you...who frickin' introduced you to Disney's version of a princess??? Don't say it! Do not say it. I totally have that daycare kid's name and face in my head right now. You are SO not going to her next birthday party, I don't care if she has 10 pinatas, free pony rides, and a real train. Wrong-headed peer pressure: it starts so early for 21st century kids.

But I'm glad you're a 21st century kid! You're going to have an amazing life. And what I want most for you, what I imagine for you at this point, is really just a life filled with curiosity, being unafraid to ask questions and take risks, make mistakes and learn from them, take stuff apart and learn how it works. And I want you to try anything you want to try--even if you want to wear pink tutus and dance ballet. And don't even worry if the genetic pool you got has you ending up with the opposite of a ballerina's body (because who the heck is really happy in a ballerina's body anyway...I'm sure you could poll any ballerina and they'd be really sad about how many cupcakes they consistently miss out on). And! Tippy toe walking could be our sign you are actually headed to the New York City Ballet (just please: not as a princess).

You're smart. You're sure of yourself. You're independent and--other than bathroom trips--fairly self-reliant. You're going places, and I'm so glad the Universe picked me to be your mommy to guide you through it all. Oh, and you're an obsessive milk drinker (it's the only thing you want to drink right now), so I know you'll grow up with really calcium-fortified bones. And that's good.

I love you, sweet Melissa. And I'm so proud of you and all you've learned and accomplished over the last 3 years. I know you're proud of you, too. You're growing up into a really awesome kid who's going to do great things, and I'm really happy I get to go along for the ride.

Happy birthday and love,

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