Tobias, Eleanor and Callista, my loves,
Isn’t it strange how we measure our age? You’re three years old, but today marks the start of your fourth year. You’ll celebrate your fourth Thanksgiving next week, and we’ll start preparing for your fourth Christmas after that. Technically, this is even your fourth birthday, if we include your actual birth day.
Let’s just stick to 3 for now, okay?
So much has changed in the last year that I don’t even know where to start. You have certainly discovered your independence, and we all have strengthened our patience because of it – you included since you all like to try to help one another but don’t always like to receive help. One of your top requests lately is to say, “I want to do a helper,” which means you want to help me with something. You hover about my feet constantly, begging tasks off me. It can be great, but I always have to come up with three tasks so everyone has something to do, lest I am forced to break up a triplet-traffic accident as you all race to do the thing that was requested. We sometimes have individual, whispered “helper” jobs to
save my sanity sprinkle in the occasional individual activity.
I was taking one of you on a solo date once or twice a week earlier in your year, but these last six months have been ultra competitive, if that’s even the right word. Whatever it is, you aren’t happy unless you get to do the same thing(s) as each other pretty much rightthissecond. There’s often no convincing you that you’ll have a turn next week or that one experience is equal to them all. I always say I’ll try going back to solo dates (sorry, singleton parents – taking one 2-year-old in public is So! Easy!), but you continually shut it down. Maybe next time, right?
You love to talk about when you were tiny babies in the MICU (that’s right, it’s mick, like the mouse), but I think your time progression knowledge is skewed, since you like to tell me you’ll hold me when I’m a tiny baby in the MICU. You also tell me you’re going to cook dinner for me when you’re bigger, so not all future talk is wonky.
I’ve shared less of you with the world this year in some ways, writing only a little of your lives here, but I think I’ve done a fair job recording you in pictures and video. I just hope those can tell the stories I’ve been too busy to record or just too selfish to share. You’re my only babies, this is my only shot, and I hope I don’t have any regrets with balancing your privacy and my accounts.
Toby, you love: dancing, singing (you sing along to anything, even if you don’t know the words), hopping/jumping, coloring, reading, cuddles, your blankie (which has become my doctor, “Talk to Dr. Blankie, Mama.”), writing letters – especially T, stealing sips from any forbidden drink (fortunately no alcohol yet, but no coffee is safe), waving to people in public, any electronic device, “Doing work with my tools,” aka tapping/grabbing/touching things with your plastic hammer/wrench/pliers set, playing catch and playing pretend (school, going to the library/Ikea/Best Buy/Trader Joe’s). Your favorite foods are oatmeal and spaghetti (fa-deddy), and you’ll pretty much do anything for a treat, whether it’s fruit, candy or frozen yogurt tubes. You don’t like when I count or set timers in order to complete a task – you panic and get anxious – and you really don’t like being disciplined – it both makes you angry and sad.
Eleanor, you love: moving (jumping, skipping (which is more of a gallop, but who am I to take you down a peg?), dancing, running, wiggling, etc.), playing catch, kicking balls, doing somersaults, making noise (I don’t think you’re ever quiet) and sucking your fingers while rubbing your sheet as you fall asleep. You love to be on the go, and I worry that you don’t enjoy the moment because you’re forever asking what we’re doing next. You are the one most often at my feet in the kitchen, and you long for the day when you take over at the stove. You are the leader of your little pack, sometimes bending your knees and clapping your hands while saying, “Come here!” to your brother and sister. You always have ideas of what to do next while playing at home. On the flip side, you admire your sister and like to piggyback her decisions when your own indecisiveness makes us both give up. Whether it’s hair styles or food choices, Callista’s choices are often exactly what you didn’t know you wanted. You don’t like to be told no and will argue for a yes “But I really, really want/need ______”) until the cows come home or we give in, whichever comes first. You’re shy with people who aren’t familiar, and you sometimes refuse to sing or dance because we’re watching – not rudely, just coyly. Your favorite foods are spaghetti, scrambled eggs and any kind of fruit.
Callista, you love: coloring/drawing, singing, dancing, reading, doing things by yourself, playing quietly with dolls or stuffed animals, playing catch, cuddling, telling secrets (you just say, “ssssssss” in our ears), telling us how things are going to pan out (you always finish your presentation with, “all right?”), being at home, building blocks and playing dress-up. You are stubborn and sneaky, and there is no changing your mind. If you truly don’t want to do something, you don’t do it. Ever. You all started dance class this fall, and you cried about going for the first few weeks. You loved it once you were settled in class, but each journey out was full of tears and “I don’t like going to dance class.” You eventually got over the hump and found you loved it from start to finish. I have to nudge you a lot because of your stubborn ways, from dance class to new foods. I’m still able to convince you to try if I can tell you’re actually wavering, but it’s clear when that little foot goes down that my efforts are a lost cause. It must be nice to know yourself so well so early. Your favorite foods are spaghetti and bread – you’re a carb lover just like your mama.
You all are currently obsessed with watching the movie Mamma Mia, and I hear more ABBA music than I care to. I almost have the whole show memorized, and I certainly know the entire soundtrack. I continue to watch and listen, though, because getting those songs stuck in my head for days is worth watching you sing, dance and act out the scenes. You “play” Mamma Mia and often run through the house calling, “Sophie!” and you all have songs you’ve declared as your own – Toby loves Honey, Honey, Eleanor loves Super Trouper, and Callista loves Dancing Queen.
I’d say it’s been a rough year because it’s certainly been my most challenging, but it hasn’t been negative overall. There are days when I threaten to sell you to the circus (“But I don’t want to go to the circus!” – I’ve probably started a complex), but for all the crazy you put out, you squeeze all the love and happiness you can out of life, and I can’t say I’ve gone a day this year without you making me laugh and smile.
Being your mama is the best and biggest challenge I’ve ever received, but the pride in watching you grow and learn is the best and biggest reward I’ve encountered. I wish you a hearty congratulations on conquering three full years of life, and it’s my pleasure to lead you into your fourth and what I hope is the happiest yet.
All my love, forever and ever,