At three o'clock this morning, Lyra came into my room. She sobbed, "You need to give me one hundred kisses and let me sleep in a hug!" as she climbed into my bed and cuddled against me. She rooted around to nurse, and then settled back to sleep. In the morning, she woke up all smiles, but when I told her she was officially three-and-a-half years old today she stomped her foot and argued, “No, I am not. I am just! Three! I am never going to be any other number ever!”
She is such a cuddler, this one, wrapping around her arms around my neck and resting her head on my shoulder when I lift her up, pulling me or Brian or her teacher or the mother of one of her friends closer for a kiss. She proclaims her love for me, for Brian, for all of our relatives and friends.
But she’s also my wild thing, my goofball. She sees me with a camera and begins to make silly faces, or shove both her fingers up her nose. She makes up silly songs and rhymes, making sure to use the word “poop” as often as possible. She speaks in funny voices and does funny dances. She jumps off of things and onto things. She crashes into people and furniture and walls. She has mastered the Mini Kick scooter that used to belong to her sister, except for the brake; she insists it’s easier to just jump off of it or crash it into any nearby pole, fence, or tree if she needs to come to a quick stop.
I have to tell her things that I never imagined one had to be told. The other night I found her lying on my bed naked doing something weird with her feet and she told me (when I asked what she was doing) "There's this hole in the middle of my bottom, so I'm trying to put my big toe in it." Upon further questioning she told me "I can put my finger in it, but not my elbow." So I talked to her about not putting things into her bottom, made her go wash her hands, and thought that would be enough. Then she was naked this evening (it's hot here) and we were having curry and rice for dinner, and I left the table for a minute and found her sticking rice to her butt. It was very sticky rice, so apparently she had to see if it would stick to her bum? That seemed to be her logic anyhow. Also: "But it's on the *outside* of my bum! Not in the hole that the poop comes from!" Which I guess was meant to be good news. I laughed until I cried.
She’s rarely shy. One day last week she turned to a teenage girl in line at Starbucks and said, “You are so pretty. Do you want to be my babysitter?” She’ll tell anyone who asks her name and how old she is and what she likes to do. In France last month she hammed when she caught anonymous tourists snapping her photo and jabbered away in English when little old ladies pinched her cheeks and spoke to her in French. She seems to be a true extrovert, thriving as the center of attention, really needing to be around people, coming home from birthday parties and playgroups energetic than she’d started out. That can be a challenge for me, but we try to find a balance and both manage to have fun.
She still seems to easily blur the line between reality and pretend. It’s amusing to me that she can be brave about so many things--going new places, jumping off of things I wish she hadn’t climbed in the first place, and running full speed ahead--that it surprises me how easily frightened she can be. She doesn’t like games in which someone pretends to be a monster. If I walk away from Adriana throwing a fit in public, Lyra believes I am truly leaving her sister behind and then she falls apart too. I have to be careful about what I let her watch. There have been episodes of Go Diego Go that were too frightening for her. We watched Cinderella together and she was nervous about the shrill stepsisters and absolutely petrified by the cat who chases all the mice. It was interesting to watch her watch those parts of the movie and then to watch her pretend she was that cat when she was in a foul mood the next day. I also let her watch Milo and Otis, which I remembered as a sweet, mild movie. I was desperate to take a nap that day, and I thought it would be a good distraction for the girls. But I ended up sitting with them watching it because Lyra was so frightened (but also curious enough that she didn’t want to turn it off) that she needed to be in physical contact with me throughout the entire movie. Her fear began as the kitten was floating in a box down a river while a bear cub followed along on the shore. The worst part was when the cat was walking along train tracks, oblivious to the approaching train. As the train drew near, Lyra through herself against the back of the couch, arms wide spread out, eyes glued to the screen, and mouth wide open in a silent scream. (Spoiler warning: the cat was FINE.) It was sad, but also, honestly, hilarious.
Adriana sat for long stories from a very early age and was usually pretty good at entertaining herself. Lyra still can’t sit for an entire chapter of a Winnie-the-Pooh book (I remember reading an entire Pooh book to Adriana in a single sitting when she was this age), but she is getting better at playing by herself. She’ll get out blocks to build a tower without even my encouragement. I find her playing some sort of house game with dolls and stuffed animals. She sings little songs while she plays, just like Frances I sometimes think, but she scolds me and shoos me away if she catches me trying to listen. She memorizes books easily and then will sit and “read” them to herself.
I remember when Adriana was about 2.5 and I realized I wasn’t writing my monthly posts about her development anymore. I thought then of a couple of sentences to sum her up. I would periodically think up new little descriptions, and now I find myself doing it for Lyra: She loves trucks and animals and baseball. She is small and cuddly and full of energy and giggles. And she is my baby who is not a baby anymore but is so perfectly herself instead (and also still totally my baby).