Three to Four
Today I dropped three year old Bear off at her mum’s for the last time. When I next see her, she will be four. I hate that I won’t be there when she wakes up on her birthday morning as I can imagine the excitement in her voice when she asks for the final time, “Is today my birthday?”, her eyes ablaze with the magic of birthdays that early childhood conjures.
Last year, we were at Camp Bestival, dancing, singing and laughing through an entire weekend of fun. This year, our family is cut in half and so is our time together. Despite Sunday not being ‘my day’, I do get to spend time with Bear as we will go to the local carnival as a family and follow this with dinner somewhere, and then on Monday we’ll host her party, shared with a nursery friend who is just hours younger than her.
As I look back on the year that’s gone, I can still see snippets of the baby I had, but she is mixed up with a little girl who loves to laugh and dance. The baby still isn’t dry at night and wants to wear pull-ups, but the little girl has fantastic bladder control in daylight hours, that outshines even her big sister.
The baby still has tantrums when she doesn’t get her own (mostly irrational) way, but the little girl calms down quickly with a cuddle and a kiss. The baby wants to go upstairs first, leave the house first, get in the car first; the little girl can be reasoned with when it’s not always practical or possible.
The baby still wants to be carried or ride in the pushchair, while the little girl wants to zoom along the seafront on her balance bike, feet perched on the frame to maximise the speed. The baby wants me to read her stories from books, while the little girl is enjoying identifying letter sounds and challenging her sister to counting games. The baby wants me to help her with her dinner but the little girl wants to pour her own milk, and not wear a bib.
The baby wants help getting dressed; the little girl wants to do it herself. The baby wants me to wipe her bottom, but the little girl wants to wash her own hands and face and put toothpaste on her toothbrush herself.
As we bridge the gap between babyhood and childhood, I am glad to note that one thing hasn’t changed yet. She still wants lots of mummy cuddles and kisses. She will sleep nearly all night in her own bed, but comes through around 6am to climb in with me and have cuddles before the day begins. I miss her warm little body at night, but we are all benefitting from more sleep, and having some early morning snuggle time is enough to make up for it.
In September, Bear will start in reception at the local school and while I know she’s more than ready for school, there is a part of me that can’t quite imagine her in a pinafore dress and school shoes while she’s still so little. One thing I know for sure is that she will take it all in her stride and have a great time. She is blossoming from a cautious, clingy baby into a child ready to explore the wider world and all that it has in store for her. And she will do it with smiles, laughter and cheeky faces!