I can't believe how much you've changed and grown this year! I hope you know what a pleasure it is for Daddy and me to watch you discover and master your world. You attack life with such joy and curiosity that it keeps us joyful and curious. There's so much I want to remember (and to remind you of) from this last year. I'm sure there are things I'll leave out because you're moving so fast, it's taking all my effort just to keep up with you let alone take notes, but I've got the rest of my life to watch you and to remember, so be prepared to go nuts from all the stories I'll tell your dates some day. What can I say? I'm your mom: it's what I do.
For one thing, you've grown. You're much taller now, because you finally got your legs. I'm not saying you were born without legs--you had 'em; believe me, I checked--they were just really stumpy there for a while. You had all this head and torso with these sawed off, little legs. We weren't sure how you kept your balance. Now, they're deliciously proportional to the rest of you. I'm never more conscious of how big you are than when you crawl into my lap for a cuddle. You used to fit neatly into the space between my chin and waist. Now, you overflowing my lap with skinny arms, legs, elbows and knees. Such a big kid...
You're so affectionate. I'll look up from a task sometimes to find you standing there quietly, waiting with your arms thrown wide. When we make eye contact you say, "hug, Mommy," then run into my arms when I reach for you (I always do and I always will). Then we both sigh with happiness. You like to repeat that 5 or 6 times before moving on to something else. I call it a hug attack. You're indescriminate with your kisses. Doesn't matter what time of day, what we're in the middle of, whether I'm awake for it or what foreign substance you may have on your face, you're always ready with a kiss. For me, anyway, not so much for Daddy. I think his beard might be too scratchy for you. Either that, or you already think you're too manly to kiss him. I've mentioned before that he's got some feelings about that, too, but as for me? I love it. Makes me feel special. :) Regardless of the stubble problem, in the circle of Daddy's arms is one of you're favorite places to be. And believe me, he's oh, so happy to have you there.
You're very kind and care about other people. You've always been sensitive to others' feelings, and now you're learning the words to describe them. It's not unusual to find you hovering near a crying baby, offering a toy to calm them or to feel your small arms wrapped around my legs if I raise my voice in a way that makes you concerned, or patting my back if you think I'm sad. You've learned to say I'm sorry if you make a mess, if you hit someone by accident (we're working on saying sorry when you hit on purpose), or if you knock something over. Please and thank you are coming along nicely, too.
You're strong and stubborn. Your name means gentle warrior and it fits you to a T. People think you're passive because mostly you're content to go with the flow and don't make a lot of waves or noise but Daddy and I know different. You're the scrappiest person we know and you always have been. You quietly manipulate and maneuver your environment to suit your purpose. It's a skill you honed early. A diplomat or a third world dictator could learn a lot from you. We were just reminiscing recently about the day you were born. There were so many reasons to worry that you might not thrive: you were 7 weeks early, you weren't growing well inside me because I was so sick, boys develop a bit more slowly than girls do in their mama's tummies...the list was long, and a bit scary. But we shouldn't have worried. You came into the world, against all odds, a 3-lb tornado, screaming and peeing for all you were worth, and put all our fears to rest. We knew then that you were a fighter and that nothing was going to hold you back. So far, nothing has. Anybody who has come against the business end of your will knows exactly what I'm talking about.
You are eager to learn and take in new information like a sponge. I can't believe what you know already. You know lots of animals by sight and sound, shapes, the colors, all the numbers, the alphabet and can recognize all of the letters in words that you see. You have an incredible memory, especially for where we put the cookies, the iPad or anything else we don't want you to have. You know tons of words. I kept a list for a while, then stopped when I realized you weren't going to stop learning them. You can count to 20 by yourself and loved it when I showed you how counting to 100 was really just counting to 10, over and over again. You have all of your books memorized and love to "read along" when we have reading time. Your current favorites are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Thomas' Busy Day (or any other Thomas and Friends book), and The Giving Tree.
You love nature. When we're outside, you stop to smell every flower, hug every tree, swing every stick, throw every rock and step in every puddle. Walks are long, drawn out affairs with you. You point out the moon during the day, clouds in the sky, the sun and flowers wherever they may be. There's a huge rock in a yard on our walk route that you stop to hug and kiss every time we pass it. I have no idea why, but I love this quirk of yours.
You're a man's man and a lady's man. Daddy is your best friend and you love to be wherever he is. You love to wrestle, to run and jump, to be thrown high in the air, to destroy things and to jump on my furniture. I don't love that so much. If there are big kids around, you love to chase them and to do what they're doing. If there is a room full of girls and the only boy is a baby, you gravitate toward the baby. In fact, your favorite playmates at daycare are two boys, both younger than you, because they're the only other males present. That will change one day, my son. I know this because you're also the most incorrigible charmer (other than your father) that I know. Grandma W calls you a lady killer and she's so right. You've got an eye for a pretty lady and make sure to show your appreciation in the form of smiles, "jokes," dancing, showing off and the offering of toys. And these chicks fall for it, every time! Lord, help us all.
You love robots, books, sidewalk chalk, parks, percussion instruments of all kinds, animals, chocolate, bugs, spaghetti, cartoons with lots of music in them (The Little Engine That Could, Transformers Rescue Bots, Charlotte's Web), trains, trains and TRAINS. You're talking up a storm, from the time you wake up til you close your eyes for sleep. I think we're only getting about a third of what you mean right now, but when your words get clearer, look out! Daddy says you get that from me. I have no idea what he's talking about. ;)
You take joy in the the mundane. "Yay, you did it!" comes out of your mouth multiple times a day. Regardless of how small the accomplishment (eating an unfamiliar food, climbing a slide by yourself, helping with clean up, surviving a bath with suds) we know it's our cue to commence with the celebrating. Because of you, we no longer take a single success for granted. You've taught us to clap, to cheer, to jump and to dance as if no one has ever lived this day better than we have.
And frankly, no one has.
So in honor of your special day, we raise our chocolate milk cups and dance our happy dances to you, Buddy, because you did it! You turned 3! Here's to many, many, MANY more such celebrations. We love you!