May 4, 2014

Clara at Three

{Warning: Mommy-bragging ahead.  She's my kid and I love her, so just humor me.}

When Clara was first born, it was hard to imagine how I would love her more with each day, week, month and year that passed.  Parenthood is pretty remarkable that way.  As much as I delighted in her as a baby, I find that the older she gets the more I love her as the person she is becoming.  I suppose that’s always how it goes and that no matter how wildly I love her now, it will only continue to grow as she grows.


With that said, three years old has long been my favorite age for humans.  I know they are emotional and unpredictable and sometimes very challenging, but I love them.  I love the way they see the world and the vocabulary they have to express it.  I love how full of life and joy they are and how their honest expressions of their truths refresh me.  I love how thirsty they are for knowledge (even when it means they ask “why” literally thousands of times a day).  I love how they still say “lello” for yellow.  I love how they abandon reality to enter into a world of make-believe and seamlessly transition back into this hard, sometimes cold world with innocence and bravery.  I love that they are still babies who will hug and snuggle and cuddle, but that they are also real people with ideas and opinions and growing personalities who are fighting for independence and autonomy.  I love this about three.  But I could never have anticipated how passionately I would love seeing it all in my own child.

Clara at three is an absolute joy.  She savors life in a way that makes me wish I could bottle her awe and wonder for all things around her.  She loves people and it’s becoming more and more apparent that she is likely an extrovert.  She moves to the beat of her own drum and is not one to simply follow what the rest of a group might be doing.  In fact, we’ve been hearing a lot lately, “My teachers say I wander off at school.”  (Sorry, teachers.  She hears you, but the implementation is not quite there yet.)  She is brave and courageous, if not a bit prone for drama and hysterics when that bravery backfires.   She has an unbelievable vocabulary and we are surprised daily with some new word or phrase she has picked up, internalized and used correctly.  She also has a remarkable memory, which I hope she can hold on to.  I remember so little (hence the need for journaling, blogging, obsessive photographing), that I’m amazed at the details she will recall many many months later.  She has a great sense of humor like her daddy and the only thing better than when she makes us laugh is hearing her little laugh at something that has tickled her.  She is loving and kind.  She is full of energy and never stops moving, talking or singing. 

Clara at three loves:
  • Being outside.  I really believe that she has a connection to her Creator that makes her a different, more peaceful, more joyful child when she is outside in His world.  She notices the breeze blowing and the birds singing and tiny wildflower weeds that we grownups just pass by.  She doesn’t have to be running hard or playing anything, she is just happiest when she is outside.  Spring has been so good.  She still loves to swing, especially her tire swing in the woods.  She likes to find “hiking sticks” for herself and other, much smaller sticks to offer Rufus, her constant sidekick.  She’s learning to peddle her tricycle and ride her scooter and she loves playing with bubbles and chalk and water.  She loves to go to the park and visit the horses and talk with people who are walking their dogs and have picnics and just take it all in.  She loves outside.
  • Music.  Listening to it or making it.  Right now we’re on a pretty big  Frozen soundtrack kick, but she loves her other CDs of nursery rhymes and Wee Sing Bible Songs and other “kids’ music.”  She loves to listen to us sing hymns and I’m again amazed and how many lyrics of how many hymns she knows (better than I do!  I have to use an app!)  She falls asleep to a CD of instrumental hymns.  She loves playing her harmonica, or creating musical instruments out of anything that will tap or shake.  She loves dancing to music. 
  • Reading.  All those experts aren’t kidding when they say that reading to your kids really matters.  Of course I’ve always believed that as an educator, but I cannot express to you how amazing it is to watch language develop right before my eyes with Clara.  She loves print: books, magazines, pamphlets (a word she surprised me with recently), whatever she can get her hands on.  She loves going to the library and choosing new books, but also loves reading the same ones over and over again for weeks at a time.  She memorizes them quickly too and can already engage in a lot of the “pre-reading behaviors” that I look for in kindergarten students.  She talks about authors and illustrators and will point out the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  She loves poems.  She makes connections between books or between books and real life that I marvel at.  The reading comprehension skills that I work with teachers on developing in school age children, I can already see beginning in her: inferring, predicting, making connections, questioning, determining importance and more.    It has been a real treasure for me to watch her language and literacy skills unfold right before my eyes… just by reading with her.  I’m so thankful that she loves reading and I hope she always will. 
  • Playing pretend.  Whether it’s doctor, or grocery store, or vet, or zookeeper, or babies, or dentist or (lately) “Anna and Elsa,” Clara is fully in the pretend play stage.  I love seeing her imagination take over as she creates alternate worlds and acts out roles as she imagines them.  She also loves making up stories and will often say, “Let’s tell a story together!” as she enters a world of spoken make believe (Sweet Mama is largely to thank for that.)  She is expressive and enthusiastic and creative and I love it.  She is really into making up new words, and telling you what they mean.  (For instance, the birthday gift she wants to buy for everyone is a "poofer."  If you ask her what a poofer is she says, increduously, "It's what you use to DECK THE HALLS!"  Of course.)  The theatre person I used to be loves to watch her pretend play and knows that it will serve her well for lots of things in life ahead. 
  • Animals.  Stuffed animals, real animals, books about animals, YouTube videos of animals… I guess it’s pretty common for young children to be obsessed with animals, but Clara is no exception.  The other night in the bathtub she asked me, “What do you know about armadillos?”  Not much, Clara.  Sorry, kid.   She is fascinated by creatures that live far away and loves to pet every dog she comes across on a walk.  She is not scared of many creatures and loves to visit zoos and aquariums and parks where she can see any kind of living critter.  She’s especially enamored with birds of all kinds, skunks, dogs and cats, and anything she has an opportunity to touch and interact with.  She’ll tell you what grown up and baby animals are called (“a BOY sheep is a RAM and a girl sheep is a EWE and a baby sheep is a LAMB”) and what sounds they all make. 
  • Arts and Crafts.  She loves painting and mixing colors of paint.  She loves stickers and cutting and gluing.  She loves to make cards and “draw” pictures, although she’s truly not much past the scribble stage.  She loves working on her art easel in the kitchen and doing playdough. 
  • Her family.  Clara is truly a people person and loves lots of people… friends, fellow church members, strangers at the grocery store who might just want to hear a story about “one time…”.  But family is something special and the way her face lights up extra for me and Robert (and Rufus) and the way she talks already with great love and fondness for her little sister is so dear.  She’s lucky to have grandparents that she sees frequently and who adore her (and whom she adores).  Watching how she has transformed us beyond just a couple and into a true family unit makes my heart swell, and I know that her little sister will complete that feeling for us. 

I guess I can’t do one of this big “milestone” updates without at least a brief mention of her medical state.
  We simply can’t believe it, but she’s essentially been cleared from everything.  We saw her surgeon for a three year follow up and he said she no longer needed yearly, routine x-rays.  I took a two page typed list of stuff to talk with her (infinitely patient) pediatrician with for that checkup, but left being told to wean her off of the medication (prevacid) she’s been on nearly her entire life and that she’s 20th percentile for weight so we can switch from whole milk to 2% and quit treating her like an underweight child.   Her first cold and flu season without synagis shots and being in school was a little rough; she did get RSV and more than her share of colds and coughs, but she weathered it and came out the other side just fine.  She’s physically and developmentally totally typical.  While there’s always a possibility that she could face some sort of future complication, no one is expecting that at this time and we are able to really let go of a lot of the fears and worries we’ve carried for the past three years.  Or at least try to….

      I’m sure there’s more I could say about her, and because I know my memory will fail me some day and I often want to just freeze time, I feel the need to try to capture what life is like with her right now.  But these words and images will have to do for now.  I can’t wait to see who else Clara will become in the year ahead.  Three really is grand.  

1 comment:

  1. I just can't believe how much she has grown up. She's a doll ! So happy to hear about her and love her new room, too. Good luck with the new baby and look forward to seeing her too. I hope you make this into a book for Clara, it is so special.


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