Kate. Oh Kate, how much I can say about her. She is fabulous and fun and frustrating all in the same breath. She is absolutely hilarious and yet so often during the day I just some space.
I erroneously thought that a child’s road to independence was more or less a straight line. It is not. It circles and leads straight back to Mama, every time. When she was a newborn and she was in my arms all day long I would get very “touched out” by the end of the day. Here I am 3 years later and it is different but the same. Kate wants my (our) attention ALL the time. And recently we are back to needing to be on top of me ALL the time. Constantly climbing on my back, my head, my lap, hanging off my leg. It drives me a little crazy. Maybe more than a little – I am not a rough and tumble kind of person – that is what Daddies are for! She has figured out how to work it, though. She’ll slide around in front of my face and settle herself on my lap and give me a kiss on the lips and say, “I love you Mama! I want a hug.” And who can argue with that? No one. Certainly not me. I drop everything and give her hugs and cuddles. (And honestly if it were hugs and kisses all day long I think I could handle that. It’s the knees and elbows and unintentional kicks to the chest that are pushing my buttons!)
She is developing some attitude and sass, but in her quiet, understated kind of way. I’ll say we need to so something, like put on her shoes. She acts 3 and says no and runs off. When I repeat myself she says to me, “But I said no.” Thankfully after that display of willpower she’ll then listen, it’s almost like she just has to test it out and see what happens, to see what things she can get away with and what she can’t. In a way it’s fascinating because she’s pushing the boundaries in exactly the same way that Ember does when she stares at me and steps closer to the doorway, but Kate does it with words and willpower. And Kate can be talked to, which is a huge benefit. Generally I call her over to me and quietly explain that I need her to do something and she needs to do it – unless I’m pressed for time at which point I regret to find myself raising my voice.
She loves school. She tells everybody she meets (including random strangers) who her teacher is and what she does at school. She runs straight in there and yells “Bye Mama!” and doesn’t even look up. They are learning about the days of the week, months of the year, how to write letters and numbers. They sing songs, read books, make art, play. They have swim class where they are learning to kick and float, music class where they learn new songs, and gym class where she learned that we have bones that make us strong. It really is so fun watching her bring home new art, sing songs that I don’t even recognize, and tell me things like that May is her month. She’s still not very good at telling me what they did, there’s a lot of “Ummmm, I dunno…” but I’ll keep prompting until I get something right and it sparks a memory. Her teacher mentioned to me one day that Kate is always singing, including songs that she (the teacher) doesn’t even know. (I assume she is singing songs that I sing to her, otherwise she’s some sort of child genius, ha.)
An unexpected [to me] side effect of school is that Kate goes slightly psycho afterward. She is well behaved and normal before school, during, and on the way home, maybe even through lunch and quiet time. But in the evening and the next day she acts like she just ate a store full of sugar and lost any ability to listen to directions. She’s just crazy, spazzing out and being loud and obnoxious. It does make sense, though, a kind of de-compressing from being in a structured environment for a few hours… but ugh it sucks.
Naps are also in a weird state of flux. She doesn’t nap after school – she seems to be too wired – but the following day she falls asleep mid-day. A few times I put her to bed in our bed and told her to just try to sleep and she fell asleep all right – for 2 hours. I welcomed that break in my day heartily until I realized that it meant she would not sleep at bedtime. Considering the girls are now sharing a room it’s extra bad to have Kate yelling and singing for an hour and a half in bed. So unfortunately the lesser of the two is letting her stay up all day, she tolerates that pretty well with very few signs of being tired, and then she and Ember fall asleep immediately at 8pm, which is glorious. She will still fall asleep in the car if I take any long-ish rides mid-day or later. (She tends to fall asleep as soon as I start moving, meanwhile her sister who I want to take a good nap is awake and babbling for half an hour before falling asleep directly before we arrive at our destination.)
Her love of art continues, she’s always asking for paint or glue and I pretty much give her free reign with the crayons (unless she lets them fall on the floor where Ember then eats them). She loves to color pictures and we go through a lot of paper. I love the ability to find coloring pages online and print out whichever one Kate wants! She also has some workbooks that I photocopy pages from (so she can do them over and over). She can draw all the letters with varying degrees of success and is now at the point of copying any words she sees.
She reads her books alone less than she used to (well, she does anything alone less than she used to) but is very into getting books from the library to read with me in the evening. Our libraries have a large network and the ability to search and request any book I want and pick it up at our local library has been great! I keep a running list of kids books that I’ve seen recommended and every couple weeks I return what we have and get another few ones out. Our ability to actually stand there and browse in the library is severely limited by Ember’s propensity for running away every time her feet touch the floor, so I’m relying on requests right now. Kate likes to go pick them up but she’ll take pretty much any new book! Rotating books like this has also helped with the boredom (hers and ours!) with what we have in the house. I’m trying to streamline a little bit; I still want to keep a sizable library of books, of course, but getting rid of (or hiding) the ones that annoy us or that she has no interest in. I’d leave them all available except for Ember’s love of pulling down every book off the shelf. Every day I have to pick up all the books and toys and put them back so I try to make that a little easier on myself! (I can’t wait until the girls are both old enough where I can organize a bit better without it all being destroyed in 10 seconds!) Our latest favorite is Where The Wild Things Are – a book that, I admit, I had never read that I can recall. As an adult it seems a lot shorter and simpler than I expected it to be (both Den and I were all “That’s it? I thought there’d be more.”) but Kate really likes it. It may be one I end up buying. (The movie, however, was just weird.)
She is big into jumping right now… on her bed, mine, the couch, oh and sometimes the actual trampoline. She’s just now trying out jumping off of things (which she’s never done before!), right now jumping off the arm of the couch onto the couch cushions. She finds this great fun and Ember tries to follow along after. She uses her bed as a trampoline, and while I remind her to use her trampoline and not the bed I also pretend not to notice and don’t make a huge issue of it… I remember being a kid and how fun that was. (Just don’t push your sister off or slam into walls or anything.)
Verbally she talks so well… and so very much. We’ve just hit the “Why?” stage, also the “What’s that?” I try to give her explanations but her responses illustrate that though she may know a word she doesn’t necessarily get the concept. I wouldn’t mind the “Why?” questions if the answers I give were actually listened to, but in reality she just keeps repeating “Why?” until I make up a silly answer or ask her what she thinks. She also loves games like her quizzing me on what something is. (“Is it a book?” “No!” “Is it a ball?” “No!” “Is it a cat?” “Yeah!!”) She likes to point out to me what something is not. (“Mama, that is NOT a roller coaster.” “You are right, the car is not a roller coaster.”)
She wants to help with everything – no, she demands to help with everything. She drags her little chair into the kitchen to stand at the counter to help me with whatever I’m doing, which is sometimes only moderately unhelpful and other times downright dangerous – I try to keep her away from the knives. But, using a plastic knife, she can and does spread peanut butter and jam on her own sandwich, she attempts to cut things but that never actually works. She loves to stir things and add things. I’ve found she’s more likely to eat dinner if she’s helped me make it, though it’s just as likely that she’ll help me make something and then say, “I don’t like it,” when we’re serving to eat. She’s gotten very picky about texture of foods and if anything is the least bit unfamiliar she’ll declare she doesn’t like it and refuse to touch it. I’m trying to do a “one bite” rule with her but it really doesn’t do much other than causing her to drool and gag in a dramatic fashion. She still will eat very very few fruits and vegetables, even the ones she used to eat (strawberries, watermelon). Once in a while she’ll ask for and eat a vegetable off of Den’s plate, and I found that she will eat mashed potato and corn (of course two that have little nutritional value). On the plus side she continues to eat most meats you can name: pork, steak, hamburger, chili (with beans!), chicken, turkey, salmon, trout. So I guess that’s the trade-off with the no fruit thing. She’d still prefer to live off of yogurt, crackers and cheese.
This weekend I took Kate out without Ember to visit an apple orchard and pumpkin patch with a friend. It was just so nice to be able to focus on just her! It also highlights how easy 3 is in so many ways: she holds my hands in parking lots (proclaiming “Cars are dangerous!”), doesn’t run off, helped pick apples off the trees (and refused to take a bite), picked out a pumpkin for daddy. Then we sat at a table at a deli and ate sandwiches. She’s a little chatter-box and listening to her and her friend have actual conversations, telling each other about random things, was so cute.