My sweet Quinn turns three today. I truly can’t comprehend where these past years have gone, because I could swear to you I was just admiring the appearance of her first tooth. But I see her now and know that toddler is long gone. The little girl standing before me is tall and lanky, like a bean sprout that just continues to stretch from seed to sun. She’s peaches-and-cream complexion, hazel-green eyes, a mop of crazy-curly burnt-orange hair that draws comments from strangers we pass in the grocery aisle, in the bank, on the sidewalk. She sucks her thumb when she’s tired. It took months for her to potty-train, but I’ll find her in the bathroom now, washing her hands, already finished without us realizing she’d gone upstairs in the first place. She refuses to nap, appearing at the top of the stairs, clutching her stuffed dolphin in bleary-eyed defiance, but other days will simply announce that she’s tired and march to her room, insisting that she will tuck herself into bed. She is an imp who knows that a smile and a kiss will get her out of heaps of trouble. She breaks into tears when disciplined because her feelings are truly, deeply, and quickly hurt. From the time she was an infant, when she would rest her fingers on mine while she nursed, to when she was sitting up on the floor beside me at six months with her hand on my knee, to this day, her birthday, she has been the most loving, affectionate child I’ve ever known. She must touch–not to know we’re here, but to remind us of her presence.
She is smart.
She is loud.
She is in complete adoration of her sister. She loves cars, and horses, and dolphins, and turning somersaults on the living room rug.
All she wants for her birthday is a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake. That’s it. Just a “ca’er-piwar cake.”
She refuses to dance in public, but will put on a shows, insisting on a captive audience, in front of the radio.
She’s not a joiner.
She is so verbal, stringing together clear and thoughtful sentences, using grown-up words like “actually” and “correction” before we even know to anticipate them.
She is messy. Underwear gets thrown on the floor, a yogurt lid lies face-down on the table, a fork gets hastily tossed into the trash can.
She looks exactly like my grandmother.
She reminds me of me.
She is the second-born, the one in the middle, the one who God gave the loud chipmunk voice and red hair so that she would most certainly not be lost in the crowd. She will be the rebellious one, the one I worry about at parties, the one with lots of friends and a steady patience for the constant cacophony of family. She is so full of life I sometimes think our house vibrates with her energy.
She is three. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
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