Maeve: Four years
Four years ago, you burst into our lives and secured your place as the baby of the family. But now that you’re four, you’re really not a baby anymore. Your legs are long and skinny and your face is losing its roundness, but that toddler tummy is thankfully still pretty round. I look at you and see dimples and curls and smiles and hands on your hips and stamping feet and long arms and wonder where the baby went.
You want nothing more than to be big just like your brother and sister. You follow them around and do everything they do, and if you don’t know how, you figure it out pretty quickly. This summer you started jumping off the boat in the middle of the lake with your yellow floaty strapped around your torso. You didn’t even think twice about it, you just followed Jack and Emmie when they ran the length of the boat deck and jumped right off with no one to catch you. You resurfaced with a shocked look on your face, which was immediately replaced with a laugh and the words, “I wanna do that again!” You have no fear, which is a great quality in a woman, but a little dicey in a four-year-old girl who still needs to have some boundaries.
This was the year you started full-time school, that you went to summer camp, that you learned to peddle a tricycle, that you started eating spinach salads and that you discovered jeans. Oh my lord with the jeans. Unfortunately for you (and for Mommy), Emmie wanted to wear nothing but dresses and skirts at this age, which means all the clothes in your drawers are dresses and skirts. The school-clothes battles in this house had reached the breaking point, so you received several pairs of jeans for your birthday, making you the happiest kid on earth. Seriously, most kids would be disappointed to open clothes, but you were grinning ear to ear. Paired with your still beloved Hello Kitty shirts, you will make quite the fashion statement.
This was also the year you started sleeping in a big-girl bed. And because Mommy and Daddy are no fools, we set you up for success from day one with a doorknob cover on the inside of your door. And I can honestly say, you rarely even tested the knob. We put you to bed, either for naps or for the night, and you lie down, ask us to “close the door a little bit” and go to sleep. We open the door once you’re in dreamland and in the morning, you wander into our room, you green-and-white fuzzy blanket trailing behind you, to ask for a glass of milk and a Yo Gabba Gabba video. You do love your sleep, even though your wake-up time averages around 5:30 a.m., which could use some improvement in year four.
You transitioned to all-day school with no problems at all. You walked in the first day, put your stuff in your locker, kissed us goodbye and never looked back. You love your friends and your work and we’ve heard you have no problem using your words to express your feelings to your classmates. You come out of the door waving and smiling each afternoon and can’t wait to kiss me and show me what’s in your backpack. You also make your feelings about my choice of snack very clear. Usually with whining and crying. But your teachers say you are a joy to have around, helpful and engaging and smart, so I guess a little crying after school is not the end of the world.
One day a few weeks ago you asked, “Mommy, will you learn me to read?” and after I died of an attack of the cuteness, I bought you a set of beginning reader books and you’ve been sounding your way through them ever since. You also love to just sit and look at books or have us read to you, which makes me so happy. I love that we have such little bookworms in our family, it makes the writer in me proud.
Your food preferences are milk, cheese, tacos, pizza, oatmeal (but only if we make two packages at a time, which you then waste half of), cantaloupe, granola bars, popcorn, apples, Daddy’s awesome chicken wings, pumpkin bread and raw spinach. But do not, I repeat DO NOT, put salad dressing on it. The last time we tried to sneak some sweet Italian dressing on a tiny part of the smallest leaf, you detected it immediately and go so upset during your subsequent tantrum that you fell backward off the bench at the table. Sorry. Never again. Also on the do-not-eat list are any vegetables outside of raw spinach or raw carrots, spicy foods, most meats and most bread. You are, by FAR, our pickiest eater.
But you are such an adventurer when it comes to other things. You went on the Whizzer roller coaster at Six Flags this summer, something I didn’t even do until I was a teen-ager and something your five-year-old sister had to be carried onto kicking and screaming. You loved it, of course. You went on Splash Mountain at Disney (again, loved it) and sobbed when you were a half-inch too short for Thunder Mountain. Next year, we promise!
More often than not, you can be found playing nicely with either Jack or Emmie, or sometimes, both. The three of you get along well now and are constantly putting on shows, chasing each other around the first-floor, playing board games or elaborate pretend family play. But by far your favorite activity to do together is to push each other around in a laundry basket. Seriously, hours of entertainment of switching places, going back and forth upstairs from one bedroom to another. The screams of laughter are usually more common than the screams of fighting, which is great. Don’t get me wrong, you certainly have your fair share of fights, with you usually resorting to pulling Emmie’s hair or demolishing some creation of Jack’s. When you get mad at us in the car, Daddy and I cringe as we wait for what we lovingly call the “Maeve special,” which is when you take off both your shoes and whip them at our heads in the front seat. Ahhh, road trip memories.
But for the most part, you’re cuddly and sweet and loving and funny. You think knock-knock jokes are hilarious and you like nothing more than to watch a video snuggled up under your Hello Kitty blanket. You take your chores of making your bed, getting out the placemats and clearing the dishes very seriously and you get so excited when you earn all your chips at the end of the day. You’re polite and kind to your friends and just shy enough around strangers that I don’t worry about kidnapping attempts. You love to swing at the park and play in the sandbox and play soccer and baseball in the alley with the other kids. One of your favorite things is to help me in the kitchen, pulling up a stool and helping measure the ingredients and watching everything I do at the stove. You hug and kiss with gusto and end each night telling us what your favorite thing was and what your wish is.
And as I tell you all the time, my favorite part was seeing you and my wish is that you have a good day tomorrow. My wish for you today, however, is that you have a good year. You have so much to look forward to this year and I can’t wait to see the person you become. I love you, Maevie!