I know that the title of a post just after someone's fourth birthday is supposed to contain the word four, but four is as-yet unknown territory. It's three we've loved this year, and three we say goodbye to when we put the fourth (pink) candle on the cake.
And oh, three is such a treasure and a heartbreak of a year. Everything grows at super speed-her vocabulary, her understanding, her legs. I called her "baby" without a scruple a year ago, and now it's clear that the word is an honorary title. The last of the baby fat rolls are gone, melted into miniature little-girl legs on which she strides confidently down the street, to feed the ducks, to play at the playground, swinging from her big sister's hand and singing.
What I'm going to say next I know you will dismiss as mother's bias. I can't argue, since I am her mother, but I'm also the mother of four others, and the sister, daughter, friend of many more. I've never met anyone like her. Most of us are some kind of mixture of pleasant and unpleasant, forgiving and harboring resentment, having good and bad days. We're normal people. She, I think, is not normal. Everything makes her happy, everything she's offered is just right, everything is an occasion for throwing back her head and letting out that deep, satisfied chuckle that's all hers. Just this week, as they piled into the car after gymnastics, one of her brothers said something gruff and rude to her. I waited half a beat, expecting her to flare up like people do. Instead, she laughed as if he'd been joking. He was completely baffled, and so was I. It goes on (and on) like this.
She's our ragamuffin, our tag-along, everyone's favorite toy. She becomes more herself all the time, astonishing us with her wise statements delivered in the steadily-improving baby English we all love. And will four be as pleasant as one, two, and three have been? I don't suppose I can really say, the future is always unknown.
But I can hear her now; she's just woken up upstairs. Already she's laughing.