My darling Courtland Whaley,
Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that age three is rough. Terrible Twos ain’t got nothing on the Terrible Threes. It’s just that “Terrible Threes” doesn’t have quite the same alliterative ring to it as the year prior, and so one goes along blissfully thinking that if they survive Year Two, they’re in the clear. But oh parenthood, how you do love a curve ball.
Daddy and I were prepared. We knew three was a challenge. Sunny had showed us as much. Our eyes were wide open.
And while yes, three has dealt us tantrums and defiance and attitude and sleep-strikes, that has all been pretty par for the course with you since the day you were born. We’ve been managing these challenges for the past 48 months. And boy, Three went out with a bang, as yesterday you refused to sleep most of the night and then resisted nap with a resolve reserved for trained military operatives. It’s actually quite impressive, outrageously frustrating, but impressive nonetheless. I wish I required as little sleep as you.
But I digress…
What we hadn’t predicted from these past 12 months was the wonderful, magical, heart-bending amazingness of what three would bring into our lives. As you got a stronger grasp of the English language, and learned how to better communicate with wild hand gestures and determination when language failed you (or your parents failed to understand your endearing, albeit absolutely convoluted pronunciation of words), the challenges became less extreme. We began to truly understand one another, and the entertaining, hilarious, story-teller inside you was really let loose.
The majority of your day is spent engrossed in song and corresponding performative gestures. This is what is most distinctive and memorable from this past year. You are our performer. While you enjoy singing songs you know (Nursery Rhymes, T. Swift, Darlingside), you positively delight in narrating the events and actions of your day through made-up, on-the-fly song writing. You sing about your food, about not wanting to go to bed, about the sky, about going potty, about your family, about the most mundane and yet the most universal of moments. It’s all part of your story-telling. You love to tell stories and do so with great enthusiasm and expression. We are all positively engrossed when you reenact a favorite moment at preschool or a traumatic tale from an encounter with a splinter. You dance as well to communicate your feelings. And so we started ballet this summer and you took to it like a duck to water. You are clearly meant for the stage. And we’ll always be your biggest fans.
Your life is a musical, my love, and I feel so fortunate to be both audience member and actor in its staging. (This moment between us earlier this week is just one of many examples of your brilliance).
You have taught me to approach life with bravery and clarity, sensitivity and joy. May you always do the same.
The happiest of 4th Birthdays to you.
(Photos from her final day as a 3-year old that capture the essence of this past year)