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Dear Kien, You’re 3

July 31, 2012

My dear Kien,

Today you and I both made it to three. Today I learned a lot about being your mom. Today, more than any other day this past year, you reminded me that you are your own person.
You went to bed last night in tears, exhausted from hours of frustration and anger. You started the day in tears, not understanding why you couldn’t get your way, not understanding why I wanted this day to be happy and special for you. You ended the day a sweet angel, a child at play, a baby wanting to be cuddled, sung to, and tucked tight in bed.

This year, I marveled at your growth. Before I knew what was happening, you were stringing words together to create sentences. And then, just like that, we were having conversations. You moved quickly from the “Why” phase to the “What” phase. But you don’t ask “What?” just once. You ask them in three’s.

“…and when you honk the car horn it tells the cars around you to check to see if they are driving the right way.”
“What? What? What?”

Dad thought it might be because you have a hearing problem. I think it’s because you don’t want to miss any part of our conversations. But there’s a good possibility that your ears are also filled with lots of wax – or dragon eggs, as we like to call it.

Speaking of dragons, you commit to your passions. At the start of the year it was construction vehicles and dragons. Your obsession with dragons blossomed after Chinese New Year when you got to see them perform in person. As the year progressed, so did your imagination with dragons. There is Boris the Dragon, who takes you on adventures across the world. And buffalo dragons that are big and tough. Mama dragons that live in caves with their eggs. Dragons that fly and dragons that swim. You embodied them all and I never got tired of watching.

You have become quite the negotiator, often convincing us to read you “one more book”, “just two more minutes of playing”, tell you one more story. It makes me a little nervous about what you’ll be able to talk me into in the future.

I adore your shyness. I think it’s natural for parents to nudge their kids in front of others and expect them to be open and gregarious. I make that mistake often. When I do that with you, you tuck away and peek from behind my leg. I can always count on you to slowly open up, but it has to be on your own terms. Though we’ve taught you plenty of party tricks that keep us laughing (“Hey, let’s sing ‘The Roof is on Fire’ song to the firefighters!”), you won’t be the entertainment around strangers. I respect that.

This year you became a big brother. With your intensity, I was a bit apprehensive about how you would handle another little one in our lives. You constantly melt my heart with how sweet you are with Quinn. You are gentle and kind to her. She adores you. You treat her as her own person, never forcing her to do what you do, rarely frustrated when she cries and demands our attention.

Today, you made me reflect on a few things. I have hopes and dreams for you. I know I will project my expectations on you. I know I will want you to feel the intense joy that I get from being your mom, the joys that I get from things that are most important to me. But I realize that you need to get there on your own terms. And perhaps there will be times when you don’t want to get there at all. Like the time I held you to watch a spectacular sunset and you wriggled out of my grasp to explore the bird poop on the ground.

You are your own person. You have your own opinions. You do not need me to feel for you. This year, you’ve shown me that there are times you don’t need me at all. You are growing up. Today, after dropping Quinny off at her class, I walked down the hall and caught sight of you barreling out of your own classroom, having just gone potty all by yourself. You were running down the hall, away from me, towards the doors to the playground. I watched you run down the hall, your shorts pulled crooked and way too high, your shoes slightly too big, your hair a mess because we never tame it for you in the mornings, and your goofy, slightly uncoordinated run zigzagging across the hall. You stopped after opening the door to the playground, hesitated to watch all the kids playing with reckless abandon. And then, slowly, you joined them, picking up a toy dinosaur on the way, and disappeared in the crowd. I’m learning. You’re three, and you are your own person.

Happy Birthday, Kien.

All my love,
Mom

 

 

 

 

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