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Dear Quinny, You’re three.

October 27, 2014

Dear Quinny,

photoI’ve had the best time celebrating your third birthday. Your unbridled enthusiasm is infectious, and you stayed true to your character by being…totally random. You requested a birthday theme of “Christmas, rainbows, and pumpkins.” So we put up the tree, much to my dismay. I cringe at the thought of Christmas decorations going up before Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving is my favorite. And seriously people, ONE THING AT A TIME. When you’re 18 and I lament about all the sacrifices I’ve made for you, just know that putting the tree up in October is on the top of that list.  Auntie RaeRae made you the most amazing rainbow cake in the history of rainbow cakes. And, you meticulously put monochromatic stickers on baby pumpkins while your brother put stickers on my arm. I’d say this was a birthday in typical Quinny style: completely random, yet totally predictable, and always fun and laid-back.

As I’m still getting to know you, I’m finding it difficult to describe you. There are obvious things about you: the way you scrunch your nose when you laugh, your intuition, the way you tell me you “love me one hundred,” the way you observe before you dive in, your sense of humor…these are all given. The rest is still a bit of a mystery to me. The best I can do is say that you’re one walking dichotomy. Let me count the ways:

  1. Clingy AND independent: For the last few months, it’s difficult for me to walk anywhere in the house without you stuck to me. When you eat, you prefer to do so on my lap. You won’t let dad put you to bed if I’m home. We hold hands as much as possible. When I take you to do your business in the bathroom, you insist on putting our foreheads together while you grunt it out (and because you don’t like fruits or veggies, there’s typically a lot of grunting). However, you will often run off onto the playground with wild abandon. When you’re playing with a puzzle or drawing, you like me near you but don’t want any help from me. Dropping you off at school is a breeze, with barely an acknowledgement that I’m leaving you for the day. You are very much your own person. You never attached to a lovey when you were younger. I’m starting to realize that I might just be your lovey. Way to pull one over on us, Q.
  2. Salty AND sweet: gurllll, you love your sweets. You are a terrible eater except when it comes to snacks and sweets. When I ask you what your favorite food is, you say, “Snacks. And chocolate cake.” I would fight you to take five bites of your dinner, then I would watch you slam a whole bowl of fro-yo and lick it clean. However, you love your salt. I’ve caught you dipping your finger in the salt container more than once. One of your favorite snacks is ‘si mui,’ Vietnamese salted plum. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and you savor it one tiny bite at a time. Your taste buds are as random as you are. Strawberries and apples? Blech! Liver pate? Delicious.
  3. A mimic AND independent thinker: Your vocabulary has blown up this year. I hypothesize that it’s because you have been repeating what everyone says. Kien says, “I want to play hide and seek after my bath and then watch Octonauts.” And you say, “I want hide and seek my bath and watch Oc-nots.” I say, “Kien, stop doing that right now.” And you say, “Kee! An! Stop doing that. Right now! Go to timeout!” Meghan Trainer says, “It’s all about that base, about that base, no treble.” And you say, “It’s about this face, this face, no trouble.” So, you’re a very astute observer and then you practice what you hear. You’re just practicing though, because you have a mind of your own, and once you decide on something you’re very stubborn about it. I can see you churning the words around in your head to try out how they are supposed to get strung together, practicing a few times, and then, when it really matters, you say what you think and there’s no changing your mind.
  4. photoTomboy and Girly Girl: I think you might be an athlete one day, or a dancer. Or a mime. You embody all of them right now. Your favorite thing is to wear a dress so you can twirl, but you always pair it with your sneakers so you can run fast. You love to walk along curbs or anything that requires balance, and then you jump off everything, and nothing at all. You just like to jump. You have amazing running form: you bend both elbows, curl your fingers into a fist, pump both arms dramatically, and finish with a twirl. In the most random moments (in a shopping cart, at the pool, in the dentist waiting room), you’ll bust out some yoga moves. Mind you, you don’t know what yoga is, but there you are, doing downward dog and warrior two, Namaste-ing all over the place. You often act out what you’re feeling, complete with dramatic facial expressions…without saying a word. They usually don’t make sense, but perhaps you’ve got emotions and ideas that you don’t have words for just yet so miming is an outlet for you. And you have about a million different smiles that we’re still trying to interpret. You’re tough and delicate all at once, like being brave and vulnerable.
  5. Rule follower and rule breaker: this dichotomy is something I really hope you hold on to as you grow up. In the work I do, I’m constantly thinking about how people can work within a system while also finding ways to move it forward, whether they are authorized to do so or not. I think people gravitate to you because you’re reasonable and laid-back. You’re happy to go with the flow, agree with the boundaries that are set for you, and you understand consequences. It’s been the easy part of parenting you. Then there’s the side of you that knows how to pick your battles. When you are not willing to go with the plan, it takes two full-grown adults to get you in your car seat (that thing you do, I call it the “rigor mortis,” it is spectacular and puzzling.) That’s the activist in you. Then there’s the social disobedient in you, where you look me straight in the eye and slowly, intentionally, do exactly what you’re not supposed to do. Even as I tell you to stay in your seat, you have a hint of a smile, a glint in your eye, and you very carefully, ever so slowly, get out of your chair, as if I won’t be able to see you if you do it slow enough. It’s infuriating because sometimes I choose to look the other way (you win!) and other times I have to act mad even though I’d rather laugh at (with?) you.

We’ve always thought your brother was the complicated one, but I think you’re pulling one over on us. You’re straightforward, but under that laid-back, funny, and affable demeanor, you’re complex and strong.

Moreover, you have big dreams and big vision. On a weekly, sometimes daily, basis, you will ask me, “Mama, one day, I’m going to ____, ok?”  It’s half statement, half question, and it spans from riding a helicopter, to ice-skating, to eating an ice cream cone, to petting a penguin on a boat. You have big plans and you’ve got it all worked out in your head.

You showed me that much when we went shopping for your birthday present. I picked you up from school early on your birthday to take you to our neighborhood toy store – a big, mom-n-pop store with shelves and shelves of toys for imaginative play. You were so excited, hopping and twirling more than usual. We went down every aisle. You examined everything and took delight in most. This is exactly why I took you to a toy store rather than pick something out myself. I would have no clue what to get you because you are so random. (The last time I did this, I was sure you were going to pick out the puppet, or the toy bugs, or the stuffed flower. You went with an umbrella. An umbrella!) When you still hadn’t picked anything out, we went all the way to the back corner where they had random things – science kits, and odds and ends. You saw a box with a rainbow on it and pointed it out to me. I showed you the box and explained it was “just” a night light that projected a rainbow onto the wall. You looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want that.” {hop, hop, hop, twirl} I spent the next 15 minutes explaining to you that the night light was not a toy and you cannot play with it. We did another lap of the store to look at other toys to make sure this is what you wanted. And you held firm. So, a $30 freakin’ night light it was, much to my dismay. That night, crawling into your big-girl bed, wearing your little girl pj’s, we did our usual nighttime routine. Then, when I turned the reading light off and turned the night light on, the most brilliant rainbow illuminated across the walls of your room. It was quite unexpectedly beautiful to me, but I think you knew exactly what it was going to look like. You had vision. As I sat in awe at the sight, you put both hands behind your head and laid down beneath your rainbow with one of those smiles of yours. You had a vision that you would fall asleep every night under a rainbow. You didn’t want a toy to play with, you wanted magic. You wanted a dream, an experience, a feeling. You knew exactly what you wanted, and it was random and beautiful. Just like you.

I can’t wait to get to know more of you, Quinny. That, and hair.

Happy third birthday.




Quinn Age 2 edit



From → La Q

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