Three

Darwin turned three a week (and three days) ago. Everything I read says that three is the real end of toddler hood and the beginning of early childhood, and it’s very apparent why. It’s not so much a threshold, of course, more a gradual transition that has been happening over the past 2-3 months, but it’s one more incredible thing to watch in this progression from infant to adult. Her birthday party was entirely her choice: hot dogs, chips, corn on the cob at Grandma and Opa’s house, with just our family, and a walk down to the playground after dinner. I suspect next year we’ll have a bigger party with friends, as she is starting to see some of her little pals birthday parties now. But for this year, it was just right for her.

So what does three look like for this kid?

Three is the true start of “why?”. Over and over, about everything. It is the budding of a young scientist asking about the world around her. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I find myself exhausted by the “why” chorus! When she’s truly interested in “why” something is, I am happy to engage, but sometimes I have to close myself in the bedroom and let her ask the dog questions for a few minutes while I drink my coffee!

More than just “why”, though, Darwin talks and sings about everything and anything right now, has a huge vocabulary, and uses it (mostly) correctly. Yesterday afternoon when I picked her up from preschool I noted (as an observation) that her shoes were on the opposite feet. She proceeded to request that I “please put them on the proper feet Mama.” I love the experience of parenting a child who can ask clearly for what they want! I less-love the experience of parenting a child who melts down when I know what they want and what they want is not an option…but I’ll still take it over a year ago where the melt downs were longer because I couldn’t even understand what it was that she was asking for. Progress!

This week or next, I have to check the calendar, Darwin starts swim for three year old kids. Meaning we aren’t in the pool with her. It blows my mind that she’s there already. Whether or not she will actually get in the water without us is the real question! We’ll be watching in anticipation. Gymnastics are still a “with-parent” sport at this age (go figure), but we’re going for it again this year along with the swimming. Darwin loves it too much to say no for now. Next year we’ll have two kids in gymnastics and swim, and we may have to reassess our time commitments. At least next year Leah will be done with her coursework!

Three is also the start of actually helping out around the house. Darwin now can feed the dog, and puts the cat food down at meal time after I serve it. She puts away her toys and books (mostly), puts her dirty clothes in the hamper, and picks up the animal dishes off the floor. I think winter gifts this year will include Darwin-sized house cleaning equipment because she keeps hitting herself with the broom, and cooking equipment, because she loves to help in the kitchen. She also has requested to help fold clothes, so currently she folds the rags (since they are square) and does a wonderful job of it. We tried that out about six months ago, and she would just end up balling them up into wads of rag rather than folding them. I now know that it was because she wasn’t quite ready and that work was a little too hard, so resulted in frustration. It’s amazing what waiting just a little while can produce!

Other fun things about three include doing ALL the puzzles (currently the 24 piece wooden puzzles are an easy distraction during quiet time and the 48 piece floor puzzles are a challenge), painting (with brushes now as well as fingers), sneaking up on mamas, lots and lots of snuggles, “racing” to get things done (like getting dressed in the morning), and gently petting the dog and cats. Outside is a lot of fun, and she’s helping with yard work, raking up leaves and planting flowers.

Vital stats for the record:

  • Weight 29 lbs
  • Height 38 inches

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Falling

Anyone else feel like the world is kind of falling apart right now? Record hurricanes, wildfires, nuclear weaponry. I’m a wildfire scientist. I’m trying to channel my calm, educated brain to engage and remember that fire is a part of our landscape. And then I feel a little bit like crying because driving through the Columbia River Gorge was such a special part of my childhood. And then I feel like celebrating for all the woodpeckers and insects that are going to thrive in the post-fire environments that are being produced around the northwestern United States right now. It’s a very complicated feeling to watch a place you love burn when you’re a fire scientist.

I wonder if this is true for hydrologists who study the environmental impact of flooding, or if there is enough benefit from sediment enrichment to offset anything at all. We have friends in Puerto Rico right now and are waiting to hear how they came through Irma. There are places in the Caribbean that have been flattened. Not cities, but entire countries. What do you do when there isn’t another place to go?

I’m doubtful that anyone is pleased with the situation with North Korea though. Nuclear annihilation is an even more semi-permanent negative condition than a warmed climate.

In light of all the enormous changes that we are bringing about through simply going about our daily lives now, I feel like a lot of my time is spent thinking about how to create adaptability in my children. The single most useful trait in a changing world being being able to adapt to a broad range of conditions – something that we humans have already mastered, and will need to draw on deeply in the coming decades if we want to survive. We let our kids struggle with difficult things. I already see successes with Darwin. She’ll get frustrated, but if she really wants to do something, she’ll keep working. Sometimes she’ll ask for help, but often she wants to do things herself once she’s been shown how we do them. Linnea came out trying to do everything for herself, and so I see that personality is a big part of this trait as well. But having children has decidedly made me more aware and more concerned about the future, and today, about the present.

For those of you who are also struggling (and my friends, according to those in my life whose work is ministry, it’s all of us), I found this helpful.

Stay safe everyone.