I have a lot of guilt about Wallis’ 3rd year of life. It was not a great year, and she had to go through so many changes all at once. She had to leave the only home she’s ever known, she had to move in with her grandparents, then move to another house, and then welcome a new baby sister. One of these things are typically pretty monumental in a child’s life, but all of them when you’re only three, is a pretty big deal.
Not a day goes by that Wallis doesn’t talk about our “old house” and how much she misses it. I have tried hard to make this new house special, and she likes it, but she really loved that old house and I think she also misses how we were there, the specific games she played that you can only play in an old house with a large porch, my garden, and just how things were…because they are different now, and for her they are very different.
I think children are incredibly insightful and I think for Wallis this was her first experience with growth, and how she wasn’t ready, so she’s still processing it, she’s still trying to understand how she can love something but have to leave it, how she can like something else but still miss what was. These are big thoughts and sometimes they are heavy thoughts. We have pictures that play on a loop in our kitchen, and she loves to pull her stool up and watch as images of her old life and new life come together. She’ll call to me, “mama remember that, remember that day!” Or “dada can we go back there?” And “look it’s little weinie” that’s what she calls Loris and I have no idea where it came from, ha!
I don’t like those images on loop, they make me desperately sad. I see our old house and it hurts to breath, sometimes I feel a panic attack rising up inside of me from all these changes that I have barely processed myself and I have to push it down, remind myself to take a deep breath….but for Wallis the images are soothing, helpful, and so I leave them there.
I don’t even know where to begin but Wallis has changed so much in the last year that 3 couldn’t possibly turn into a mere 4…that seems too small of a leap for what has transpired. I feel that desperation that parents feel to go back, to have more time with what was, but also the awe of what is now. She is so incredible that I lose myself in what she has become, and I often trace her steps in my mind to where she is now.
Four is still so young, but you can feel her turning becoming so much of what she will carry forward into life.
She is a painter, a comic, a philosopher, a care taker, and a scholar. She loves information and to share her information with us. She loves to watch nature shows (the scarier the better she says, which we don’t allow, but she still tries) and while I make dinner she’ll say things like, “mama, do you know that the huntsman spider is the largest spider and sometimes eats small animals?”
She loves to paint, and I thinks we paint nearly every single day. I created her a “gallery” so that she can see everything she’s created on a rotation…I expected it to be a bigger hit, but I think she feels a bit embarrassed by it….oh well, not the first time I am going to embarrass her, ha!
I have never encouraged her to paint though, it is something she truly loves to do. I don’t even paint with her, I will just sit there while she paints because I don’t like the idea of having any influence there, if she asks me to, sure…but she usually doesn’t. Sometimes I wonder if she will always paint, if this is something that I will know of her always.
Wallis continues to be obsessed with everything medical. This has been a thing for her since she was 2, and I keep expecting it to phase out, but it only becomes a bigger part of her life as each year comes. She loves to pretend that she is a doctor, and she spends hours building and rebuilding hospitals with her blocks. She knows the names of all the doctor tools, and when she had to get two stitches (it was horrible for her parents) she was so excited to be in a hopsital that she just kept saying, “I want to stay here all day, I want to work here!” She didn’t even flinch having her chin sewed either, and the doctor told her she was the best patient he’d ever had, “she beamed about that the whole way home.”
She can’t get enough “doctors things” as she calls them, and once started crying when something she was given didn’t come with an “otoscope” even though she already has like 5. She tells me daily, “but mama, I want a 100 doctors things!” Recently she’s allowed herself to also take care of animals, and will say, “sometimes I am a doctor who takes cares of animals and sometimes I am a doctor who takes care of humans.”
She is very funny and her timing is impeccable, which is a key factor in actually being funny, ha! Sometimes her jokes don’t land well though, because she’s trying so hard to make someone laugh that it can be confusing…like when she told her friend that her shirt looked like vomit. She was trying to be funny not mean, but her friend did not laugh, ha! It is a lesson we all have to learn, and I actually find it interesting to watch. I fight the urge to explain that she thinks she’s being funny and didn’t mean anything by it…because as an adult you forget that most of the things you think are tied to an experience, but Wallis saying something looks like vomit comes from nothing, it was merely the first word she could think of and a word that makes her laugh, so she thought it would make her friend laugh. Her friend wasn’t upset by it, she just simply didn’t get it, ha! And they both moved on. Had I intervened I would have made into something that it wasn’t, and so I am constantly learning to hold back and watch. Which is not easy for me, but I am always grateful I did.
Wallis does not like it when Andrew and I argue. I find this to be frustrating – as I grew up in a angry home and when my parents fought, it was loud, ongoing, scary, and even sometimes physical.
Andrew and I argue like whispering ghosts compared to that, and yet, she still has comments. She will tell her dad, “you need to help mama more” or say to me, “I don’t think that was a nice thing to say” – Andrew and I try not to argue in front of her but she’s always around, ha! And we explain later that we were frustrated, but we are fine now and we make sure to apologize in front of her too…but still, not loving the extra vigilant always listening side to kids. I am already managing my temper the best I can, and having the extra pressure of tiny ears makes me feel like a rusty tin man afraid to squeak. I know that it is okay for kids to see disagreements and especially to see them resolve, but it’s really hard having to be zen all the time, but I know it is important in the long run. Needless to say, I’ve started running again, I got to put my angst somewhere.
Wallis loves to cuddle and since the arrival of Loris has started finding her way to our bed at night. I always told myself I would not let that habit start, but I didn’t expect her to hit when we were deliriously exhausted from an insane newborn…she knew our weakness and she won. I have to say, well played Wallis, well played.
Wallis is very complimentary – telling me often that I make the “best food” or that she loves a picture of me that she took with her camera. She tells us often that we are “the best mama or the best dada” and one of my favorites, “mama you sew sparkles and love into my heart.”
For Wallis’ 4th birthday party, she requested a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting, and so I made her one and it turned out so good, which I was relieved about, because nothing was artificial about it and I was worried the strawberry flavor would get lost, but it worked out! She had a good birthday but she was in a hurry to get to the presents. She even blew out her candle before we had even gotten to the birthday part of the Happy Birthday song, ha!
I struggled with her independence that day and missed the birthdays where she would just sit there taking her entire birthday in and we could relax a bit more…this birthday it was on super drive to get to PRESENTS! Needless to say, there weren’t many pictures.
Andrew and I also renovated my moms (then mine) dollhouse that my mom’s dad had made her. It was a really special moment, and a huge hit.
Year 4 is a reminder that school is coming, and once school starts I feel like it is the beginning of the end and my impending death, ha! No no no, but you know what I mean…school marks the biggest change of all. So we have plans to hold tight to 4 and do our most to make it a good year. Happy birthday dearest of all the Wallis’ – you are the brightest light and the biggest heart. We love you more than you love cheese!