Thursday, July 31, 2014

Two and Three-Quarters

It's funny, when the moons of young childhood align . . . history catches up to itself . . . some other profound way to describe that time when one child hits the same age another one was at some significant point. (That's a thing, right? Anyone know what I'm talking about?) It's been like that for the last six months with Claire.

We moved back to Nashville, into our current house, when Kate was 2 1/4. Six months later, when Kate was 2 3/4, Claire was born. So that period of time when Kate was 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 is easily bookended in my mind. I remember setting up the playroom, playing on the old swingset in the backyard, and pulling the baby clothes out of the attic, all with my firstborn by my side. My firstborn who felt SO BIG!

Compared to her own baby self, two-year-old Kate seemed totally articulate! She can answer questions and string four or five words together to make a coherent thought! Then Claire comes along and I think, "What? At two, most strangers can't understand what my kid is saying. Heck, I can't understand every word she says!" At two, Kate seemed like a "big kid" to me. Not a squishy little baby like my Clairy still is, right?

Nope. Exhibit A. Squishy two-year-old Kate.

It's all a matter of perspective. Of course Kate seemed big, compared to only herself at a younger age! Of course Claire seems baby-like in the shadow of a big sister who seems SO BIG now, until I see her walking down that kindergarten hallway past a line of fourth-graders! Thinking of this in light of that birth order book I wrote about the other day, it's no wonder kids grow up differently. I expect Kate to be more mature and more responsible because she's the oldest. When Claire is five, eight-year-old Kate will still be more mature and responsible, so I'll expect more from her than I do Claire, who will seem so little at only 5 1/2! (What pressure for a firstborn kid! I better watch that!)

So Claire is now the age Kate was when she became a big sister. Claire became a big sister to BGC almost a year ago, so while we hope BGC can return to her parents one day, Claire already fills what (we hope) will be her ultimate middle-child position. And it suits her. She's not the baby of the house, and she's not the biggest, but she's cool with that and pretty much goes with the flow.

I love seeing how different Kate and Claire are—not just because of their ages and the perception warp that inevitably happens—but simply their natures (and maybe some of that birth order stuff as well). Here's my Clairy at two and three quarters:
  • So good-natured. She has typical two-year-old tantrums, of course, when she doesn't get what she wants or we don't understand what she's saying, but her default mood is pretty even-keeled, cheerful, and agreeable. "O-tay!" is a pretty typical response when we ask her to do something.
  • Only wants to wear dresses, wants her hair in "Elsa braid, "Anna braids," or "ponytail like Mommy."
  • Loves to play Memory and do jigsaw puzzles, and she's really good at both! I say she's my "little scientist," being very precise and perceptive. She either doesn't grasp the idea of competition, or doesn't care, because she will happily point out to other players where the matching Memory cards are on their turn. (Kate encourages this when it's her turn, and scolds Claire when it's mine!)
  • Still Kate's little shadow. Those girls are inseparable, and Claire follows Kate's lead to a T. She often repeats Kate's words and actions with barely one second's delay. Can be persuaded to do almost anything if it's "like Kate."
  • That said, she is starting to assert herself a little more against Kate's assumption that she can walk all over her doting sister! She'll tell Kate "Stop that right now!" and is quick to play the innocent-baby-sister card, screaming if Kate offends her in some way that may or may not be justified.
  • Loves peanut butter, baked beans, and (her latest obsession) buttered bread. "I do it!" she says (compare that to Kate and the rice cake), and we just have to make her promise not to eat the margarine right out of the tub as she's spreading it on her bread. "O-tay..." she replies dejectedly.
  • Making good progress on potty training. Won't do #2 on the potty, though. One day I asked her to please put a pull-up on before pooping, if she really couldn't bear to do it on a potty, and she did! 
  • One might use the term "hot mess" for Claire. She's prone to looking a bit disheveled or not-perfectly-polished, but it's part of her charm. 

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