Little Libra turned 3 years old, 3 days ago and she’s crossing bridges– literally. At her favorite playground, a bridge with criss crossed chains and holes big enough to slip through separate the low, boring baby slides from the high, bumpy big kid slides. When she started walking, crossing the bridge was out of the question. Then she got curious so I had to cross the bridge myself and hand hold her to the other side. Then she kind of got the hang of it and I stayed on the ground, assisting her with my hands, completely stressed that she’d slip, hit her chin and crack her lip. Until finally she saw other kids cross independently. She summed up the courage to try it on her own. Courage and confidence are different things. The courage coincided with her competitive streak. She did it but needed me an inch away to catch her. When she became confident, I could be 5 feet away and just needed me to applaud her. But today, she not only crossed the bridge, she slipped (as my heart flipped) held on and pulled herself out of trouble– all on her own, with a smile on her face. No trauma, no crying. That’s when I knew that my three year-old crossed the bridge from a baby to a big girl.
Just in time too. She’ll be an Ate in January. And I want/need her to be a role model.
So here are bridges we need to cross by the end of the year:
- Saying goodbye to the bottle. The doctor had advised me to start this at 2 but I didn’t have the heart. Now that a baby is coming, the distinction between herself and the little one is clear. Does she want to do things a baby does? Am I marketing to my own kid? Probably.
- Sharing her room. With a 3 bedroom condo with very small helper’s quarters, using the third room as a bedroom is impractical. It needs to be the multi-purpose playroom, laundry area, helper’s sleeping room. There’s a reason I made her room unisex. I wanted it to be shared and I was sure I’d get sick of a pink. So we’ll be moving her toys to the other room slowly. But she only relented when I promised I’d spruce it up a bit. So we’re adding curtains. Smart idea on her part.
- Easing out the night diaper. She uses one diaper a day and that is only at bedtime. I’d like to relegate her diaper budget to the baby. Again, diapers are “for babies.” She’s a big girl and can use the toilet. This is more arduous on my end. Getting up with her 2-3 times a night isn’t fun. As luck may have it, I don’t get up at all during this pregnancy. So this is the hardest bridge we have to cross and I have a feeling it’ll involve a lot of wet sheets.
But what about the bridges we’ve crossed by 3? I’m proud to say that she is:
- Enjoying pre-school. It took her about 2 weeks to say goodbye without crying and then 3 months to get really comfortable with her school family and let her hair down. Now she’s singing, dancing and making kwento about all our family adventures to her teachers. Sometimes she wants me to leave the classroom immediately as if there’s a secret she doesn’t want me to know about.
- Flowing through her morning routine. She used to hate waking up, taking a bath, dressing up, eating,. brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes and hurrying out the door. It was a chore to get her to move from one task to another. A CHORE. But after 3 months, the mornings are more peaceful and stress-free. She’s objecting less, obeying more—after some reasoning/negotiating/pleading. The real secret is relentless repetition. No change of sequence allowed. Sometimes, she’ll want to spice it up by eating before showering with a matching tantrum. But it doesn’t work. Changing the sequence is a recipe for tardiness. I had to remind myself that she can’t read time. When asked what time it is, she looks at the clock and says confidently, “Two hours.”
- Making friends. She’s no longer on the sidelines, looking from the outside. Her personality has blossomed! With the confidence that she has friends at school and at our building, making new ones is a snap. She usually has her props—a toy or some food, inches closer to her prospect and eventually shares. Voila! Friends!! Sometimes, she just smiles and runs circles around the kid, stops, makes eye contact and runs around again. This is her word-free way of inviting a kid to a round of habulan. (Of course, it can also be interpreted as early signs of flirting- yikes!). Or she just starts singing an unchained melody of Twinkle Twinkle-Row your Boat-Wheels on the Bus-Tomorrow, until another kid picks up on the repertoire and sings along. The girl is Putting. Herself. Out. There.
Last week, I got really sentimental that this 3rd birthday would be the last time Little Libra would be treated as a baby. Poor kid. Whether she likes it or not, she’ll be an Ate and more will be expected from her. But now that I’ve seen the milestones she has reached at 3, I think she can handle it. (Knowing her, the seniority card will be in her play book in a year’s time!) Of all the bridges we’ve crossed together since she she was born, having a new baby is by far the biggest challenge, demanding the most from her. But I feel like she’ll welcome her fiercest ally with more aplomb than I expect. I see us crossing this bridge together as a unit rather than me standing on the side waiting for her to summon the maturity. With my own big girl assistant at my side, starting all over again with an infant doesn’t seem as daunting as it should. (Fingers crossed!)
Happy 3rd Birthday my Love. You’re officially an Ate in my eyes.