Tomorrow my little baby Eva will turn three years old and officially become a Big Girl. As an only child Eva has gotten away with a lot of baby behavior for far to long. My embarrassment is often confessed to friends when Eva demands, “I want my nipple babi (her bottle)” something she should have given up two years ago. At least she is not an eight year old sucking a pacifier or worse, my breast- thank god I gave that up on week six. Eva also still sleeps in a crib, and has been asking for a big girl bed for at least a year. I have been promising her that she can finally have her big girl bed for six months but I keep shifting the date of my promise, counting on her inability to fathom time.
Now that she is heavy enough to give me a hard time lifting her into her crib, I have decided to take the metaphorical reindeer by the antlers and allow her to move into a big girl bed tomorrow. We will also be relinquishing her afternoon nap, my only two hour break on the weekends to work, surf facebook, write my blog, etc. I will miss her nap, but I won’t miss the bedtimes, which have lengthened to at times 10pm. I think I really loved her nap a bit too much. In exchange for her big girl bed and not having a nap Eva has to make an even trade and give up her bottles, this will be difficult to enforce, but life must move on. Parenting is really just a very long lesson in the art of the barter.
The upside of having an almost three year old is the tantrums have downsized, although a lot of parents say it is not the terrible 2s, it’s the terrible 1s,2s and 3s. Eva herself had her first tantrum a few days after her first birthday when I came to collect her from school. Auntie Zoe saw my new mother of a toddler look of horror, and lifted her hand to stop me from reacting further and said, “ This is a tantrum, you must ignore it.” The worst tantrums of course were right around two but they have been steadily improving since then. A friend of mine said her daughter’s tantrums were so bad she was convinced it was her personality, but it did shift eventually, and she was hugely relieved that it was just a phase, albeit a very long one.
Like all phases, as you see the backside of one, the next one hits you totally unprepared. Eva’s turning three phase is an honesty phase, when she says exactly what she thinks, right when she thinks it without social tact, embarrassment, or any kind of filtration. I hope it’s an almost three year old phase, but the thought has crossed my mind that she could have possibly inherited this character trait from my mother, and in that case it will be more than just a phase, and an interminably long one. My mother calls it “Telling It Like It Is.”
When we were at a Christmas party recently Eva was waiting patiently with Daddy to use the bathroom, when the very tall father of the host exited the bathroom. Eva yelled, “Daddy that man looks like the CREEPER,” hiding behind his legs while desperately trying to hold her wee. The Creeper for those who aren’t up on their Scooby Doo is one of the monsters that haunts the Mystery Kids.
A far worse example was when I had been to the gym, and in my usual crazy rush neglected to take a shower for one, perhaps several days and when I picked Eva up one such afternoon from school, she threw her little arms around me and stuck her nose in my crotch and yelled, “Mommy You are Stinky!” at least twice to my complete mortification. I knew somewhere my own mother was enthusiastically nodding.
Then there was the time when we were at the coffee shop and I saw her little friend Gwyenie coming through the door and alerted Eva of her arrival. Just as Gwyenie entered our room Eva yelled, “But I don’t like Gwyenie.” I smiled as my cheeks blushed, and Eva continued to completely ignore the little girl. I suppose the lesson there is I can’t choose my daughter’s friends.
Although Eva’s tantrums have diminished now that she is three, she is harder to fool. Her newest phrase is, “It’s not fair.” She says this at any and every time she has to go to bed, turn off the TV or eat a green vegetable. I am not sure what “fair” is in comparison to because she is an only child and sure her 40 something parents are allowed to stay up past 9 pm, the terrible irony is they would love to go to bed at 9, but they have a night owl toddler and lack the energy for “It’s not fair,” discipline.
We are aware that as an only child, there are drawbacks and advantages. She gets at least 20 books read to her a day, we harp on about the important questions in life, like if she ate five or eight green beans, every sheet is clean and her lunch box rotated every three months, she is signed up for gymnastics and swimming three months in advance, she has an album for every year of her life, a drawer for her artwork, framed pictures of every childhood milestone and has at least twenty gifts under the Christmas tree.
At several times we have had those parental conversations about not spoiling her yet it still happens. We decided when she was still in the womb that after her first year we would throw her a birthday party with her friends in the summer so that she would not suffer from having a birthday right next to Christmas, a birthday everyone forgets except for Jesus. This year was our first with a June birthday party, as soon as it was done I thought phew I can cross that off the list but by the time December rolled around, I thought oh lets have a little lunch for family and godparents. So now Eva is having another birthday party tomorrow, complete with cake, a treasure hunt and more and more presents. Opps it just kind of happened perhaps because it takes a landmark in our toddler’s life to get us to host a social event.
Unbeknownst to me, Auntie Zoe threw a birthday party on Wednesday for Eva because several of her friends at nursery were going away for Christmas. That night Eva had a tantrum reminiscent of when she was twenty four months old. I was shocked, OMG she has regressed. The following day when I found out about the party Auntie Zoe and I put together that she was expecting to get her big girl bed that night, but yet again mommy disappointed her. I felt really guilty, confusing the poor child with not one but three birthdays, she probably didn’t know if she was two, three or twenty three.
Tomorrow is her actual birthday, not one of the several “Unbirthdays” and I hope it lives up to her expectations. My mother has already started coaching her for the occasion. My mother just returned from Boston where she purchased a little black dress for Eva to wear on her big day. When she gave Eva the dress, she said.
“Now Eva, when your grandfather suggested black for your birthday dress, my first thought was no of course you cant buy a child a black dress, it needs to be pink or purple.”
Eva did not react and kept playing with her legos.
“Then when he said you would look fabulous in it because of your blonde hair, I reconsidered.”
Eva barely makes eye contact but pretends to be an elephant.
“Every woman no matter what age needs the quintessential little black dress,”
my mother continued.
Eva continued pretending to be a sleeping elephant, a sophisticated make believe play, a clever disguise for I’m not interested.
“It should be multi-seasonal, go from day wear to evening wear, smart casual and dressed up for formal.”
Eva the elephant was pretending to snore.
“Black is slimming, but the material and cut is just as important, and then there is the label, recognizability is a must if you want to be anyone who is anyone.”
“Mom she is turning three not thirty.”
“Never too early.”
I look down at my daughter as she picks her nose and chases the dog around the house.
“Mom, I hate to break it to you but I think she is a tom boy.”
“Hmphf, you’re the one that pointed out she is only three. I have started her an account at Talbots, they are having a special on tweed.”
“We are having a special on vodka at Eva’s party.”
“Then we will all be happy?”
“Only if Eva wears her little black dress.”
“I will make sure to wear perfume.”
Happy Birthday to Eva!