There are so many parts of our summer that I’ve said I’d like to share, but here it is, the last weekday of my summer vacation, and I’m only now sitting down to write! I have a post set to go up later this week about all of the stuff that’s been keeping us busy over the past several weeks, but first I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how much Natalie has grown this season. I’m always saying it, and I know other parents are experiencing it right along with us, but holy heck is my kid growing up so fast! This summer has felt like a pretty big period in her development out of the baby/toddler phase and into true kid status. Each time I look at photos of her I am taken aback at just how big she is, how much she has matured, and how much more capable and independent she is becoming. It is gratifying and terrifying and exciting and depressing all at once.
At Nat’s 3-year well-visit she was 40″ tall and weighed 40 pounds. In the past couple of months since her appointment her weight has actually gone done a couple of pounds but I know she is taller than 40″ now; the kid is growing like a weed, and towers over most of the other kids in her daycare class. Her two closest gal pals (who will be headed off to pre-school with her in just two weeks, *sniff*) are also tall for their age, thankfully, so she doesn’t look quite so much like a giant while they play together. Her pediatrician put her in the 100th percentile for height and 80th percentile for weight, and told us that by this age most doctors agree that you can say with some confidence what kind of height a child will reach–and the verdict for Natalie is TALL. We haven’t done the calculations to guesstimate a final height, but she’ll definitely be tall enough to dominate the basketball court if she so desires.
In addition to physically growing like it’s some kind of race, we’ve also noted that three and a half has turned out to be a great age for Natalie’s emotional growth, too. Tantrums have become incredibly rare (knock on wood!), and Nat is generally content being our sidekick in pretty much any situation. She has discovered that being polite to strangers and entertaining them with songs is a sure way to get through anything in public, and has made huge progress in leaving places (playgrounds, stores, beaches, etc.) without having those dreaded public meltdowns. It’s feels like we’re finally seeing all of the work we put in as parents pay off, and it is so rewarding to watch Natalie make good choices all on her own. Sweet Liv (who just welcomed baby boy River yesterday!!) wrote a post about seeing your work as a parent come to life in your child’s decisions, and it made me think about the return we’ve been getting from this parenting investment in Natalie. All the tears and timeouts and consequences and warnings (and, yes, I know there will be many, many more to come!) are worth it when you see your child thriving because of the limits you set. Those sleepless nights and moments of doubt and feelings of helplessness pass, and you start to feel like you must have done something right.
It’s not always perfect, but life with Natalie is feeling easier at this age. Probably, for as much as she has grown as kid, we’ve also grown and become more confident as her parents. When I think back on those early months, especially, and how cautious and scared we were–it’s much more fun to be able to relax a bit! Don’t get me wrong, I can’t escape getting teary-eyed over losing the baby, but I am feeling so much more capable than I did back then.
The other most notable development this summer has been Natalie’s language. Language has always been her strength, and she has never really struggled to communicate, but now she just blows us away with what she can talk about. The words that come out of this kid’s mouth–I just can’t believe it! A few things she has said lately (aside from, ahem, “Dammit!” this morning) that bowled me over include:
“Wow, it’s an exceptionally hot day!”
“Normally I don’t like crusts on my sandwiches, but today I do.”
“I promise to turn my attitude around, Mommy, I’ll make good choices so I get to play with the iPad, okay?”
“I’m not really a nurse, I’m just a child!”
And that doesn’t include all the usual hilarious stuff that comes out of her mouth! She is always playing make-believe and imagining elaborate conversations with her dolls, and there are countless times a day that I am just blown away by what she can say, comprehend, and imagine.
For all the good, there are, of course, challenges. Mostly, though, we are trying to hold on to these fleeting moments as time just whizzes by.