On this, the morning of your third birthday, I had to wake you out of a deep, deep sleep (as usual). You groaned, you burrowed under your pile of stuffed animals, you murmured, “But I’m still tired.” And I said, “I know, baby, but do you know what today is?” As soon as the words left my mouth, you popped your head up, and your face immediately lit up with your brilliant smile. You crowed, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!” You were so excited all morning before we left the house -- about your cupcakes (the minions from Despicable Me, painstakingly made by Mommy), about your tee-shirt (a picture of an ice cream cone and a doughnut running through a sprinkler that sprays actual sprinkles, a gift from Aunt Anne), about the dinner you chose to have for your birthday tonight (Chinese food). Your excitement was contagious, and by the time we left for school, my face hurt from smiling at you so much.
That seems to be how I perpetually live my life with you these days -- in a sore-faced state from smiling and a sore-bellied state from laughing. You’re such an incredible little boy. Three years after the day you were born, I still find myself just as in awe of you as I was when we first met. Your fingers and toes, so much bigger now than they were when you were a newborn, are still a marvel to me when I hold your hands and tickle your feet. Your belly button, swirly as a cinnamon roll, is still just as sweet. Your cheeks, chubby and dimpled, are just as kissable as they were on the day I met you. Although you are hardly ever still these days, whenever you are, I find myself just watching you and breathing you in. Your big, liquid brown eyes, your fine blond hair and bowed lips, your Will-smell of clean sheets and grass. You’re a marvel.
At three years old, you’re quite a chatterbox. You can make jokes and argue and negotiate. You can tease and compliment and tell us, in great detail and with many embellishments, what you did at school. You love to sing and dance. You love reading books, especially We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Little Blue Truck, and Frosty the Snowman. Your favorite things to watch are Despicable Me and Bubble Guppies. You love stickers, cinnamon French toast sticks, bananas, sleeping (your love of sleep still amazes me, considering that you spent the first nine months of your life not doing it), and drawing. Your best friend is named Jaxon. You have an entire crew of stuffed creatures that must be with you at all times: Puppy Pillow Pet, Little Puppy Pillow Pet, Puppy, Big Puppy, Elly, Gil, Bubble Puppy, Angry Bird, Perry the Platypus, Patrick Santa, Luigi, and Gus Gus Puppy (you named all of them yourself). You don’t like having your picture taken or wearing clothes when you don’t have to. You still use an atty, but only at night, and I’m okay with it. I’ll let you hold onto this last bit of babyhood, since the other aspects of it are so quickly fading.
You’re nearly potty-trained, which has been a fairly recent development, and it’s been completely effortless. I’m so proud of you for being such a big boy. Every time you use the potty successfully, you get a marshmallow, the size of which depends on what you do on the potty. In true Will fashion, you always try to negotiate for a big marshmallow, even if you’ve only peed. In true Mommy fashion, I’m almost always unable to resist you, so I usually relent.
You definitely have a temper, and you don’t always like to listen. You think time-out is the most hilarious thing in the world. You feel everything strongly, and you live life at full-tilt, head-first. I admire your vivacity and your positivity, and I hope you never lose those traits. I even admire your stubbornness, although not so much when it’s directed at me. I’ve said this before and it’s still true: People are just drawn to you. I have a vision of your future in which you’re the class clown, the center of attention, a boy with so much intelligence and wit and spark. I don’t know if it’s an accurate vision, but I’m enjoying every moment of watching you become who you’re going to be.
I’m also enjoying every moment of watching your relationship with your brother blossom. You two fight so much and it drives me crazy, but even more often than that, you’re playing together, having discussions, inventing worlds for yourselves that I’m not a part of. I can almost physically see the two of you becoming a unit, and it’s the most incredible, magical thing.
The other day I was lying on the couch, and I looked over at where you were standing and was shocked that I could see your entire head over the arm of the couch. I thought for sure that you must be standing on something, because I knew you weren’t that tall! What a shock it was when I sat up and realized that no, suddenly, you are that tall. Your legs have lost all of their babyish chunkiness; they’re little boy legs now. You’re thinning out, losing your wrist rolls and your finger dimples. You’re becoming a little boy before my eyes, and I simply can’t believe you’re three years old already. In some ways you seem so much older, but in some ways you still seem like my baby. You are still my baby. I think you probably always will be.
My favorite time of day with you is when you’re all tucked in bed, surrounded by your plush friends. You look up at me, smiling around your atty, and whisper, “I want now I lay me down to sleep.” I recite the prayer, letting you finish each line. On nights you’re feeling particularly silly, you make up nonsense words at the end of each line. Some nights you ask for songs, some nights you ask for an extra hug. I tell you to sleep tight, and that I love you, and sometimes you say “Thank you,” while sometimes you say, “I wuv oo too!” Every night is a little different, but every night feels like a quiet, safe, perfect moment in our otherwise fast and loud lives. I’m so happy to share these sweet, still moments with you, just as much as I’m happy to share the lovely loud ones. Every moment with you feels like a gift. Thank you for all the thousands of moments we’ve had, and for the millions that are yet to come. Happy Birthday, my littlest darling.