Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dear Gemma,

Dear Gemma,

When you were a tiny baby, Daddy and I wondered how we got so lucky to have you. As the years have passed, I've wondered when our luck would run out. Another year has passed, and I'm still wondering. Your soft cheeks, long hair, big eyes and continuing attachment to Ducky are proving a major disruption to my productivity as I stop to hug you or stroke your face or smell your hair. I've got the rest of my life to be productive, though, so I'll worry about that later.

This year you turned three and your vocabulary exploded. I love the stories you tell and listening to you play with your dolls. You have been as enthralled by the Harry Potter books as Ainsleigh and Donovan. The first time we watched "The Sorcerer's Stone" and Hagrid appeared, you clapped and squealed, "Dare's HagRID!" really pronouncing the R. You love the "Fancy Nancy" books, and we have read them countless times. The other books you love are David Shannon's "David" books. We've read them so much that you actually do the reading now. I've tried hiding the books, but you always seem to find them.

The one story that is your absolute favorite is "Duh Pale Green Pants" story, more formally (and accurately) titled, "What Was I Scared Of?" It's the last story in Dr. Seuss' "Sneetches" book. It's actually a story that kind of creeps me out. I mean, a pair of pants? Running around? Why WOULDN'T you be scared of them? And then they CRY?! You love to alternate saying lines with me and I have to withhold a shudder when you say (in its entirety):
I put my arm around their waist
And sat right down beside them.
I calmed them down.
Poor empty pants
With nobody inside them.
IT'S SO WEIRD. But you love it. And I love that you love it, even if I don't love it.

On your birthday, we said goodbye to sippy cups, moved you to a "big girl bed" and took down your crib. It was the easiest transition ever as you embraced getting older. And I just embraced you. As the kids would arrive home from school, you'd run to the front door and yell, "Welcome home, kids! How was your day?" You're like a mini-mom, and, thankfully, Ainsleigh and Donovan love to humor you in this. You quiz them about their day ("Who did you sit with at lunch?" "Tell me something funny that happened."  "Did you play with someone new?") and sit at the table while they do their homework, offering advice and encouragement.

I love that you look up to them. I love that they love to include you. I worry that we've spoiled you a little too much, but not enough to change a whole lot. When you started preschool this year, we had a little bit of a problem with appropriate reactions in situations. I made up "Gemma's Happy Chart" complete with happy face stickers that you took to/from school. When you could go the whole day without screaming, you earned a sticker. Ainsleigh and Donovan were so good to coach you before they left for school, "Do we scream?" "Are you going to be a good friend today?" They want you to succeed as much as I do. And when you do succeed, we all celebrate with you.

You are my constant companion in the kitchen. You will come sprinting into the room if I'm even just unloading the dishwasher and ask, "What are we making?" As I move from counter to counter to stove to counter, you're pushing a chair, climbing up, climbing down, pushing a chair, etc. You're helping measure and offering to stir and asking to taste. Even tonight, when I was making Thai Chicken Curry and knew it was a bit spicier than the other kids like, you were right there, tasting and asking for more. You love spicy foods. Even when your eyes are watering and your nose is pink, you're nodding and holding a thumbs up. Last year, at Grandma and Grandpa Ostler's house, when Aunt Jess's mom made a spicy authentic Thai dipping sauce, you were downing it faster than the adults. I think you won the in-laws over with that. Good job, Baby. The only thing that makes you turn and run is when I pull out an onion to dice. You are so sensitive that you have to leave the room.

And still, Ducky is always in the picture. And, more specifically Ducky's foot that you'll rub against your lips or nose when you're watching a movie or reading a book or falling asleep. I don't know how much longer Ducky will be so present in your life. You don't take Ducky to school, and usually not to church or to run errands. But we all know that Ducky is a cure-all. Ducky's baths have to be carefully scheduled while you're at school or after you fall asleep at night because otherwise it results in you staring at the washing machine door, watching the suds swirl around. You've been known to drag in one of your doll chairs and wait there for the glorious reunion when a cleaner, fresher Ducky emerges.

One of the things Daddy has been doing with you at night is laying down with you and playing a song for you on his phone. This was highlighted in our Retrospective with what you call "The Funny Ear Song," but which is actually Ellie Goulding's cover of "Your Song." We're not sure why you call it that, except that the album art has her throwing her head back and I guess her ear looks funny to you. You sing along with the entire song, and it makes my heart practically explode with love for you and Daddy. Sometimes I curl up with you both and think, "This is the best place in the whole world." And when I start to sit up to climb off the bed and you jump up and throw your arms around my neck to whisper in my ear, "I love you. I love you. I love you," I think, "I AM SO LUCKY!" I've won the lottery with you.

I love you so much. So very impossibly exponentially much. You probably won't understand until you have a baby of your own, but by then I'll love you a bajillion times more, so just know that no matter how much you think I love you, it's way way way more.



Becca said...

I love all of these!! Makes parenthood look so fun.

Christina said...

Your letters are so wonderful Sarah! You have brought tears to my eyes in reading all of them. Motherhood is such an amazing experience and you put it into words perfectly. What a special gift you have given to your children with these letters.