In trying to decide what child and what stories to write about for this post, I let my title set the direction. It was the first title to pop into my head, and though we have many things to share, I will stick with little Isabel this time. (Sorry, Thomas, you are next!)
My little “Princess” – she prefers to be Aurora most days but today chose to be Cinderella – has taken some interesting turns these past few weeks. Her conversation is more “older” girl now, not to be deceived by her height, and her sass and spunk have turned into brass and funk. Funk? Well, not the sort of funk us adults might go through, but her own special ‘tude funk that tends to make this Momma weary. It’s stoic, it’s serious, it rolls eyes, it has blank stares, it says “No!”, it shows no pleasure. Yeah, that kind of spunky funk.
The first few times I heard her tone and her bold exclamations I was inclined to laugh or stand in shock at her capacity to understand the situation and manipulate it [me.] But then I started to realize that her behavior during those moments was not singular and might stick around for a while, slowly weaving its way into the fabric of her being.
And now I have to decide what to do about it. Here we go with Parenting again!
Clearly, I am avoiding details as I will prefer to remember the little angel that sleeps somewhere inside that growing body of hers. Let it suffice to say she may be experiencing some hormonal shifts, which I hear are just a taste of what will come 10 years from now. This is also evidenced by the way she will just look at me half an hour after some deviant act with her most sincere (attempt at a) smile and blurt out, “I LOOOOOOVE YOU!” The batting of her eyelashes while sitting in my lap is a lovely touch.
But on to her more innocent 3 year old moments.
Along with her emotional shifts, we have seen her imagination blossom, as well. She loves to pretend play with everyone and their uncle; from playing princesses (Thomas willingly one of them) and building castles to hiding from bad guys and wolves trying to come in through our front door. Her special imaginative treat of the night is when I get to tell her stories.
Every night now she will tell me the main criteria for the story she wants: it usually involves her losing something. One night she pleaded, “Tell me a story of going into the new world and losing my eyes.” “Are you sure Isabel?” “It’s okay, Mader, it’s not for real, it’s just for pretend.” “Okaaaaay.” And I told her the story of how the old lady took her eyes so that she could see, leaving Isabel crying alone and blind without eyeballs on the sidewalk. I think that one scared her because after the story ended she said, “Momma, I’m not going to lose my eyes? I won’t talk to any bad old ladies.” (Don’t worry, I always find a way for her to get her parts back.)
After that darker story I hoped she would stop asking to lose vital body parts. But they kept coming. “Tell me a story of how I lose my head.” This time I tried to find a happier way for her to lose her head. It involved crawling through her cubby hole under her bed, entering a new world near a queen’s castle where she met a mean cat who made her head disappear. Isabel then tried to get the queen to help her, just to get sent to a wizard who then told her she needed to bring back a hair of a dragon so that he could make a special potion for her head to reappear. She loved it.
I’ve been telling these stories for the last month now and it is amazing how the words just spill out of my mouth. It is certainly getting easier but I will admit on tougher nights I tend to use inspiration from classic kid’s stories. Another funny effect of all this is how I put myself to sleep. I think these turn out to be the stranger stories because I cannot remember the sentence I just told her. As I’m drifting I will just hear her say, “keep saying it!” and I try very hard to remember, realizing that what I said probably made no sense at all. Kind of like Lewis Carroll, but not quite.
We’ve been playing lots of board games with her recently, too. Hubby must have got tired of Chutes & Ladders and Candyland because he just got Enchanted Forest for her, a fun strategy game for 6+ year olds. We’ve simplified it significantly but it is more involved than sliding down chutes and meeting Princess Frostine. Besides, being strategy game fans ourselves we have to train her for the adult games to come! Agricola anyone?
She continues to be a wonderful big sister, always eager to have Thomas do as she is doing. (He loves wearing her princess slippers and I love watching him shuffle down the hall in them.) She is rooting for a baby sister and promises to take good care of it, despite the frequent elbows and knees to my belly suggesting otherwise.
And despite all the struggles and sometimes long nighttime routines, hearing her whisper after I thought she was sleeping, “please don’t leave me,” reminds me that she is still my little 3 year old girl, who still wants her Momma.