You, my sweet middle child, grew in my womb for a full extra week, emerging only a small handful of days before Christmas. You do like to do things on your own timetable, don't you? Slow to warm up, you prefer to play quietly on the floor near me rather than join group activities. But when you're ready, you dive in wholly, and your laughter and shrieks rise above the rest of the noise.
It's hard, though, to fully celebrate you when the rest of our community is neck-deep in carols and gifts and good Christmas cheer. So we tried something different this year, didn't we? Three and a half seemed like a perfect place for a celebration, and celebrate we did.
You shared your Daddy's birthday this year and it was as exciting for you as it was relieving for him, that man who prefers anything but the spotlight. You chose sushi for lunch (no one was surprised) while Daddy requested ribs and rice for dinner. We had a delicious berry crumble in lieu of a more traditional cake, served warm out of the oven with the mandatory scoop of vanilla ice cream.
You love animals, zoos, and Duplos, and your shriek of excitement when you opened your Duplo zoo was truly delightful. You loved, too, your king's robe and crown, the perfect complement to your knight outfit and dragon cape. Your brother proved how well he knows you when he chose a Schleich sea lion; you wanted a bath immediately so it could go swimming with you in the tub.
There is nothing quite like watching you and your brother grow up together. There are moments of sibling squabbles, of course, but usually the two of you are best friends, lost together in whatever imaginary tale you are weaving on the living room floor. Cities, castles, forts; families, animals, cops-and-robbers; fantasy, truth, and a larger-than-life mixture of the two. You giggle quietly together after the lights are turned out at night; you comfort each other after difficult moments.
No one else, ever, will know what it was for you two to grow up together. No one else, ever, will have this pool of shared experiences. What you two have is unique and important and I pray you will always cherish it dearly, and I pray the same for the unique relationships that will continue to blossom between you two and your baby sister as she grows - and any siblings that may come in the years ahead.
You have so many hopes for your future. You want to be a "hockey man" and a "construction site-er" and a "baker" all at once. Your days are filled with hockey and dump trucks and cries of "I want to help!" whenever I begin to prepare a meal. You are loud - so loud - and passionate and beautiful and frustrating and tender and loud and snuggly and loud. Your needs are not your brother's needs and I have had to grow to meet you where you are, a unique creation of God. It hasn't been easy but thank you for stretching me.
You're already asking the hard questions and I delight to see you growing in three-year-old wisdom. Whenever we don't know something, you are quick to remind us "but God knows!", and you are so very right, my love. He knows. And He loves you so perfectly and completely, forever and always. Don't stop asking those hard questions, and don't stop trusting that God holds the answers that remain beyond our grasp.
You with the big eyes and the long lashes and the oh-so-serious expression, I love you. Forever and always.