As I posted yesterday, I write Z a letter on her birthday each year. Today is her fourth birthday (I just can't believe it).
It has been a long, hard year since I last wrote you. Aside from the professional difficulties that I have had this year, the added pressure of you becoming a child over a baby has weighed heavily on me.
Since you turned three, your personality and demeanor have completely changed. The sweet cuddly toddler that I once snuggled with has turned into a headstrong preschooler with thoughts and opinions that often clash with my own.
You talk all of the time now and I know longer have to translate what you are saying to strangers or relatives. You run like a big kid, not at all like the semi-wobble of last year and you are so fast that I really have to work to keep up with you these days.
This is the year that you started coordinating numbers with counting. I am so proud that you can not only count to twenty but that you can do simple math.
It is also the year that you began not only identifying the letters the alphabet, but also begin recognizing their sounds. You are beginning to read 3-letter words and I cannot begin to tell you the amount of awe that I have on a daily basis at your capacity to learn.
You are highly competitive. You do not like anyone being noticed before you, or praised above you. You thrive when you are center stage, commanding all to pay attention. You insist on being first and refuse to accept that someone else may be more deserving of the limelight. (Personally, I blame myself for this. My personality is a lot like yours and you may have inherited this trait from your momma. Hopefully, you will use this trait for a healthy dose of drive and determination and not let it manifest as greed or jealousy.)
This year, you have finally stopped lashing out physically in frustration which has been a huge impact in our relationship. Rather than biting, hitting, scratching and pinching, you are now using your words to express your outrage. There are times, however, that the words that you say cut through me like a knife and I am left with a gaping hole in my heart. Your go-to phrase lately is that you wish that you were an orphan. This is one of the few wishes that you have that I pray never comes true. And that I completely blame Disney for.
You have increased your vocabulary by so much this year and a great deal of what you say surprises your Daddy and I. Words like "acceptable", "humbling", "demonstrating", and "interject" roll of your tongue with the ease of someone that has always possessed them. The fact that you use them at your age is impressive, the fact that you understand what they mean and use them correctly is awesomely scary. There are words that you have learned this year that have been banned from our household. Words like "fat" and "poop" and "hate" are no longer tolerated and will always be bad words in our home. I know that right now this confuses you, but someday, you will have a 3 year old and you will understand.
This is the first year that we have had expectations of you, which is what has led to a lot of the conflicts that we have had. We know what you are capable of, we see it on a daily basis. When you refuse to do what is asked of you, when you do not listen, or purposely disregard the rules, this was the first year that we have truly been disappointed in your behavior, rather than having excuses. This was the first year that you have received real punishments (confiscation of a toy, limitations on activities, etc) and that there have been real consequences to your actions.
You are more conscientious of your surroundings now than you ever have been and fully think out things before following through with your impulses. It is good to see you thinking through your decision rather than running straight to them. It also helps me know when you may be up to no good.
What breaks me the most is how much you have grown in the last year. You have real wrists and ankles now. The day that I noticed that, I died inside a little. You have gone from wearing a 4T at last year's party to a 6T! It kills me to see you growing up so fast and makes me yearn for that baby that I carried so long ago.
4 years. It has been a crazy, wild, and fun ride little girl and we are only getting started. I can't wait to see what this year has in store for the both of us. If you don't mind though, I am gonna buckle us both up - I think it might get a little bumpy along the way.
I love you.