Three is such an interesting age, such a mix of big kid and baby all of a sudden. Sofie can now tell me all sorts of things about her interior world that she couldn't before - little glimpses into her thoughts and feelings in more depth than she was capable of communicating a month or two ago. Every day she's learning to do something new or mastering some new skill.
And at the same time she clings to my leg in a way she didn't a month ago and is definitely struggling with wanting both to be independent and to be mama's little baby for just a while longer. Sometimes she's so capable and accomplished that I find myself thinking of her as a much older kid, and then I notice her tiny little body and how all of her still fits on the diaper table, or catch a glimpse of her round, little-kid belly poking through her tee shirt, and my heart just melts.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that she's still been using a bottle at night as part of her bedtime routine, but this week I decided that this needed to come to an end, for once and for all. We talked about it for four days straight, how on Friday we were going to put away all the bottles and use a brand new milk cup at bedtime because "bottles are for babies." She was sad about it, but by the end of the week she'd accepted the idea. Today we went out and got a new cup, covered it in stickers, and at nap and bedtime she took to it well enough. I think she misses her bottle, but as she now states, "bottles are for babies with no teeth." One small step for toddlerhood.
We're getting ready for preschool, which starts in about three weeks. At orientation last week they said to bring the kids over to visit the summer classes as often as we want - it makes it a lot easier for the kids (and the teachers!) on the first day if they've already gotten comfortable in the place. So today we toodled on over there around 11:00 to visit, and found her class out on the very fabulous playground.
Her teacher was just lovely, came over and got down on the ground and held Sofie's hands for a while and talked to her, then invited her to go play with the other kids. This is just what Sofie had been waiting for, because she's had her eye on their big wooden train for quite some time now. Off she went to climb in the engine and "drive" it to Rainbow Canyon (her default destination for all pretend vehicles), motioning me over now and then when she needed someone to ring the bell that was just out of reach.
After a while she wanted to go over to one of the jungle-gyms that several kids were hanging out inside.
"Go ahead, they won't mind if you join in," I said, and she bravely squared her shoulders and went in. They took a look at her but in the way of three year olds, no one said much to her one way or the other.
"Hi, I'm Sofie," she said proudly, her belly peeking out of her tiny little teeshirt and her braid bouncing down her back. No one answered her, but she didn't seem to mind. Later one of them came and rode the tire swing with her.
But me, I swear I almost teared up at my little brave munchkin, running off and introducing herself to kids she doesn't know, full of such enthusiasm and wonder. She's only three and already she's ready to careen off into the world a little bit, already has the rudimentary skills to start figuring out how to make friends on her own.
I might have held her a bit too close on the way out. But she's still my baby.