"Oh Ho, the Mystery Toe, hung for all to see"
(think "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas"...)
Anika at her most magical, merrily singing her own words to her favorite holiday song. It is easy to find the magic in her impish fairy self, her smarts and humor and curiosity. It is the other side of Ani that is still a mystery. I'll admit, I have not yet put "Your Three Year Old" on hold at the library, and here we are on the slippery downslope to four already. My aunt Kerry once told me, in my early days of parenthood, that if I found myself at a loss during the infant phase, or out of synch with toddlerhood, I would likely find my niche in adolescence or young adulthood. Her theory is that everyone is good at some age. I don't think "my age" is three. It was hard with E and it is proving challenging, albeit in different ways, with A. I had three kids come to me at coop today to tell me that Ani was being a bully. Now, mind you, I am with her about 90 % of the time there, when I am not getting her lunch, helping another kid in the bathroom, or taking my turn supervising free play in the gym, so I'm not sure how extensive this bullying was, but suffice it to say that the word on the street is that Anika and her newly-3 little buddy Sawyer were terrorizing the older kids. When I asked Ani about it, she laughed merrily and said she LIKES playing with mad people!! Hm. I actually believe this, though I cannot begin to really understand it. We have had a few mornings when I am fortified with enough sleep and St. John's Wort to remain patient and calm while being harassed in some form or another (particular buttons: yelling something over and over while someone is still sleeping; opening and closing the fridge door over and over) and eventually she stops and tells me she is waiting for my mad voice. While this makes me sad, because she is all too familiar with my mad voice, I find it really interesting that she is that direct and aware of what is going on. I have recently and fortuitously been reminded that kids her age need a lot of help developing empathy. How could I have forgotten that? She is still at the age where she is fascinated by another person's emotions, and completely detached at the same time.
Sigh. I will let you know when the epiphany comes and I finally "get" three. In the meantime, here is some more magic, which glues our days together...(This first picture was taken while she held us and some friends captive with 10 minutes of song and story. While Eliza takes easily to performing and begs for that kind of attention, Ani is usually more reserved with company, sidles up to you and checks you out. I look at her feet and her face in this photo and get tingles of how swept up she was in her world.)
And, as my friend Stacy has said, because this is my blog (!), and parents can and will brag about every little thing their starry children do, I had to include evidence of one of Ani's true talents: folding. She has been doing this since she was 2, and she is GOOD at it! So, here she is, in action. In her more expansive and generous moments I will even overhear her offering to help Eliza fold the clothes that are strewn about her room.
An addendum by Poppy:
Tonight at dinner (while Debbie was at the gym on campus and in pain thanks to her "Core" class) Ani was blissfully telling herself a non-stop story while Eliza and I talked over tomato soup and cheese on toast. This happens a lot. It is not for anyone else but her. I was sitting right next to her and could not make out what she was saying. After a while Eliza said to me, "She's in her own world - and it's Romantic!" I was surprised by this and denied that the world that Anika is in is always romantic. Eliza said, "I'm with her a lot more than you are, Dad. It is romantic."