There have been more than a few moments lately where I find myself thinking that RR at almost four is funny and delightful and wishing I could bottle some of it to open on a cloudy sixteen year old day.
Yesterday, she wore a bathrobe to school. So far she hasn’t shown any interest in picking out her own clothes and rarely leaves the house in a mish-mash. But I had left the hand-me-down to-try-on robe where she could see it and she pulled it on and left clad, hood-up, in blue terrycloth adorned with yellow duckies.
When she opens her mouth we’re shocked at the full sentences and complex thoughts that come out. She can explain herself when she’s upset and entertain us with ridiculous jokes. She is often thinking two or three steps in ahead. The other night, she was watching a movie when we told her it was time for bed (a babysitting tactic gone on too long). She unearthed the right remote, deftly turned it on, and paused the movie. She headed to bed without upset but, when she got there, she asked Debra, “Is mama playing her game? (a video game I don’t play in the evening)” When my wife answered in the negative, she said, “Good, she hasn’t unpaused my show” I had been in the living room thinking that we were rotting her brain, it seems to be working fine.
She does things she’s never done before without a second thought. I was planting on Sunday, putting in new herbs and vegetables while she played in her room. It was going on two hours and I was wondering what had happened to her when she stuck her head out the screen door and asked to help water. Covered in dirt, I suggested she wait until I could find her watering can. She ducked back inside and came out 5 minutes later having found the can, opened a stool, and filled the can with water. When asked where she got the water, she said, you were too busy for the barrel* mama, so I used the sink.
I’m the most struck when we’re in places with other kids her age. She seems absolutely spring-loaded. We were trying on new shoes at a kid’s shop and when asked, she raced in a circle, skipped, jumped, and hopped, all to make sure they fit. I was parts embarrassed and parts proud as other mothers with three and four year olds stared. At the gym on Saturdays she clambered on to a balance beam three feet off the floor and did assisted somersaults.
Even the little things surprise me, like her compassion when I cracked my head on the door (she fetched an ice pack) and directness (when my parent’s dog touches her with his nose she says I AM NOT FOOD DUNCAN!”). My mom and dad have been gone two weeks now (amazing). She found two animal crackers in her seat and insisted on taking one in for grannie and one for pop-pop, even though they had gone. Oh honey, Debra said, and her eyes welled right up and hovered on the brink of spilling over. But we could see her shake it off and plan for the next time she sees them.
She is well-liked at school. We see her play with different kids all the time, some days as pirates finding treasure others as monsters playing freeze tag. Parents tell us that their own kids talk about her at home (a little embarrassing as RR never mentions a soul). This is how we find out that she makes the other kids laugh, that her smile lights up the room, that she’s a joy to talk to, and that she’s a sought-out companion. While this isn’t something we planned for, it’s a relief to know that if it continues she will have fewer social hurdles to surmount.
I realize I’m latching on to these things to convince myself that there’s nothing wrong even though she absolutely refuses to have anything to do with the potty or pedaling a bike or trike**. While I can ignore the latter (she seems coordinated enough, see somersaults) the former has both Debra and I worried. She’ll be four at the end of June and it isn’t as though she’s just having accidents. She absolutely, positively, will not sit on the potty. When she wears underwear and wets it she seems to have no idea it has happened or, if she does, doesn’t care that she’s sopping.
She tells us she’ll use the potty when she’s four. I don’t believe her. I don’t know what else to do but I don’t believe her. It’s so frustrating, especially in light of the rest of her life. I can’t make her do it. I can only assume that she will, eventually. How can she be so smart (She adds. She subtracts. She is starting to read and write.) and so physically capable (she can hop on a swing alone and pump as high as much bigger kids) and not be able to figure out potty training?
Anyway, I say all that to bottle it up – the amazing and the baffling. She is a joy. She does make us laugh. She is smart and thoughtful. We are incredibly, absolutely, amazingly fortunate.
*We use a rain barrel for watering the front gardens.
**We even borrowed a balance bike which she tried twice and then abandoned.