It’s hard to believe that on Saturday my little Zoë turned three. For weeks, whenever someone asked her how old she was, she smiled that huge Zoë smile and held up three fingers. And now it’s official—my baby is not a baby anymore.
On Friday we took cupcakes to her preschool and her friends gathered in a circle to celebrate each year of her life. Z was feeling a little shy, so she didn’t walk around the candle, which represents the journey of the earth around the sun. And she tucked her head into my lap when one after another of her friends raised their hands to offer their wishes for her birthday: “I hope you get good presents.” “I wish for you a good birthday.” And my favorite: “I hope your cupcakes taste good.” But after each friend expressed his/her wish, she quickly lifted her head and said a quiet thank you.
On Saturday morning, Stella and I went to return Zoë’s presents (a frilly pink dress with a tulle skirt and sparkly pink shoes) because Zoë said she didn’t like them. “I want an American Girl Doll,” she said. Fair enough, we said, so Stella and I headed off to the store to make our returns and pick out Zoë’s doll. (Note: we buy the affordable Target version of AGD rather than the real AGD.)
After Stella deliberated and deliberated about the perfect doll for Zoë, she settled on Jenny with her long blond hair, and then decided we should have party bags with candy for the kids who would be at Zoë’s party. The candy bags turned into bags with party blowers and rubber lizards and little parachute men who turned out to be quite difficult to assemble. (I know, I know.)
Zoë ended up loving her doll (whose hair is already a tangled mess that Stella has had to brush through three times). And she had a wonderful time at her party, up and down the stairs with her friends and cousins.
When she fell into an exhausted sleep that night, I stared down at her (before also falling into an exhausted sleep) and took her in: her tangled red hair, which she insists on brushing herself even though she can’t actually reach the majority of the tangles; her still toddler-chubby body, which is often without clothes, running around the house, jumping from the couch; her round face, which, when she is awake is almost always lit with a smile.
I love the way Zoë still sometimes says “shoppy cup” for “coffee shop.” (“Mom, I’m going to the shoppy cup to work.”) I love the way she picks out her clothes every day, insisting on all stripes (of varying sizes, colors and direction), a tulle skirt, and her patent leather white “dance” shoes that she inherited from Stella. (She’s the only kid I know sporting white patent leather in the middle of a Minnesota winter.) I love that she and Stella have memorized the lyrics to “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music and that they perform it daily for anyone who happens to stop by our house. (The performance includes Zoë being Gretel, pretending to be asleep on the stairs at the end of the song. Stella drags her up the stairs, waving and singing a high-pitched, drawn out, “Goooooood-byyyyyeeee.”) I love how in the morning, she wakes up (inevitably between me and D) and reaches her arms out to encircle our necks. “Let’s snuggle,” she says. Or, if Stella is up first and wants someone to go downstairs with her, Zoë jumps out of our bed and says, “I go with you, Stella!” (Happy, always, to be her big sister’s side-kick.)
As part of the Friday’s circle of life celebration at her preschool, I read a little bit about each year that Zoë has been alive, and then I got to say what our hopes are for her future. This is what I read aloud to her and her classmates: “We hope that Zoë will continue to be a healthy, happy girl, bursting with life and laughter. We hope that she will always wear her joy openly, sharing her smiles with everyone she encounters. We love you Zoë.”
Happy Birthday, three-year-old! We love you!