Today is the last day of your summer vacation. You have been settling for the company of Mom and Dad since Friday, August 24th, and you've had a pretty good attitude about it, even though our snacks are definitely not as good as the ones you get at school. Don't worry, sun butter is going to be back on the menu soon.
When the doors of your day care open tomorrow (and make no mistake, we will be there waiting when they do), you will be a big kid. Like actually, you will be in the classroom with the biggest kids in the school. You will be one of the littler ones, but you are so ready for that class.
Your friends and teachers all talk about how fast you are growing up, and I know I am supposed to feel like it's too fast, and there's an expectation that I will express some sort of regret that your babyhood can't last longer. When I say you're not a baby anymore, I try very hard to make it clear that I am so, so happy you are not a baby anymore. I think that change really happened in this last year. The doctor told me that the second year - from the first to the second birthday - was the year that would bring the biggest, most monumental changes. When you turned one, you had a handful of words, but only your teachers understood them. You were crawling, and your first two teeth had just barely broken through. When you turned two, you knew your friends' names, you talked in full sentences, you ran and you climbed.
As you turn three, I note that you look older and sharper. On your second birthday, we couldn't believe how much you had grown since the one-year-old photos. The physical difference this year isn't nearly as striking, and I sort of see the doctor's point about the biggest changes happening in the second year. This third year, though, has brought relatability to you. I can relate to you, and you can actually relate to me. You sense the feelings of others in a way you can express verbally. When you play, you narrate what you are doing, with all the intonations and inflections that you have so carefully studied from others around you. Sayings like "coming right up!" and "I need to keep you safe!" and "Let's do that!" are a part of your everyday lexicon. You come to the dinner table (on some nights!) and grin and exclaim, "I love my family!" You say these things aware of the context and the meaning, and you love it when the people around you respond in a way that makes it clear that they are right there with you.
So, as I was saying, today was the last day of your summer vacation. When I came downstairs and asked if you wanted to go to the beach, your face split into a huge smile and you jumped up and got in gear. You pranced around the living room yelling "beach time! beach time! beach!" except it was in sort of a monster-type raspy voice. You put on your bathing suit and your shoes and your sunscreen and you gathered up all your things. You spent two hours splashing in the water and playing with sand and rocks, and then you and I went for an early lunch at a bakery before going home for nap. As I walked away for a moment to get napkins and butter and jelly for your toast (which you saved for last, even though I know you wanted it more than any of the other things on your plate) I watched you over my shoulder sitting at this little table in a little chair, smoothing out your lovey on the tabletop. No high chair, no restraints. You waited patiently for your plate to come, and when it did, you shared your bacon and eggs with me.
You are a big kid, and I respect you. I know I don't always show it perfectly - you probably feel like I am ordering you around a lot some days, and you definitely resent my too-frequent reminders to try the potty - but I do. I love being with you because it means that you let me into your inner life. I devour your breathless story-monologues that pivot effortlessly from collecting rocks to washing the dishes to going through airport security. I won't always get this kind of access what's going on in your head, and maybe then I will feel the sadness that everyone talks about at seeing you shed the younger versions of yourself. Today, I am glad you're a big kid and I wish you the best of luck at school. Please keep taking naps.