Ben is three. He’s such a joyful little guy; when something tickles his funny bone, he’ll laugh about it for days. My parents gave him a book for Christmas in which the characters take some “razzleberry, dazzleberry, snazzleberry fizz” on a picnic. He thinks this is soooo funny, but he can’t ever remember how it goes. So he keeps coming up to me and Riya, begging us to say it again. “Mom, mom! Say me the ‘razzleberry’ thing!”
Just about every day, he tells me a new story, and they always start, “Mom! Hear this funny thing….”
Ben’s generally very comfortable in his own skin. If he gets to pick, he’d usually rather read a story about trucks or trains, or play with his tool set or race track. But if Riya and Karina are playing dolls or reading princess stories, he joins in with gusto. He tells me he doesn’t want me to leave him at school, but he always has good things to say when I pick him up. And he puts his arms around my neck, squeezes as tightly as he can, and says “I like you, mom!”
Karina is, of course, also three. She likes to tell stories, too, but I never get to hear them! She seems to always decide to tell them in the car, and she speaks with such a quiet, sweet little voice that I can never understand a word.
Karina loves to dress up. Princess dresses, old leotards, fairy wings — she would wear them all the time, if she could. She fits right in with a bunch of the other little girls at school. The teacher says when they have free choice time, the group of them head straight for the play kitchen, grab some clothes and babies (Karina calls them “hons”), and set up camp.
The first impression a lot of people get of Karina is that she’s quite a shy little girl. It’s true, in a way – she still likes to hang out with me until she’s got a handle on a new group or place. She almost always joins in eventually, though, if she’s not pushed. And she stands up for herself in a group, too, when something is important to her — I’m always really glad to see that.
“I want you, Mom,” is Karina’s go-to phrase. It’s usually spoken while she’s already clinging to my knees, so I’m not quite sure how to respond. It’s nice, anyway.
Riya’s 5 1/2. She’s a born leader; it’s been tough for her that Ben and Karina aren’t as interested in being led anymore. It’s hard being the big sister — she has some responsibilities the others don’t have, but she’s not allowed to boss them around (too much).
There are consolations, though. She can have gum, and they can’t. There are books in the house she can read on her own. She only occasionally has to nap. She dances and does gymnastics, and understands a lot of what the grownups are saying. (Although I have to admit that Ben and Karina generally don’t care…)
Yesterday, Riya told me that she is always, always going to live here with us. “I love you so much, and you would miss me if I moved away. So I’ll stay here forever,” she said. It was really tempting to say “ok” and leave it at that, but I told her that even though I would miss her, if she ever changed her mind, I’d understand.
I’m a lucky, lucky mom.