When Your Angel Baby Becomes a Three-Year-Old




     Recently I was rummaging around in our attic, going through the photos and memorabilia we’d accumulated over a lifetime. I found the following story – which I’d written many years ago, when Bailey was just a tyke. My little girl is twenty-six now, and we could have never imagined what an incredible woman she’d turn out to be. But what a magical time that was when our angel baby ruled our world!  

      Lately, our darling little offspring, the sweet, innocent girl-babe that we had bragged about to our friends ad nauseam, is going through “the change.” Once upon a time she was a quiet and gentle soul with a cooperative nature and an endless array of smiles. Even her sleep habits made Rip Van Winkle’s mom envious.

But lately I detected hair growing on her ears and the last tooth that came in was a fang.  Now instead of sleeping she roams the town at midnight.

Our baby just turned three.

Ah, was it so long ago that I could whisk her anywhere without her demanding to put on her own clothes…inside out and backwards?   Or that she would sleep peacefully in her infant carrier when we went out to eat, instead of ravaging the restaurant like Hurricane Andrew?  She used to set her eyes on ours and sweetly coo, “Mamamama” and “Dawd-Dee.”   Now her favorite word is a shrill, no-nonsense “MIIIINE!”

But what did I think would happen?  That we’d live in the blissful arms of sweet babyhood forever?  Well, hello reality.  That was nature’s way of sucking you in! Now the real fun begins!

My baby’s gone, and in her place is an eccentric elfin with a Vincent Price laugh. She’s as tactile as a giant squid with ten-foot arms and she has laser-beam eyes that zoom in on the most minute objects.  Our darling sees all, knows all and can get all.  She should be a spy for the government.

And smart?  Authorities say humans reach their peak intellectual processing speed at eighteen. But I beg to differ. A three-year-old has a brand new brain with nothing better to do. Problem is, their ultimate purpose is to get your goat.  And she gets it every time.

Simply put, don’t expect to accomplish anything constructive from now until they hit twenty-six.  Make dinner?  Write a letter?  Have a life?  A toddler’s goal is to see those things don’t get done.  That’s why it’s so frightening when the house is deathly quiet.  You can bet they’re in their bedroom at the drawing board, plotting a really elaborate scheme.

The food-throwing I can handle, even when she gives herself three points for making the banana stick on the wall.  And I can take her rewiring the stereo system, as long as the thing still works.  But what really gets me is when our little treasure slaps her baby doll in public, shouting, “Take this! And that!” Honest, I don’t know where she got that.

So I’m wondering, what ever happened to our tiny angel?  I guess Dr. Jekyll has completed the transformation to Mr. Hyde.

Yet I can’t deny that life is more challenging, fun, and infinitely more interesting than ever before, and that now is when being a mom demands understanding, wits and the ability to count very slowly when all your blood vessels are about to explode.  The strange thing is, I love that little barbarian more and more every second.  And now that I’ve learned the concept of “positive discipline” (read BRIBE), well, we’re both learning how to make it through this stage.

Besides, you can’t beat it when the little monkey puckers up her spaghetti-coated lips in the middle of dinner and wants to give you a kiss.  Or when you’re in the library and out of the blue she grabs the seat of your pants and yells for everyone to hear, “Cute butt, Mom!”

These are the precious memories I’ll always treasure…as long as I survive them!