Folks, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: three was a very tough year. I have no idea why they say “terrible twos” because every joke you’ve ever heard about “threenagers” is true. Worse, maybe. I joked for a while that I was holding out for four. Hoping that we’d just wake up on the 12th and suddenly have a pleasant child again.
I wouldn’t say that’s exactly what happened, however we did have a really awesome birthday with Luella. On Sunday she had her long-anticipated Lego party. We may have gone a little over the top on the costumes and themed food. That’s kind of my thing.
Luella had asked to invite some preschool friends this year, and it was nice getting to know them and their families outside the brief “hello”s at pick-up and drop-off.
Her proper birthday was on Tuesday though, and Jim took the day off work – a tradition he reckons he’d like to do with the kids every year. We let her have leftover birthday cake for breakfast and then surprised Lu with an impromptu trip to Wollongong to visit the University of Wollongong Early Start Discovery Space. I’d heard about it a while back – a great new hands-on children’s museum – and it exceeded expectations.
We stayed right up until closing and Lu was still having a blast. The activities were all really open-ended and imaginative, there were art workshops throughout the day, a beautiful outdoor garden/natural playground, and even some great baby play areas for Niko. It’s only an hour drive from Sydney so we ended up buying a membership, figuring it’s great for those rainy “what do we do?” weekends.
My favourite part of the day though – as we were eating lunch at the outdoor cafe (lovely and a couple of easily modified vegan menu options) Luella suddenly stood up on the bench and announced, “Everybody, I have to tell you something! I just want to tell you this is my best birthday ever and I’m so happy I get to eat lunch with my whole family.”
This proud mama might have shed a tear or two.
After the museum we had sushi for dinner in Newtown and of course, ice cream at Gelato Blue. It was probably one of my favourite days we’ve had together as a family.
So, while I imagine there are still plenty of challenges to come, so far 4 is off to a pretty good start. We’ve seen so much growth in Luella this year. In addition to being an increasingly responsible big sister, watching her grow socially has been huge. On Tuesday I sat back watching her initiate conversations with other kids at the sandpit, confidently asserting herself. It’s quite the change from the little girl who buried her face when confronted with groups of kids a year ago.
She’s still smart as a whip with an ever-growing vocabulary, imagination and sensitivity. I’ve also noticed her problem-solving skills blossom this year. You’ll frequently hear her shout “I know!” and rattle off a solution to a challenge in a split second.
I’m looking forward to watching her take on the world even more this year.