Everyone who knows this child agrees that she is not easily intimidated: by adults, peers, boundaries, rules, new flavors, new experiences or unlearned lessons. If there is any challenge to be had, she heads straight for it; given 2 options, she picks a third; expected to say yes, she will say no, but when you want her to say no, yes is the first word out of her mouth. She is probably the most challenging 2-year old we have parented so far.
When describing Arden, we say that she is very much like a cat: she manages to squeeze into the most obscure spot on the couch, pull her blankets and pillows all around her, pop her thumb in her mouth, twirl her hair with her free hand, and become completely relaxed. Usually she is the child wedged closest to us, but if we lather her with too much affection she leaves. She wants attention, but on her terms. I often ponder how to best handle her obstinance and tantrums. Are they simply her will rising or are they indicators of unmet needs? Each day seems to be a new experiment as we try new ways to reach her little heart.
I absolutely adore this little girl. All of her put together is quite mesmerizing, from the way her mouth puckers when she talks, to her little voice and adorable pronunication of certain words, to her half-head nod when she affirms what she wants to her infamous hair twirl and thumbsuck, to her iconic mismatched outfits and flipflopped shoes to her surprise stashes of household goods in her bright orange backpack. It is not unusual for me to blink an extra time as I look at her and realize she is my little girl. I become all too consumed in the mothering of this child that I lose touch with getting to know her as an individual person. She was once my infant in arms; she was once learning to walk; she was once babbing her first words. In just three short years, she moved across the country, became a big sister TWICE, was potty-trained, learned the A-B-C song, and recognizes the letter, A, just to highlight a few of the important happenings in her young life. And it all happened in such a short time.
As Arden begins a brand new year, I want her to keep dancing when she hears music. I want her to keep hopping instead of walking from point A to point B. I want her to keep giving the tightest hugs. I want her to keep wanting to snuggle with me at nap time. I want her to keep sucking her thumb and twirling her hair and stuffing her bright orange backpack with unexpected items. I want her to have to her own style and to think her own thoughts. And somehow I want to show her heart that obedience is a good thing, that there is joy and freedom found in boundaries, and that there is a proper time to say no. I think that this third child of ours has shown me more than anybody that there is no such thing as a parenting formula. Every day truly is a new parenting experience and the only way to parent well is to be in constant communication with Jesus and Jared. I rest in the knowledge that Jesus chose to gift us with the firecracker of a little girl and I KNOW He knows what He is doing.
The happiest of third birthdays to our one and only, Fervent Melody of Joy. May Jesus be the keeper of your heart and soul from today into eternity.