Winters are hard for me. I think that’s probably the case for most stay-at-home parents. You run out of things to do to entertain the kids. They get sick of being stuck inside around each other, and you, constantly. The longer the winter stretches, the more tension builds. I’ll admit that each year, when we get to late February/early March, I’m pretty much ready for them to leave for a month or so and let me recharge.

That should partially explain the lack of kid updates here. I’m annoyed/exasperated with them so much that the funny/interesting things they do are easily forgotten. I’ve barely used the camera for the last four months, too.

Hopefully, with warmer weather finally seeming to be here for good, we’ll all get distracted from each other, moods will improve, and we’ll have more stories and pics to share soon.

C. has been struggling with rules lately. I don’t know if it’s attention craving behavior, classic pushing the boundaries behavior, or if she’s just being difficult for the hell of it, but each day we go through a series of exchanges where she is punished for doing things she knows are not allowed.

One particular temptation for her is products like Chapstick, Vaseline, and A&D ointment. Something about those petroleum based products draws her to them and gets her into trouble. After months of finding our Chapsticks mangled, her face and clothes smeared in oils, stains on walls and furniture, and even (bizarrely) a tube of A&D ointment cut in half, she was banned from using any of those items without direct supervision.

She cracked quickly and often, of course.

Last week she and L. were playing in their clubhouse under our dining room table. I walked by and smelled something. I stopped and sniffed.

“C., what is that smell?”

She jumped out quickly and said, “I don’t know.”

She has a way of looking around and hopping nervously when she’s hiding something. She was doing exactly that while she tried to keep a poker face.

“I smell something, I’m not sure what it is. I hope you didn’t make a mess somewhere.”

“I didn’t, Dad.”

I started to walk to the kitchen and noticed a gleam on her lips.

“C., have you been in the Chapstick?”

“No!” she insisted.

“C., I see it on your face. You know you’re not supposed to be in it. I better not find it on any clothes or furniture.”

“OK, Dad.”

I went into the kitchen to put some dishes away. A few minutes later L. came running into the room and jumped on me, grabbing my leg and hugging it. All she had on was a diaper.

I reached down to hug her and when I wrapped my arms around her, my hands stuck to her back.

What the hell?

Her back was covered in Chapstick or Vaseline or one of C.’s other favorite products.

“C.!!! I know you did this! L. can’t reach her back!”

I couldn’t get too mad, because it was pretty funny. C. did go into timeout, but got off relatively easy.

C. has a new trick that does crack me up each time she does it. In one of her movies, I think Tangled, one character does the “I’m watching you” move where they point at their eyes, then at the person they’re watching. One day I caught C. making that motion at L.. When I asked her what she was doing, she began giggling and then aimed her fingers at me. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen her do. Now I can look at her and say, “C., I have my eyes on you,” and she busts it out at me.

I hate to jinx it, but L.’s terrible 2’s have been less terrible than her sisters’ were. Of course, she’s only two-and-a-half, so there’s plenty of time for things to get worse. But, all things considered, she’s not awful. Sure, there are plenty of “NO!”s in response to parental direction, the occasional fit, screaming and fights with her sisters when they take something she wants. But nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

She makes up for those moments of age-typical behavior with lots of sweetness. She’s the most polite kid in the world. Hand her anything and she’ll thank you for it. Sometimes she’ll just walk up to you, give you a hug, and say “Dank you, Daddy!” And she loves the hugs and kisses.

In what I understand to be typical Kid #3 behavior, she’s all about performing and talking. She dances around and says, “Look at me!” If she does something and her sisters laugh, she keeps doing it. She has a good sense of what is silly and entertaining and does all she can to get an audience. She never stops talking 1 and once she is comfortable with someone, will talk their ear off. I’ve caught her telling long stories to one neighbor. Another neighbor saw her playing with his kids and she proceeded to stop playing and start telling him all about it. When he walked by where I was sitting, he said, “She’s a talker, isn’t she?”

Potty training is the next hill for L. to climb. She’s been using the toilet before bed each night, but we haven’t pushed it during the day yet. Now that it appears to be warm for good, and we can let her run around without a diaper for stretches, we’ll probably start scheduling more regular potty time for her.

Each girl has their mood swings and moments, but to me M. is the most pronounced in those moods. C. has multiple fits each day, in which she reacts emotionally to something she doesn’t like. L. has to have a two-year-old moment a few times a day. But M. is like two different kids depending on who is around her.

If you get her alone, she is calm, funny, engaging, and very smart. Honestly, some of the conversations we have when no one else is around weird me out a little because they are almost grown-up in the give-and-take. I’m not just answering her questions anymore. Now she can drive the conversation, she can make observations and connections between things.

But when her sisters are around, she’s bossy, whiney, needy. You can tell she wants to dominate them, both in terms of being the one who determines what they play and in that she wants more attention from adults than they get.

It’s maddening, because she does seem like two completely different kids.

C.’s our quiet one, and the only time she shuts up is when she’s doing something she knows will get her into trouble. M. can talk for 20 minutes without taking a breath or using any punctuation. L. hangs right there with her. When all three get going, it’s best just to leave the room. ↩