Where were you five years ago? We were at the hospital, greeting daughter #3 into the world. Man, has it gone by fast.

L. has always seemed older than she is, and when we’re reminded of her actual age it’s always a surprise. Recently, as I’ve been thinking about her birthday, I always have to pause for a second and think, “Wait, she’s just now turning five?”

That’s what spending your life chasing after two bigger sisters will do. From day one she’s watched them, processed it all, and when she’s felt the urge, she’s jumped right into whatever they’ve been doing. Every so often she’ll push too far, realize it, and get scared, running to us for safety with tears in her eyes. But that’s always been the exception. Most often she sees no reason not to be doing exactly what M. and C. are doing.

Like everything else, she talked early. And while she’s not quite in M.’s league when it comes to volume of words, she doesn’t have many quiet moments, either. Once she gets comfortable around someone, she has no qualms about chatting them up. I always think of when she was approaching two and I saw our neighbor standing in her backyard, leaning down. After a moment she began laughing, and I wondered what was cracking her up. I peeked around the corner and saw L. there, holding court on some topic or another.

One reminder of her true age is how she talks. She has trouble with and R’s and W’s. She builds “fowts” in the basement. Her friend Maggie is “showt”. Something that is difficult to do is “hawd”. She has favorite, or rather “favowite”, “showts” she wears whenever they are clean. And so on. It’s super cute and makes us laugh, and when we repeat the words back to her, she gets indignant. “Dad, I down’t tawk that way!” Which makes us laugh harder. Remember these moments when she has to go to therapy.

But she also busts out big words all the time. Yesterday, when C. had a friend over while M. was at soccer practice, L. found me and complained, “C. is excluding me!” Well ok then.

As I’ve documented plenty of times, L. is our, self-proclaimed, Tom Boy. She asked for Spider Man web shooters, and Ninja Turtle and Power Rangers stuff. At a friend’s birthday party two weeks ago, nothing made her happier than running around in a Wolverine mask. Every now and then we can get her to wear a skirt or dress to school, but she much prefers either baggy shorts or jeans and a t-shirt. We have had some pretty intense wrestling matches lately, and she’s developed some wicked moves to pin me. I’ve never wished for a son, always completely content with how the chromosomes worked themselves out at conception. But of the three sisters, she’s definitely my little buddy.

As the youngest, her getting older has a different poignancy to it. Where M. is always pushing our family out to the next step, L. is closing the door on things that have been routine since M. was little.1
At each step we’ve been thrilled to give up diapers and bottles, pull-ups and nap times. But I must say, I’ve loved the 3-4 age range, when kids’ minds are expanding and they’re constantly learning something new but they also require you to be with them through these experiences. There are moments of frustration and annoyance, but those are far out-weighed by the moments of delight. Not that she, and her sisters, won’t still be delightful. But along with giving up the neediness of the toddler/preschool years, we’re also giving up a measure of closeness with them. Snuggling will happen less and less. They’ll want us to watch them do things, rather than join with them. And so on. I must admit I’m already missing some of that stuff.

But enough of that. L. is five today. Showing how she’s her own girl, she requested Chinese food for dinner. We have cake and ice cream lined up. And she’s got some pretty cool presents coming her way. I just hope we don’t end up regretting the web shooters…

  1. C., as the middle kid, keeps us grounded, the center around which M. and L.’s changes rotate.