As I’m writing this, you are cozied up next to me in my bed. You’re upside-down, your bum in the air and your head on the comforter. I’ve just warned you that we’re only watching this Barbie movie (which you’ve seen one million times) for five more minutes because we have a new book to read, but in true Cricket Shove fashion, you’ve negotiated your way into 15 more minutes. I pity the litigator that goes against you in court one day; she has no idea who she’s up against because, MAN, you have a negotiating nature like no other. You wear me down on a daily basis! (And, for the record, you love Barbie, but are confused because — and I quote — “Ken doesn’t have a penis.” #dying)
Speaking of memorable things you say, there is no shortage of Cricket quotes in our house! You say “lime-en-ade” instead of limeade, draw out frustrated to “frust-er-ated,” and misname nostrils as “nozzles.” You throw around phrases like “in any event” and “no matter” and “I was thinking…” which all sound hilarious in your sassy, high-pitched voice. You’re famous for saying, “I’m the boss of my body” and talking about toots and poop more often than a lady should, haha! Each day I just can’t wait to hear what’s going to come out of that creative little mouth. Your teachers are always impressed with your vocabulary. When they ask me what we’ve done to give you such a head-start verbally, I just tell them that we’ve always spoken to you with proper words, which is something YiaYia was very passionate about and taught me as a mother. (It also helps that you have a photographic memory and are crazy smart!) Plus, we love to read together as a family. We’ve read the entire “Ivy and Bean” series through almost twice, and you eat up every word. You have committed “Pinkalicious” to memory and are eager to be able to read yourself. You’ll sit with a book and gather us around you, making up stories about the pictures as you turn the pages. Since E.V. is learning to read, you can imitate that just-barely-beginning-to-read cadence of sounding things out perfectly. You even ask E.V. to whisper the real sentences in your ear sometimes so that you can pass the ability off as your own, and we play along. It’s adorable. You’re adorable.
In every area of life, you are on a stage. You create narratives to surround yourself with magic. Your teacher laughs because you weave stories about your own lunch and drag the other children into your world: The Goldfish crackers become real fish; the yogurt a pond for them to swim in; the cheese sticks logs to make a dam. Your imagination astounds me everyday, little one. You want desperately to be the star, so you love ballet and singing and dancing and gymnastics. You imagine yourself to be an undiscovered princess. You have two alter-egos, “Baby Starlight” and “Lala” and love to pretend to be someone else. You love to paint and to draw; you are always creating something. If you don’t end up being a kick-ass lawyer or famous actress, I could totally see you being an artist (with some wild, out-of-the-box media and subject matter of course). I could also see you working in fashion, because you definitely have strong and self-defined opinions on style. I’ve given up all hope of your wearing anything I pick out because you always have an idea of what would look best. (You even like to tell me whether or not what I’M wearing looks good or not.) You like to strut around in heels and fancy dresses and ask, “Do I look fashion?” which cracks me up. You have this hilarious idea lately that jumping into your clothes (literally) makes the outfit more awesome, so you’re always forcing me to hold up your underwear as you hop off the bed a dozen times trying to land your feet into the foot holes perfectly. (Gah, you are a wonderful but exhausting child!) I mean, for heaven’s sake, your favorite color is pink, but whenever you’re asked, you respond, “Rainbow!” Could you be anymore YOU? :)
Your emotions are just as big as your imagination, and you feel everything to the nth degree. You are a passionate and devoted friend (sometimes to the point of smothering, haha). You hate being alone and thrive when surrounded by lots of people. You have a core group of friends in school and in life that bring you so much joy, but you are so open and vulnerable with people that you get hurt easily. (Especially when Emma Vance rejects you because you LOVE her beyond words and are slightly obsessed with her in typical little sister fashion.) And those lows are LOW. You are no stranger to tears, to squeals of joy, or to stink faces. You wear your heart and your feelings on your face, and I NEVER have to guess how you’re feeling. (Mostly because those facial expressions are usually accompanied by a long monologue explaining exactly what you’re thinking and why.) I like to say that it’s your world and we’re just living in it, which is how I feel 99% of the time!
I pray so much over you each night, but I always specifically ask for God to even out your temperament, for Him to use your passionate nature, and for Him to show me how to be a good mom to you. Your vast imagination and fearless view of life are amazing, but they do get you into trouble quite often. It’s exhausting to be in this stage of motherhood, to be frank, because I feel like all I do is clean up after kids and take care of kids and make kids happy. So when I pause and think about how MUCH of the mess and concern and mood-soothing is actually just my dealing with YOU, I have to laugh. Seriously, you are the singular source of most of the messes around here. I refer to you my “Toddler Tornado” because you are always pulling out a ton of toys or clothes or whatever you can find and making the world’s biggest mess! It’s not unusual to find you covered in my makeup, my bathroom in bubbles, the kitchen in paint, or the playroom in baking soda. In fact, you even COLORED your friends’ blonde hair RED with my lipgloss the other day. (Yikes!) And your excuse was, “But they liked the way it looked!” How am I supposed to NOT laugh at that? ;)
You have a big heart like I mentioned, but it’s not limited just to friendship. You have your heart and your eyes set on a boy in your preschool class, Colton. (It doesn’t help that you’re also obsessed with getting married in general and being a bride, i.e. The Center of Attention in a Big Beautiful Dress.) The crush started earlier in the year, but it’s grown beyond a crush into full-on love. You talk about marrying him with total confidence (You go girl!), and not just to me — to anyone who will listen. When Daddy and I went to your Birthday Blessing at school a few weeks ago, you even KISSED him in the chapel in front of everyone — your teachers, your classmates, your parents, his parents. (It was super cute, though the poor boy might be scarred now!) It’s funny, though, because you also fear growing up. It so strange! You ask me all the time if you can have a baby but not be a grown up. Oh, sweet child! No one wants to get old, but you are going to make an amazing woman, wife and mom.
You are also obsessed with us, your family. We laugh at your two Cricket-coined phrases: “Group hug!” and “Family snuggle!” Those words come out of your mouth at least a dozen times a day, and your favorite place is in bed with Daddy, E.V., Oscar and me, all cuddled up and cozy. Daddy and I always laugh because your favorite way to fall asleep is in the middle of us with your arms around both our necks, drawing our three faces as close together as possible. You have no concept of personal space, that’s for sure!
Papadon loves you with all his heart. He is unabashed in claiming you as his favorite family member of all time, partly because you both have the same birthmark on your sides, partly because you are the light in his world since YiaYia passed away. You always have some sassy or ridiculous comment to entertain him, and you are a great source of joy for him. The two of you have a plan to watch as many scary movies together as possible (although your idea of scary and his don’t quite add up) and to go to Frightfest and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter together. (Hopefully I’m invited!) You also are very frank with him about how dirty he is (truth) and how he “needs to take a bath.” He also has you convinced that he lives with bed bugs (mostly because you keep asking to spend the night at his house, so he made up the bed bugs story to deter you, and it’s working…kind of). You throw tea parties for him with “sugar cubes” (water + honey in popsicle molds), and he, in turn, brings you more treats than any one child should have in a lifetime. (By the way, your tastebuds amaze me: You are fearless when it comes to trying new foods, and your pallet is very sophisticated for your age—veggies, fish, and salmon salad; and you also have a very weird pallet—Cheerios with orange juice, acai juice plain, goldfish in vanilla yogurt. Yuck.) Watching you and Papadon together warms my heart and reminds me of my early childhood with his ridiculousness!
Cricket, you are uniquely you, full of your own ideas and challenges. You won’t be moved when you set your mind to something, and I can’t wait to see who you grow into over the coming years. Although I don’t know every detail in your future, I do know that you will be a strong, outspoken, creative, passionate person…because that is who you have already shown yourself to be. I love being your mom and your friend. Every day is an adventure with you, and I love being invited into your world. Your imagination is full of life and brings everyone around you so much joy. You are my world. I love you beyond measure, beyond anything you can ever begin to imagine.
Happy fourth birthday, Crickie.
Mommy (and Daddy and E.V.)
P.S. Did I mention your current obsession with L.O.L. Dolls? Yeesh.