miss personality

The Button is just two months shy of turning three years old, and while she continues to be, shall we say, on the small side [or as her physician mother and her physician calabash uncles and aunts say, "she's on her own curve"] and I still get asked by parents at the bookstore or kiddie gym when she’s turning two, she is, without a doubt, basically a three-year-old, with a three-year-old’s personality filtered through the unique stylings of the one and only Button.

It’s hard not to compare a little sibling to the big sibling who blazed the developmental path first, especially when that big sibling was your first experience with parenting and thus your baseline. Where The Pumpkin as a toddler would go boneless in protest, The Button plants her whole gravitational force down into the earth with her feet (and sometimes, her whole body). Where The Pumpkin’s would (and still today) result in tears and slammed doors and retreat to privacy, The Button, as is her wont, invites public spectacle, crying and flailing on the floor in full view of whoever may be around. Though older and younger sister alike are apt to react badly most often to frustration—not getting what one wants, not being able to do or achieve or perform something—where The Pumpkin gets sad, The Button gets mad.

Her language skills, happily, have improved along with her emotional flowering, and so we are gifted with both joyous shouts of “I did it!” (accompanied by little high-pitched woots of accomplishment) along with don’t-mess-with-me pronouncements of “I can do it myself!” and, of course, frustrated shouts of “I can’t do it!” followed by loud, persistent, inconsolable crying jags.

Other notable quotables:

“I’m scared of Fluffy!” Said when the door to the breezeway is opened for us to go out or for him to come in, even if he’s not in sight, or when he’s seen through a pane of glass doing nothing more threatening than looking at her.

“Look at him!” Accompanied by a pointing finger to make sure we all see what funny thing (like sitting) Fluffy may be doing at that moment (when he’s not scaring her, that is).

“I’m not kidding!” This, I think, was gleaned from some kids’ t.v. show or another, and is always done with crossed arms, and usually out of, or without any, context.

“Right now!” This is today’s favorite, demanding attention or help putting on three layers of dress-up costumes at once or a lollipop that has already been refused her. It’s loud, angry, and has got plenty of guttural growl to it.

And all of these, of course, are said as if there is a period stop after each word, slow and deliberate, with the vowels and consonants and phonemes getting clearing and more distinct every day. It’s amazing to behold—when it’s not, you know, driving you crazy.

But then that’s the other thing about our tiny Button. It’s so easy to see and hear her erupt and still, at least when the tantrum’s only on its first iteration, look at her tiny impish face and listen to her little baby voice and go, “Aw, how cute!” It’s a tricky emotional juggling act, figuring out if you’re more concerned, frustrated, mad, or just amused at the poor little thing’s disproporational meltdowns.

La dra. remarked this evening, after a particularly heated bout of “Right. Now!”s (sorry sweetie, no more candy), that the L&D nurse at our discharge almost three years ago said that she could tell that this one knew what she wanted.

Yep. She knows what she wants, and when she wants it, and she’s not afraid to tell you, either.

 

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About Jason Sperber

Jason Sperber is a stay-at-home-dad of 2 daughters and a writer in Bakersfield, California. He blogs (very infrequently) at daddy in a strange land and co-founded Rice Daddies, the group blog by Asian American dads, and is the resident hapa Trekkie at The Nerds Of Color. Follow him on Twitter at @dad_strangeland.
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