Today my little girl Ruthie is three years old.

Ruthie makes me laugh harder than anyone I know. You know when people say that a person is “a joy”? That’s what Ruthie is. A joy.

One of my professors in grad school used to say that the reason there isn’t a lot of great writing about parenting out there is that so many parents just love their kids too much. We can’t write about them without going on and on about how wonderful they are. Readers aren’t all that enthralled by the work of authors who are happily parenting their cool little kids.

I can see what she was saying. I could fill a hundred blogs with posts that start, “Let me tell you why Ruthie is so awesome…” and end with, “See! I told you so!”

I could write down all of the incredible things about her–all the reasons I love her so much–but how do I limit it to just a post or a journal entry? If I start, I might as well go on forever.

I won’t go on forever, I promise. Instead, I will attempt to describe my three-year-old little girl in one short paragraph. Here goes:

Ruthie thinks everything in the world is alive, and she might be right. Her eyes often go wide with wonder or surprise. She loves television and books equally, and with diversity. Diego, Phineas & Ferb, My Little Pony, Shaun the Sheep, The Iron Giant. Mo Willems books, “princess stories,” her beautifully illustrated children’s Bible. When she doesn’t want to sleep at night, she stays up late in the darkness of her room, reading the books aloud to herself whether or not she knows the words. She is always creating, creating, creating. She glues pom poms onto cardboard and sculpts Bubber into faces. She draws bugs with colored pencils and “angry faces” with markers. She survives on a diet of Cinnamon Life, chicken tenders, peas, french fries, rice, ketchup, and stories about a butterfly named Benji. Sometimes she wakes in the night and cries for donuts or apples. She’s been out of diapers for a year, and her little rear end fits so cutely into her tiny little underpants. She wears the smallest size they make. When I let her go to to her room to dress herself, she usually comes back in five or six pairs of underwear, laughing like she just told the best joke of her life. She loves her teachers, grandparents, cousins, and friends. She calls Chalupa her cuddlebug but then warns him, “If you hug me too tight, I might poop.” She hates the idea of baths, but then I hear her squealing and shrieking with joy while she and Chalupa play with her rubber duckies. She says things that surprise us, like when she takes on our use of the word “fatuous” or tells me that the reason I have a headache is that I ate too much Mexican food. Two nights ago she found a spider in the dining room of Grandpa Joe’s nursing home, and she ran to me, asking, “Mommy! What is that spider doing in here? Spiders live OUTSIDE? What is that one THINKING?”

Is there any way to measure how much you love your kid, except maybe in cliches?

This week I look at my little three-year-old with her short blond bangs, and I listen to her insist that I am not her mommy but rather a puppy in need of some Milk Bones, I will be full of every good feeling that has ever been felt.

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