By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
About two and a half years ago, when I was pregnant with our third child, I had this glorious ultrasound appointment wherein we learned that, not only did the baby look healthy, it also looked like a girl – a sweet, cuddly pink bundle to join us and our two boys and give our home a little more balance of estrogen to testosterone. We wondered how different it might be to watch this baby girl grow up.
Our friends who are mothers of little girls told us it would be plenty different. They said our girl would be more verbal, and Kate has recently begun to prove their point. Not quite 2-years-old, she often belts out the alphabet song and inserts the words “wonk, wonk, wonk” when she can’t remember the next few letters. The other day she pointed to a candy jar on the kitchen counter and said “Skittle, pweeez!” And I gave her one, (which also illustrates how lax the rules become for a third child. I tell myself Skittles are helping her learn colors, but the truth is I’m a sucker for any baby who puts the word “pweeez” on the end of a request.)
My friends also told me our little girl would often shriek – that it was just “a girl thing.” I was really hoping they were wrong and that it was just a matter of personality or temperament or discipline. But they were right, and I’m amazed that Kate’s shrieking (in joy and in frustration) hasn’t shattered glass or made the dogs run away from home. A house with a little girl in it is a LOUD house.
Shrieking aside, she can be a pretty nurturing little lady when she feels like it. My laundry room is just off the playroom, and last week I noticed Kate was taking the clean towels out of the dryer and using them to tuck an Elmo doll in for the night. She patted his tummy, said “Nite, nite Elmo. Stay bed.” Then she offered him a taste of her pacifier, changed her mind and then popped it back into her own mouth. (Perhaps Elmo is more of a thumb-sucker.)
My friends said there was a good chance our girl might get fixated on something extra girly somewhere along the way. We figured there wasn’t much chance of that happening, since she’s been surrounded from day one by big brothers, toy trucks, dinosaurs, basketballs, plastic hammers and Shrek dolls. Yet somehow in the midst of all that testosterone-laden stuff, she developed a thing for purses. When I’d strap her into her car seat to go on errands, she’d reach her hands out toward the house and demand “Purse, purse!” So back I’d go to fetch a purse or a lunchbox or anything with a handle that might appease her. Lately I’ve learned it’s easier if I just hang a few toy purses by the back door so we can grab and go. But Kate is not a one-purse kind of girl. If there are three purses available, then there will be three purses accompanying her on the trip to the post office, the grocery store or her brothers’ soccer games. Her philosophy is “more is more” and she looks like a little bag lady most places we go, with small purses or lunch bags dangling off each arm.
Finally, my friends prepared me for how having a baby girl would completely change my husband. And, boy oh boy, were they right. When Kate does her girly run into the room, with her golden hair bouncing around her shoulders, and says “Hi, Daddy!” he transforms from a normal man into a syrupy pool of daddy butter. She OWNS him. And I bet, when I’m not looking, he gladly plies her with Skittles just to see her flash a big smile of appreciation and say “T’ank ew, Daddy.” She is our whirl of a girl, and I’m just glad we get to go along for the ride.