As Jet turns three years old today I realize that a charming little girl has replaced my adorable toddler-aged granddaughter. She still needs me to help keep her safe, but each day she wants to do more for herself. She combs her own hair, brushes her teeth, gets dressed, puts on her socks and shoes, tells me what to make for breakfast, opens the refrigerator, and selects her own lunch. She wants to help me fill the bird feeders, sweep the kitchen floor and deadhead flowers in the garden and she beams when I tell her she’s done a good job. Jet laughs when I seem to have forgotten something routine. She enjoys the opportunity to remind to her “silly grandma” about important things like giving her a daily prune or to close the top on her finger paints.
She’s grown so much and learned so many things in the past year I can’t keep track of them all. She can write a “J,” cut with scissors, follow directions, remember songs by whole verse, make rational decisions and negotiate compromises. Jet has loved making decisions since she was small, but now she considers more factors than her own desires. “Let’s go this way,” she says as she pulls my hand to the left, but when I tell her that my sore knee makes me want to go the other way to avoid a steep hill, she readily agrees. She negotiates so skillfully that she can often get me to do her bidding without even realizing that I’ve been manipulated. When I mention bath time and suggest she use the potty first she says, “I don’t need to go potty yet. How about we save bath time for a little later and play for just a few more minutes first?” I don’t even resist. She likes her bath; she just wants it on her own terms.
Painting a birdhouse has become something of a family tradition at this age and Jet was more than ready for her turn. She gave her house a purple roof, two orange walls, two pink walls and blue base. She dipped her finger in paint and covered everything with blue and white spots. “It’s gorgeous!” we both agree.
Jet’s growing sense of empathy has brought her to the point of wanting to take care of me, too. “Better hold my hand,“ she says when I stumble on our walk. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you!” She’s sorry when her sharp elbows bring tears to my eyes or when she trods blithely on my bare toes. Sometimes, when we are reading she will turn her big blue eyes to my face and say solemnly, “I love you Grandma, I want to keep you forever!” I smile and she knows she’s made me feel happy.
Jet requested a “pink party” for her birthday and invited everyone she met. “I’m having a pink party for my birthday” she’d say, “I’m going to be three! Want to come to my party?” For her present, she wanted a Little People dollhouse like Grandma has – something no longer sold in stores, of course — but we found the next best thing. Aunt Mary’s dollhouse came down from the attic and I refurbished the Maple Town rabbit family that her mama loved. Jet and I picked out furniture online. She was even able to rank her choices in order of desirability! Most important was a crib and stroller, followed by a table with chairs and bunk beds. She got them all. I always wanted a dollhouse, too.