She turned 4 yesterday, my little Aviva.

She was born stubbornly, wide awake, noisy, and ravenously hungry. In that respect, it seems very little has changed.

But, now she is simultaneously so big and so small, such as all four year olds are.  She’s still a baby in so many ways, but so hell-bent on independence and autonomy that her everyday must feel like a challenge against an impossibly slow clock.

In my everyday, that clock moves far too quickly and I am powerless to stop it.  She changes a little each day – a new word here, a new skill there, a new question, a new answer, a new connection, an increasingly sharper wit.  Even though it feels like her childhood is stuck on fast-forward, it is amazing to watch.  I love every minute of it, every minute of her.

Aviva at age four, in short order…

– First and foremost, she started preschool this year and loved it from day one.  She was so ready, so excited.  We dropped her off and that was that.  No tears, no drama – just a hug and “See you later!”.  It’s been great for her. She loves her teachers and her new friends, but now she’s starting to really love learning, too.

– We got rid of her stroller this year.  This was a huge deal because we live in a very urban area and walk pretty much everywhere.  I’m thrilled that she can finally keep up with us on foot without complaining, but I’m also just glad not to be pushing a 36 pound child around town anymore.

– By her third birthday, she was done with diapers during the day and now she’s also done with them during the night!  Hurrah!

– She is prone to melodrama and I try very hard not to encourage it, but sometimes, for the sake of awesomeness, I have to let her get it out.  She got a haircut a few weeks ago and loved her new style so much that she refused to shower.  The mere suggestion of a quick rinse caused heart-wrenching sobs and wails of “Noooo! It will ruin my perftic haircut!“.

– Clever and funny, she loves to catch our attention and her siblings’ affection by doing something silly or saying something hilarious, like dancing on her chair during dinner or referring to herself as a superhero.  She definitely knows her audience and enjoys clowning around in the spotlight.

– She loves books and loves when we read to her. She also “reads” to herself, poring over her story books, waiting for the words to sink in and bestow literacy.  I’d wager that, by her next birthday, she’ll be reading.

– Lately, her favorite word is “fabulous”.  She had this conversation with Noah yesterday, with regard to a paper doll:  Noah remarked, “That doll is really ugly.”  Aviva sassed back, “No, she isn’t.  She is FAAAAABUUUUULOUS and you LOOOOOOOVE her.” He chuckled, shook his head, and walked away as Aviva quietly affirmed, “Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous…

– She loves nature and enjoys learning about plants and animals.  Currently, she’s obsessed with Venus Fly Traps and Polar Bears. She offered this dissertation on polar bears last week, “You should be careful because they are big and they could bite you and it would hurt. They live in the snow, so you have to wear boots and snow pants to play with them.  And you can play with the babies because they are so cute and little, but the mommies are huge.  So huge!  Bigger than Daddy! You should not play with the mommies, but they might like it if you scratched them on the head like a doggie. That would make them so happy, I think.” As for the Fly Traps, she recently saw footage of one devouring a fly and, wide-eyed,  she exclaimed, “Whoa! That is NOT NICE.”

She gets carsick very easily, even with dramamine and ginger candy.  The doctor thinks that she’ll outgrow it, but in the meantime, we have to carry along some towels, plastic bags, and a few changes of clothes each time we go for a ride in the car. Thankfully, she is very self-aware and will shout, “I’M GONNA FROW UP IN A MINUTE!” about 20 seconds before she inevitably does.

– This self-awareness is also what makes her incredibly feisty, opinionated, and outspoken. She knows what she wants, likes things her way, and will try to convince you to like them her way, too.  I cannot imagine where she gets this from.

– She is very affectionate and just loves to love!  And we love her right back.

– She’s a daring, energetic little sprite with pink cheeks and an untamed mane of curls – a rosy child, strong and wild.

And we are so glad she’s ours.

Happy 4th, baby girl.