Thoughts from a 3-1/2 year old’s Dad

It’s fall — students are back on campus at the college where I work, the Pennsylvania air is starting to turn cooler and crisper, and StarGirl is getting ready to start preschool.

Preschool … wow. StarGirl’s gone from being this tiny little baby that I spent hours walking with in order to sooth her crying to a little girl — sorry, big girl — who’s potty trained, amazingly creative and alternatively fiercely independent or exceedingly needy.

The Big Sister: The biggest change for StarGirl this year has been the arrival of her baby brother NeutronLad. She’s dealt with it pretty well — we’ve had a few regressions here and there, and she seems more likely to have tantrums (nay, that’s to mild a word — let’s call them meltdowns) but that’s just part of being three. She loves trying to get NeutronLad to smile, and has just started “reading” books to him. I’m sure she has occasional pangs of jealousy, which usually manifest as attempts to crawl on our laps or otherwise demand our attention while feeding or changing NeutronLad, but its nothing excessive. All-in-all, they’re getting along just fine, a state of affairs that will probably continue until NeutronLad starts crawling and can begin getting into her stuff.

My Daughter, the Gamer, the Reader: StarGirl loves my Nintendo DS, particularly the games Animal Crossing (in which a small child-like figure explores and interacts with a town populated by humanized animals) and Nintendogs (in which she can feed, wash, walk and train a Labrador retriever puppy). Jordie tried out Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but she had a hard time with the Nintendo 64 controls. The DS’s stylus is much easier for her to control, and as a result, she’s able to play 70-80% of Animal Crossing and Nintendogs with it. Her biggest stumbling block with both games is the same thing: an inability to read. She’s started to show an interest in learning to read, partly because she sees us doing it all the time, but partly (I think) out of frustration in not being able to read the game’s instructions, or really understand the words in her books. We’ve started some spelling and “sounding out” exercises, which she’s enjoying greatly.

Three-Year-Old Questions: At breakfast the other day, StarGirl asked “Why do we have bones?” A darn good question, and my response was that they hold our bodies up. Then she asked why we have our skeletons on the inside … I think my answer was something about how it’d be pretty uncomfortable to have them on the outside. We didn’t get into the whole bug/exoskeleton thing.

LEGO Star Wars II: Referred to by StarGirl as “the good LEGO Star Wars“, this game has done much to convert StarGirl (previously terrified of Star Wars because of the Darth Vader trailers for Episode III) to the way of the Force. Princess Leia helps (because StarGirl loves princesses) as does the game’s lighthearted, LEGO-inspired humor. There’s a few “scary parts” she doesn’t like (generally the close-ups of Vader) but overall it’s a big hit — she loves sitting next to me on the coach and adding her color commentary to the onscreen battles.

The Battle of Wills: You hear a lot about the terrible twos, but for us, the troublesome threes have been far more trying. StarGirl never threw any of those two-year-old tantrums you hear so much about, and while she could be willful, it was always manageable. At three StarGirl’s got strong opinions, which are backed up by little kid logic that occasionally sits at right angles to reality.

She can be exceedingly argumentative, going to far as to actually pick fights with us. Often, these are over things you really can’t fight about unless you are three — for instance, on Friday she steadfastly held to the idea that it was actually Thursday, and that she was going to preschool. No amount of discussion to the contrary would convince her, and I quickly decided to let her figure out the truth for herself. That’s what we do in most cases — we state the correct counterpoint and end the argument simply by not responding to further barrages … but it can make for a very trying morning or afternoon. Other times we’ll try and explain things to her, which does sometimes work, but when we can sense she’s fighting just for attention, we back off.

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