A GRACE FILLED JOURNEY • Navigating Life With A ‘Threenager’

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It's official. We no longer have a "threenager" in our house!

Our beautiful Charlotte Grace turned four this month, and we have been celebrating all week.

Charley is into all things Disney, especially princesses, so we had a princess dinner with both sets of grandparents, complete with princess-shaped pasta for spaghetti.

It's been fun to watch our princess transform over the past year, although we definitely understand why we call them "threenagers."

This past year has been one of the most challenging, exacerbated by an ongoing global pandemic that's forced us to stay home more than usual.

Although we're pretty sure Charley has been a drama queen since the day we brought her home from the hospital, the first couple of years seemed much easier than the last one. From our experiences with Grace, Kyle and I are more in tune to all the milestone stages, and enjoyed watching Charley surpass our expectations all the time.

But while Charley continues to grow and develop, she's also become more independent, and less likely to do what we ask her to do. From being "too scared" to pick up her toys, to insisting on wearing a princess sundress in freezing temperatures, we have had more than our share of fights with Charley this past year.

It's been especially hard for me, because I don't like to be a yeller. I try very hard to talk to Charley about why we set certain rules or why things are important. I try over and over again to be calm and rational, but it seems like Charley will only listen when I yell. Which is really hard for me, because I don't like to yell.

To her credit, after I yell at her, she usually gets mad, but then concedes to do what is asked of her. And minutes after that, she's happy again and reminds me how much she loves me.

And we go back and start the whole process over again. And again. And again.

And I wonder how we will ever survive, especially as she becomes more and more independent every day.

But then, just when I've given up hope, Charley reminds me of the sweet and kind young lady she is.

One night, I was getting ready to give Grace a bath. I had laid her on my bed while I got everything ready for her bath. Charley poked her head into the bathroom to ask what I was doing. She quickly told me she wanted to read to Grace while I got her bath ready.

Before long, I caught myself just sitting out the door while Charley read her way through a stack of books she picked out for Grace. I knew if I went inside the room that she would stop, so I just sat there and listened, in awe of her compassion for her sister.

Sometimes my heart wishes that Charley had come along sooner, in time to play with Grace when she had more skills or in time to remember when Grace could smile. But despite all of Grace's limitations, Charley loves her unconditionally, and works so hard to include her in the things we do together. With Charley's help, Grace has even been known to beat us at a round of Pretty, Pretty Princess.

It's definitely been easy to get caught up in Charley's attitude this past year in doing things we thought she should do. But she also continues to show us what an amazing young lady she is turning into. And I'm looking forward to seeing what the next year holds.

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