Our Amabelle can be such an enigma - at times we can't figure her out at all. Some times she is so in touch with her feelings that it's like looking through a window into her soul. She is a tough little package that hides a super sensitive interior. Just when you think everyone in the family is under control Belle will surprise you by being the one that's the most emotionally effected by what just happened.
It turned out that Amabelle, not Emmaline had the more difficult adjustment to preschool, Amabelle is the one that repeats a reprimand that she laughed at 2 months earlier during a current tearful breakdown. We have learned not to take her at face value, to ask the extra questions, to watch her eyes during her responses... to know when to give her cuddles and know when to give her space. Belle has learned how to comfort herself, but sometimes her emotions are too much. If that's the case she's the first to tell us... "Mommy that makes me really really sad!" "Look at my sad, sad face!"
Amabelle loves being with her sister, and always wants to know what the boys are up too... even if she's happier when the men are more than an arms distance away. She's been beamed in the head too many times to casually let them in her presence. And yet, she is not one to defend herself... which sometimes worries us. There was a time about a year ago that Belle - scarily - defended herself against a younger Alex. Tony's and my reaction were SO extreme that I'm afraid that we've messed with her ability to defend when necessary. (This is one of those parenting events that I wish I could do over... it still keeps me awake at night.) The result is that Belle doesn't move out of the way, she doesn't yell back...
As an extra long aside: Just the other day I had to get all mother bear on the neighbor kids. These are good kids that often find themselves in our yard playing with the girls... but the neighbors are more then twice Belles age. Both girls adore them, but lately Tony and I have been getting more and more wary about the language, games, and general rough play that these older kiddos are exposing the girls too (especially the older boys). (It should be said that the play is very mild for the neighbors age, but very rough for a 3 year old). As I was making dinner at the grill and Tony was cutting the grass I was listening to the conversations that were happening on the swings below. There were several reminders by me about going easy with the equipment, a reminder about nice language, then I heard the "she's just a baby - I bet you cry don't you? Let's hear you cry!"
I was lunging to the steps to go to her rescue when I heard her calmly reply: "I'm not sad, why would I cry?" Okay - no rescue necessary, well done Bella! Then there was the "do you want to play a game?" and Belle's "Sure! I sure do!" and then their "Just kidding" as they all ran away. (My blood was BOILING! - but then I heard her singing happily on the swing...). When the big kids came back for the 3rd time and asked Belle if she could count to 10 with her eye's closed (which of course she did as they, of course, ran away) I had to bite back some pretty unkind words... This time I heard her say "hey, where did my friends go?"
I don't know if this was the right thing to do or not, but I FLEW down those stairs, gave Bella a kiss on the forehead, pointed her in the direction of Daddy while I stormed in the direction of the older kids, now playing a different game around the opposite side of their house. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I know that it contained the sentiments "My girls love to play with you, but they are three years old. If you can not play with them with kindness and remembering that the games that you play at recess are not appropriate for them, then you should not be playing with my girls. You don't have to play at our house, you do not have to play on our swings, you do not have to play with Emma and Belle. But if you do then you will follow our rules, and our rules are that EVERYONE is treated with kindness. EVERYONE is included, and no one is made to feel like they are not important." I was worried about crossing the line, when each one of the neighbors very sincerely said "I'm Sorry" and I turned to see Tony giving me the thumbs up. "That was a long time in coming" he said... End tangent.
Belle is beautifully creative. She imagines the magic in the world around her with such vigor that we get wrapped into it... But if we take it too far she'll remind us "this is only pretend". There are times that I can't get her to focus on putting 3 toys into the toy box, but she will set for HOURS and help me with dinner. She will sort things by color (like two bags of M&M's for her 2nd birthday party)... in fact she sorts her mini bags of M&M's and fruit snacks by color before eating them (I totally do this too). The other night Belle wanted to help me with dinner. She cleaned the interior of the peppers, peeled the onions, and removed the stem from a basket full of mushrooms, all the while keeping me entertained with innocent chatter.
Belle wants to dance like Emma, but really loves to watch just as much. She can remember the lyrics to a song that she's heard only once with an accuracy rivaled only by Daddy. She has memorized so many books that she could read them to us if she didn't love hearing them so much (but don't mess up the words or she'll let you know all about it). Amabelle is patient with herself and patient with others. I think it comes through the most in her artwork - she is REALLY GOOD! But it's her patience, her willingness to practice, her willingness to follow directions that has her pieces standing out from the others on the preschool bulletin board. She has moved far beyond the scribbling step that many 3 year olds embody and wants to know how to make different objects: snowmen, cupcakes, letters... and then she practices.
She's also phenomenal with letters and sounds, picking up on rhyming and beginning letter sounds with ease. This balances out that fact that she is extremely interested in all of my makeup and beauty regimines.
I think the biggest change and one of the most enjoyable changes that Big girl Bella has exhibited over Baby Bella is her love of a cuddle. I've written about it before, but it is just so fabulous I can't get enough of it. She comes for extra cuddles every morning and it's great just to have that special time with her every day. She sometimes moves with such vigor that she'll whack