So Ellie has been three for a couple of weeks.
Looking at it written that way - in a perky san serif font with her cute little picture above it - doesn't really communicate the level of emotion I'm experiencing.
Let me try it this way.
Those are lightning bolts, tears and fangs dripping blood on that last 'e', by the way.
I'm not really so good at art.
Anyhoo, nobody warned me that the day children turn three they suddenly turn deaf. And into turds.
I spent the better part of her second year anticipating the onset of the "Terrible Twos". Always waiting for the other shoe to drop, occasionally peeking my head out from behind the couch to see if she had turned into a demon yet.
And it never happened. She was awesome. I started to get excited, and comfortable, with the fact that my child was exceptional and we would be best friends forever.
Then I let my guard down and she turned three.
It started a few days after her birthday when we went to the park. Something we've done a million times before, because Ellie is always so great at staying with the herd.
I took a couple of pictures to commemorate our awesome afternoon.
Here they are walking down the path. Oh look - Ellie found a pine cone. They're so cute, and obey so well. What a beautiful day. Things will always be this wonderful.
Aaah, here they are walking around a little building, singing a song. What a pair. I'm the luckiest Mom ever.
Oh look - Lila threatened Ellie into handing over the pine cone or she'd cut her in her sleep. Sisters. LOL. Nothing will ever go wrong.
And here they are from a bit of a distance, my two awesome girls. I don't worry because I know they won't go any farther. "Hang on girls," I shout. I remember I have another child attached to me so I decide to take a picture of her as well.
Yes, here we are - one big happy family hanging out at the park on a beautiful day.
I upload that last one to Facebook, to brag to the world about what awesome kids I have.
Then I look up and realize Ellie has bolted.
"Red light," I yell, picking up my pace. She ignores me and runs faster.
"Ellie stop!" I yell louder. Again, ignores me and runs faster. Toward the busy street.
Now, I don't know if you've ever tried to run with a baby strapped to your front. But it's impossible. Not only because the baby gets whiplash and her feet end up behind her ears, but because there is so much weight on your back that your legs just plain don't work in fast forward.
However, seeing your eldest daughter heading straight for traffic and a quick flash of yourself sitting in a jail cell helps your body to defy certain laws of physics.
I run ahead, passing Lila who, thankfully, has entered the early stages of obesity and is unable to sustain any sort of physical activity for a period longer than 30 seconds.
"Lila - move your ass!" I yell as I run past her. I'm gaining on Ellie, who has just realized she has stepped off the curb into the street and quickly runs back onto the grass.
Thinking she has come to her senses and decided to mind me, I slow to a walk and Hadley wonders if the ringing in her ears from her brain bouncing against her skull will persist into her adolescence.
"ELLIE! Get over here now!" just as I reach out to grab her, she laughs and runs away. Just fast enough that I can't catch her. Laughing.
Oh HELLZ no. The ONE thing you don't want to do when someone is so angry they may go ape shit is laugh.
In case you missed it, the irony here is that I'm so furious that she almost hurt herself by running into the street that I want to beat her silly.
Finally, FINALLY, I catch her. And I swear to you, it's lucky for her we were in a public place with lots of witnesses keeping me from doing bad things.
I grab her hand, backtrack to Lila and grab hers.
Right about then Ellie decides to play a little game I call "dead weight". It's really fun - she pretends like her legs don't work and I have to drag her along. Lila sees her do it and decides to join in.
And there I am - in the middle of a field with a lot of people staring - JUDGING - with a baby strapped to the front of me and dragging two toddlers by their arms, refusing to walk.
At this point in my day I'm starting to question my life choices. I pick them up, one at a time, put one under each arm, and power walk back to the van with the strength of five men. I was praying for a mugger to try to take my wallet because I would have roundhoused his jaw bone off his face. By the time we got back to the car I had pretty much sweat out the temptation of physical abuse and talked myself down from the ledge.
But not only was I humiliated, but my feelings were hurt. Many days Ellie is the only person I have to talk to and it's hard not to take it personally when your primary daily companion decides to run into traffic.
At the very least, we should be able to co-exist with the mutual understanding that we won't embarrass each other in public. Because let me tell you, I've had three kids and I can fart the lyrics to Bad to the Bone. And I will win every time at that game, sister.