How, how, how are you three, little girl?
With your light, silky hair and your heart-piercing stare.
You chuckle ’till you’re out of breath, you whine my patience half to death;
you’re a quiet, patient friend; you’re an effortlessly kind sister…
I’m still hopelessly in love with you, you sweet, smart, expressive, thoughtful child.
Indeed, how can she be three? How can I be the parent of a three year old?
Three, N is teaching me, is old enough to make up songs, to dress herself, to deeply desire to do everything else by herself, to play board games, to learn all the sounds letters make, to do and undo every button on her clothes, to “help” sweep the floor, to “help” cook, and to “help” do the dishes every morning. I am not going to apologize for the use of scare quotes; you don’t understand why they call them “scare” quotes until you have a three-year-old “help” do the dishes. We have a lot of fun, but that broom gets lots of use.
Three is also old enough to pick one’s own knitted birthday gift. N had been dressing and undressing her one little fancy doll several times a day, so I offered to knit her a new dress. She came with me to Iqaluit’s local yarn store (which is half of a fabric store, within half of a hardware store, and really not bad). With only a little coaching, she narrowed down her many choices to some yarn that was downright lovely (Patons Silk Bamboo, in a sort of salmon-coral).
Three is, however, definitely not old enough to have a concept of the time it takes to craft something by hand. After that initial purchase, every day came the question, “Did you finish knitting Pink Dolly’s new dress?”
The pattern was a total eyeball job, right out of my head: I cast on some stitches that seemed about right, fiddled about with stitch markers ’till they seemed about right for a raglan shape, then knit downward, throwing eyelets and garter bits until it seemed “right.” I did actually try the thing on “pink dolly” to make sure the whole scheme was working before casting off to finish the yoke, then knit straight for the skirt, incorporating a couple increases. Another bit of complementary patterning at the bottom, and shazam, a dress!
I admit to being fairly proud of myself, though the newly re-christened “Orange Dolly” isn’t quite ready for 5th Avenue. That’s that fashion place, right? Or is that where the money people are? No, that’s Wall Street. Clearly I’ve never been there.
Improvising a doll dress was about half cleverness (It’s a tiny sweater, I know how to do those) and half laziness (who wants to google when you can guess?) I have since been introduced to the wide and wild world of doll fashions. I have a friend up here lending me pattern books full of pictures of dolls who are all significantly better dressed than myself.
But they’ll have to wait. I told N I wouldn’t teach her to knit ’till she’s four.