Dear YaYa Sister,

Yesterday you sang all day long. We were shopping in the town an hour and a half north of us, and as we drove, you sang. As we shopped, you sang. As we checked out, you sang the ABC song with the checkout lady. You made sure to correct her when she sang the last part differently from the way we do. Your correction these days is delightfully subtle, as you yell, "You're WRONG!" You and your brother both like to point it out when I'm wrong, and I can barely write that without thinking of the look your Superstar Dad will give me when I tell him that. Yes. I know, I like to be right a little too much. We all do.

But the point of this letter is the singing. And you, delectable, wonderful you, spice of our lives, the one who ties us together. Where would Kid A be without a sister to laugh with in the car, without a girl to make up the games that he plays, the stories that you imagine together? Yesterday you decided that all of the cars we passed were Kid A's, and all of the trucks were yours. Later all of the red cars were yours, and all of the yellow cars were Kid A's. I personally think you got the sweeter deal, since it's well known that there are a lot more red cars in the world than yellow. Wait, no, that's not true, if we were in New York City or Calcutta, India, Kid A would be stomping you.

But your songs. When we stood in line at one store, you sang a song about how the ends of Renee's pigtails looked like paintbrushes to you. It went like this:

Paintbrushes... in the world.

Paintbrushes... in the world.

Paintbrushes... in the world. 

(Repeat 48x)

Renee was glad to sing along with you. You still have this funny thing about the phrase "in the world". After your Uncle Matty, the infamous Uncle "Jesus" Matty, as Kid A called him once (after which I said, "Kid A, he's not Jesus," and Kid A snapped back, "He IS Jesus!") told you a hundred times that you are the cutest girl in the world you started using it. You would say things like, "You're so good in the world." Now it's come to be that you poke Leafy in the cheeks and say "In the world, In the world," while he shrieks and tries to get away from you. I think it means something like, "I like you. You're nice."  Almost all your songs have something about "In the world" in them. So often I smile because of something you are saying, or something you are singing. I smile all the time because of you.

You are still up and down, like you've always been. Spicy, emotional. Three is bigger and badder, sassier and smarter than Two was. Three is a lot of guidance, a lot of letting you know that you need to rephrase.  Rephrase that please, Yaya, I say, after you holler your demands at me. And usually you do, plastering a sweet smile on your face. Lately you've been catching yourself mid-sentence when you're being demanding and changing your tone all by yourself. It's nice.

Three has been emotional, so far. Your analytical older brother, even in all his melodrama, did not prepare me for the utter breakdowns of a three-year-old girl. You weep. You storm. You grieve. You are heartbroken. You rail against heaven and earth and all the injustice contained between the two, and all because you wanted to stay and play a little longer when it is time to leave. A couple of times I have realized that I have genuinely hurt your feelings, and this is a new experience for me. These times are touchy, I have apologized to you for not giving you fairer warning about things. It's different, now. I feel a little breath of the future.

Your birthday was followed by some craziness and trauma in our lives, a time during which I felt unable to write you the birthday letter you deserved. But I didn't want to let it go totally undone. You did have a birthday party and this year you asked for a flower cake. Our oven was broken, but some friends had one in their RV, and after a little sweating, I managed to make you one.

Then we asked you to make a speech, and you sat there with a shirt that was too big for you, a play-shirt that I had been too busy to change, that was slipping off your shoulder, and a look on your face that was shy and adorable and sweet.  There was no speech, but we were all able to watch you being delighted by something that comes rarely for a girl who is growing up in a pile of kids.  A roomful of people, all there for you, sweetie, a roomful of people to sing to you.