Over Christmas break, Peeper and her cousin were sitting on stools in the kitchen. “You’re so big already—don’t get any bigger!” her Aunt Meghan teased. Everyone laughed—everyone but Peeper. She burst into tears.
“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.
“I don’t want to stay small!” she wailed.
Peeper loves to be a big girl, but she also craves the security of being our baby. This push and pull between big and small colors every day. Just as she’s halfway between 3 and 4, she’s halfway between big and small.
Halfway to big
Peeper is at the stage where she revels in getting bigger. We persuade our picky eater to try vegetables and take a few more bites because, as she believes, vegetables make you grow. She stretches her arms as wide as they’ll go after meals, showing us just how much longer her arms got after a meal of spaghetti or peanut butter banana. And she jumps with all her might—”Look how high I can jump!”—to test just how much she’s grown in the last 15 minutes.
She also enjoys being a big sister. “Kiwi is saying a new word!” she’ll exclaim. “She’s trying to say blueberries. That’s right, b, b, b, blueberries, Kiwi!”
She also loves to teach Kiwi new skills, whether it’s blowing spit bubbles (seriously so gross), spinning, eating cereal (“You go like this”—crunch crunch) or climbing the elliptical machine. Peeper is her little sister’s biggest cheerleader, applauding her every milestone.
Halfway to small
Yet being big isn’t always part of Peeper’s plan.
Every so often, she becomes Baby Peeper. She’ll crawl into Kiwi’s crib or lie down on the changing pad. Once she even insisted on wearing a diaper over her undies.
“Gagagaga,” she’ll say, copying baby talk. But then she’ll do a remarkable, spot-on impersonation of her little sister. She’ll point, make Kiwi’s signature “mmmmn” sound and scrunch up her nose in the perfect imitation of her sister’s smile.
Seriously, she could take this act on the road, it’s so good.
And every so often, Peeper will become a baby again, snuggling in my lap in the rocking chair. She’ll tuck her head under my chin and pull her knees up to her chest. While she’s resting on me, I sing her favorite lullabies and marvel that this child, halfway between big and small, ever fit inside of me.
Peeper is all lanky limbs these days. I laugh when she shows us her impressive wingspan (“Look how long my arms are!”) because she takes after her dad, whose arms are so long he needs a specially fitted golf club.
She is changing into a big child. She has lost the baby fat that gave her such beautifully chubby cheeks. She may be halfway between big and small, but she’s hurtling toward big at a pace that takes my breath away.
Staying big and small
Unlike her joking Aunt Meghan, I don’t want to keep Peeper small. I love witnessing how she grows, develops and changes every day.
She wakes up each morning a new person. Although some things are consistent—her favorite color remains purple, she still hates washing her hands—the dawn could bring any other new development.
Tomorrow could be the day she finally lands a perfect cartwheel or
While I wake up just as excited as she does to see what the day brings, I cherish the times she turns back into Baby Peeper. Those moments, whether she’s a goof copying her sister’s baby talk or a cuddlebug who finds a cozy spot on my lap, remind me of the days when she was my everything, my all. When I was her world and she was mine. When the universe shrunk to the size of just us—a mother and a baby halfway between big and small.