When Annabel was in her “terrible twos” and having a bad day behavior-wise, people often told me I was in for a rude awakening because age three would be even worse. Now that Annie is three I must admit there definitely are some new challenges that weren’t there before, but there’s new good stuff, too, which surprised me. I think I was so focused on preparing for her to change for the worse that I didn’t give much thought to how she could change for the better.

My favorite change in Annabel is just how sweet she’s become. That probably sounds silly since she’s always been sweet, but lately she’s been actively doing new sweet things that melt my heart on a daily basis.

Yesterday, for example, I was reading Annie the little “Peter Pan” book that came inside the movie’s DVD case, and she got into it in a way she hadn’t with any other story. When Captain Hook appeared she literally recoiled in fear, and when Peter Pan showed up at the end to save Wendy and the Lost Boys, she squealed with excitement. Seeing Annie lose herself in the story in such an incredible way was awesome to see.

story time
“And then out popped Captain Hook!”

Then there was the birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese last weekend. At our last trip there (a little less than a year ago) Annie was afraid of ol’ Chuck E. and refused to go anywhere near him. This time, though, she ran up to him and waved, wide eyed, while shouting, “Hi Chuck E.! Hi!” over and over. Being the crotchety old man that I am, I couldn’t help but see a teenager in a mouse suit that’s seen much, much better days (seriously, corporate needs to ship out a new mouse suit ASAP). But Annie? She didn’t see that at all. She saw THE Chuck E. Cheese, and the look of awe on her face could bring a smile to the face of even the crotchetiest old man.

Even better than Annie’s face at Chuck E. Cheese? The fact that she’s taken to doing this all of the time:

hugging daddy

Maybe my favorite new sweet thing of all? Hearing her in another room talking to her grandma about me. “My Daddy, he took me to get ice cream…”

“My Daddy.”

I don’t know why exactly, but hearing her refer to me as “my daddy” made my heart swell. So sweet.

I was a bit nervous about Annie’s reaching the “terrible threes,” but three is a great age, really. While there will certainly be easier ages to deal with as a parent, they won’t necessarily be better. I’ll take hard and awesome over easy and disappointing any day.