Every time my kids (and, I assume, all kids) go through a cognitive leap, they take a few large steps backwards before they jump forwards.  I know this, none of it is new, and yet every time it happens, I still find myself totally dismayed and shocked by the whole thing.

We've had a really craptastic month with the three year old.  She's been crawling around the house, she's refusing to sleep without a bottle, she managed to find a damn binkie somewhere around here, she's been pointing at things and saying "eeeeehh!" constantly.  She's ONE, all over again, only way more annoying.

I know this means something big is about to happen.  In my head, it all totally makes sense.  I cannot, however, seem to remember this fact, ever, not once in the decade I've had kids, and I always get blindsided by the jump.

Tonight, I laid her down to sleep, with her bottle *shudder* and a little while after I tucked her in, she cried out for me.  I went into her room and asked her what she needed.  She said, "Momma, I need to use the washroom."

Not, "Momma, I meed go potty."  Oh, no, it was a crystal clear, perfect little sentence.  I picked her up and carried her to the washroom (my kid is SO Canadian, eh) and she then asked, "Can I have some more milk?" and I said, "No way, dude" and she countered, "How about some water, then?"

None of this is any big deal at all except that she wasn't talking like that two weeks ago.  She would have said, "MUK!" and I would have said, "No way, dude" and she would have said, "WA-ER!"

Ladies and gentlemen, my baby has acquired language.

It's not just that, she's also going potty by herself.  Maybe your kids go by themselves by three, but my kid demands that I needs me to take her into the washroom, pick her up, pull her bottoms down, sit her on the potty, sit myself on the floor, cover her eyes with my hands and wait until she is done.  When she is finished, I then have to fold the toilet paper into thirds, stand her up, pat-pat-pat her bottom (never, ever wipe that kids' bottom. You've been warned.  She'll poke your eyeballs out) and then get her bottoms back up.

I abhor taking this kid to the potty.  Imagine my surprise when The Donor and I went out on the porch for a smoke (shut up, I know it's killing me) and when we came back in, she was waddling her little butt down the stairs.  "Whatcha doing?" I asked and she answered, "I went potty all by myself!"

AND she washed her hands after.

Since then she's kept going by herself, she's wiping, she's going to her room to get her own things, she's picking out and putting on clothes, and she's cleaning up after herself (a little).  She lays on her tummy on the couch in the sun by the window and reads her little books.  "T-S-O-P, Stop!"  I explained to her that she positively had to eat two green beans and a bite of stuffing with dinner last night, that I wasn't taking no for an answer, and she did it.  She lets me wash her hair.  She's also kicking major ass at Sonic Heroes.  She helped me get Tails under some crates and past a level the other day.  She's three.

She jumped a full size in clothes overnight.  She's started caring what her hair looks like.  Her baby fat is almost gone.  She can touch the floor when she sits in a chair.  She went to bed one night a toddler and woke up the next day a girl.

I am fully aware that there is not one extraordinary thing about any of this.  My three year old speaks in proper sentences and can wipe her own ass.  She plays in her room and likes video games.  Whatever, right?  Right.  I get it.  But it just all sort of happened one day, the way these things do with kids, and I can't remember ever noticing this stuff before.  Maybe it's because I had two kids little kids together before, maybe because I worked full time and then had two kids to chase at night and was just too distracted or tired to notice.  I'm sure it's all buried in the back of their baby books (hope is more like it) but I cannot remember noticing it like this.

I remember a few months ago looking a a friend's picture of his daughter who is just a few months older than mine, and thinking there was no way they were so close in age.  She looked nothing like my child.  She was long and lean and grown up, and my kid was round and little.  Tonight, I looked at my kid and I saw that same thing I saw in his child.  I saw a kid, not a toddler.

I saw my daughter, not my baby, for the first time tonight.  She's been here for a while, I suspect, I just forgot she was coming.  You wanna know something?  I'm pretty sure that my daughter is absolutely lovely.