Today is Campbell’s 3rd birthday, so today’s Pickle Patch is dedicated to celebrating the life of our second child. Our middle child. I’ve always been particularly sympathetic to Campbell’s place in our family, because my mother is a middle child. (And she doesn’t have many good things to say about holding that title). This year, for Fiona’s birthday, I listed Five Fun Facts About Fiona; out of fairness, which is important when you have multiple kids, I’m now going to do the same for Campbell.
1. Campbell loves lions. Campbell has always had an affinity for anything feline. When she was almost one year old, she started crawling around under the table after meals and meowing — pretending to be a cat. This past year, she received a book based on the Disney movie The Lion King, and it’s been all about lions for her ever since. Most days, Campbell is Simba, the lion cub in that story: she calls herself Simba, and refers to her family members as various characters from The Lion King. There are people in town who probably think I’m the girls’ babysitter named Surabi, because that’s how Campbell usually addresses me (Surabi is Simba’s mother). And yes, when she’s feeling angry or scared, she has been known to roar. Interesting factoid: I don’t usually put any stock in the zodiac signs beyond thinking they’re fun, but Campbell’s a Leo. The lion. Go figure.
2. Campbell loves her sisters. Campbell can be prickly. In group settings, she prefers to do her own thing, by herself. She’s highly protective of her things: try to take something she’s playing with, and she will roar at you. Because Campbell hasn’t started preschool yet, she doesn’t have her own set of same-age friends (nor have I sought to create a social group for her, honestly, because she’s a second child). All of these things might cause me to worry about her chances for socialization, but I don’t for one reason: Campbell is nuts about her two sisters. As I’ve mentioned before, Campbell and Fiona have a bond so strong that they’re a little lost without each other; any time we drop Fiona off at preschool or a friend’s house, it’s only a matter of minutes before Campbell wistfully says, “I miss Fiona.” Lately, she’s been insisting that she’s going to marry Fiona, legal or not. (I sometimes worry that she and Fiona will turn into those spinster sisters who still share a room and sleep with dolls at age 80, but at least they won’t be lonely). And, much to everybody’s surprise, Campbell is displaying signs of becoming a sweet big sister: she’s been known to coo over Georgia’s cuteness, to watch out for her safety in public, and to patiently share the occasional toy with her baby sister. So Campbell may be prickly, but she’s well socialized within her own family, which probably counts for a lot.
3. Campbell is our most independent child (so far). Campbell was born with a remarkable amount of self-confidence, and an equally remarkable lack of concern over what anybody else thinks. These qualities make her exceedingly difficult to discipline, but they’re also traits that I admire — probably because they’re so foreign to me. When Fiona started going to preschool three days a week this past year, I thought that Campbell — as the classically overlooked middle child — would relish having my (almost) undivided attention. Nope. When she’s not missing her sister, she’ll often say, “Mommy, I just want to play by myself.” Her potty training was kind of a nightmare, because once she decided she was ready for it, she refused ANY help. “I need PRIVACY!” she shouts, shutting the bathroom door on me (a move I wasn’t expecting for at least another decade). And perhaps her most-used phrase? “I’m not afraid of ANYTHING!”
4. Campbell is hilarious. Thankfully, all of our girls have well-developed senses of humor, but Campbell is THE FUNNIEST. She loves telling us her own original “Knock-Knock” and “Why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes. (Her latest: “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Chair!” “Chair who?” “PERFUME!” I don’t get it, either, but it cracks her up every time). She also has an amazing ability to remember lines from the books she reads, and she’ll trot out these lines at just the right moment and have us all in stitches. Her favorite quote-able books are the George and Martha series and the Frances series: “Cute little critters!” “Here comes the rain!” and (pretending to have her mouth full of gum), “It’s not Gloria’s Chompo Bar YET.”
Some of Campbell’s funniness is unintentional. She’s fearless with her body, and she’s usually trying to keep up with Fiona, which means that she falls down A LOT. She’s the most likely Gong to fall out of her chair during meals. A typical day includes multiple moments when Campbell trips/slips/crashes, followed by a pause and an “I’m okay!” It’s like living with a klutzy romantic comedy heroine.
And my own personal favorite unintentional Campbell funniness: when she plays by herself, she always, ALWAYS uses this little Julia Child-on-helium voice for her characters, be they dolls, toy animals, or imaginary friends. It’s hilarious.
5. Campbell always surprises us. Just when you think you’ve got Campbell pegged as a tough, independent, wisecracking little spark-plug, she’ll do something that completely destroys any effort to pigeonhole her. She may not be afraid of anything…but really she is. And she may prefer to play by herself…but she also really wants Fiona to play with her, and she’ll snuggle up with me and a book on the couch for an hour. She may be hilarious…but she’s also a girl who’s already asking big questions about God and love and death.
Happy 3rd Birthday, Campbell Josephine! You may be in the middle in terms of birth order, but you’re in a class all your own.