Lil Bit, today is your third birthday and that has Daddy thinking all kinds of things. To say, “I love you” feels so inadequate to really express the emotions I feel for you. So I’m going to try and explain it a bit better.

Your Nickname: Have we ever told you this story? I doubt it. The day you were born, your Mama and I hustled to the hospital where you were. We met all kinds of people that day, people from the hospital, the adoption agency, your birthmother and then most importantly, we met you. When you first came into that hospital room you were unhappy about something. Babies are like that.  When babies are unhappy, they cry. Even though you were just a couple hours old, you had no trouble letting everyone in that room know that you were not happy and somebody better get around to fixin’ it fast. I honestly don’t recall now if it was Mama or the head nurse who said, “ya’all better watch out for this one. She’s got a lil bit of attitude.” Lil Bit just stuck. To this day, I promise you, truer words have never been spoken.

You are an absolute dynamo. You are passionate. You are strong. You know just what you want, how and when you want it and you want it now! Mama and I joke with family that you’re “fiercely determined.” Unless you’re not listening to Mama or I, then you’re just freakin’ stubborn. But you know what? We love that about you. Your resolution is amazing.

Sure there are days where I wish you would listen to me first time when I tell you not to snatch the mail off the counter, or to put down your brother’s LEGOs before you break the build he spent half a day constructing. It’s not much fun for Daddy to be saying, “no, no, no,” what feels like all of the time.

And there are times now (and always will be) when you just have to listen to me the first time. That’s life. I’m you’re father. Deal with it. Like parking lots. It’s not negotiable. Hold my hand! NOW! Same with stoves…DON’T TOUCH! It’s those kind of things that might really hurt you, I’m talking about. On most everything else….I know Daddy grumbles, but honestly don’t give in. I’m amazed that at age 3 you absolutely will not be cowed or bowed by my yelling or plopping you down in an empty corner for a time out. Daddy admires how strong you are, even when you’re wrong, so don’t ever give in!  We’ll work it out. Your strength makes me be a better daddy. So I thank you.

Dance, Baby Dance: You love to dance and Daddy loves to feed that! The smiles and joy that you spread when you bob along to Will Smith’s “Nod Ya Head,” or you shimmy to Trace Adkins, “I Got My Game On,” or “Chrome” or any of a dozen other songs is just remarkable. You find rhythms in places that the rest of us don’t even think to look. I’ve sat in amazement some mornings and watched you bounce in time in the kitchen to the sound of the coffee dripping in the pot.

Daddy loves sharing dance parties with you after work. Some nights we dance in the kitchen, with the iPod blasting so loud we can’t even hear our own selves singing along. Some nights we take the music out on the back deck, and if it’s dark enough a couple of chem lights and shake and shimmy until I’m sure we’re going to rattle the deck right off the house.

Mustangs! You love Ford Mustangs! That makes your daddy giggle, a lot. You love them so much that at the age of three you can spot them on the road, in the dark at a 100 ft, just by the tail lights! Your first RC car was your very own Mustang. However, you still aren’t convinced that the Cobra is a legitimate Mustang, because there are no pony decals on it. We understand the confusion. It’s a subtle distinction. We’ll work on it.

This is just a very small list of some of the wonderful things about you that make Daddy love you more and more every day. Each day you grow stronger. You will need that strength, Lil Bit. Life isn’t always easy, but remember three things: 1) You are strong. Quite possibly the strongest person I’ve ever met. 2) Daddy will always be there for you. Some how, some way, I will. I promise. 3) Daddy loves you heart and soul. THAT will never change. It will only grow.