Get A Grip: Communication with daughter stretches into new realm as she grows older

The 'terrible 2's' were not terrible at all.

There were challenges, to be sure – potty training being at the top of the list.

But, all in all, two was a wonderful age for my daughter.

Three started out fun.

As her vocabulary and awareness of the world increases, our communication has stretched into new realms.

Beyond bedtime, food, drink and potty, we can now talk about the weather, discuss dance class and a myriad of other topics.

I've found myself in a bit of trouble lately as the result of my determination to provide Sophie with truthful answers to the question, "What is that?"

The trouble specifically stems from my decision to name all body parts she questions.

I don't have much patience with cute euphemisms for body parts but she seems to recall specific names (loudly) at inopportune moments.

This results in my (so far failed) attempts to explain that "we don't talk about that in public."

Her growing independence has also manifested itself in some deliberate misdeeds.

Example: One day last week she was suspiciously agreeable about taking a nap.

Now, that should have raised red flags for dad, who was on duty at the time, but he was so happy to avoid a naptime fight that he settled her in her room and went about his business.

No sounds came from her room so of course he assumed she was napping peacefully.

Some time later my little angel child appeared in her doorway.

She had clearly not been napping.

She was covered, literally from head to toe, with marker drawings of which she was visibly proud.

Daddy, shocked at the sight, could only manage to ask why she had done such a thing.

"I need 'toos for my monkey dance Saturday at Betty's," was her calm reply.

"Two's?" daddy repeated, confused.

"'toos," she said, pointing to her marks.

It was shortly after this exchange that I received a phone call at work from a frustrated husband.

Where and how she learned about tattoos is beyond me.

Her father and I certainly don't sport any body art although I know such decoration is not at all unusual these days.

What her 'monkey dance' could possibly be is also a mystery.

It is not something she learned in ballet, that much I know.

As for Betty, that's her day care provider who also has no tattoos and has never been known to sponsor a monkey dance.

After a 40-minute bath with lots of vigorous scrubbing, Sophie was clean again and the tattoo incident happily behind us.

Meanwhile, mommy has confiscated all markers.

But such incidents are rare and, for the most part, three has been a joy.

Not that Sophie thinks she's three, mind you.

Depending on the day and her mood, she will give various answers to questions about her age.

For a good two weeks she was eight.

No matter who asked, she insisted she was eight.

Any attempt to correct her answer was met with adamant rebuff.

"I am NOT three, I am eight!"

Then, with no warning, one day she was three again.

Then she was one, then 15.

Much of the fun of three, for me, is that I never know, from day to day, where her imagination will take her.

She puts a towel on her head and is transformed into "the princess." At such times I am required to address her as "my lady."

She daily introduces me to new (imaginary) friends.

I've now met Cassie, Kalika, Aria, Michael and a host of others.

Outside we spot dinosaurs and zoo animals roaming our neighborhood.

When none are present we lay on the grass, look up at the sky and find shapes in the clouds.

Sometimes, we just sit together, look at one another and laugh at nothing.

Three is good.