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My goodness, kid. Eighteen months. How did that happen? Well, it did, and here we are. And though you are the tiniest chronologically and physically of the Rowley sisters, there's no mistaking that you are big stuff. You want the world to know that you mean business. You have a voice, a loud and lovely one, and have developed an impressive restaurant/airplane/car scream. You are a climber, a jumper. You continue to be fearless. I love this about you.

You have more hair than your sisters did at this age; plenty for a perky little pony. You continue to collect words - real ones, you ones. You are adamant about what you like, and what you don't. You have learned to throw a mean tantrum, going limp, melting into the floor, mouth agape in a curdling and ever-efficient protest.

You adore your big sisters. And they, you. The problem, the gift, is that you are forever watching them, and I can see it in your eyes - an unfair, blazing baby blue - that you want to do all that they do. You have no use for being eighteen months; three years old, or better, five, would be much better. On the sidewalks, you want them to hold your hands and walk you places. When they run ahead, you chase behind, your little legs pumping, your arms swinging at your sides. And you aren't as fast as they are, yet, but you are fast. A little brute. A little beauty.

The last eighteen months have been interesting ones for me. I have struggled and I have thrived. I have experimented with change, change big and small, in an abiding effort to be the best mom I can be to you and your sisters. I have learned so much - about you, about me, about all of us - and the education continues. It always will.

Eighteen months, babe. I can't help but think back to that day a year and a half ago when you made your debut, a hearty little lady (funny that you were the biggest at birth and are now our petite dame). I remember holding you for the first time, and kissing your peach fuzz cheeks, whispering in your ear something I tell you all the time: I love you, little girl. I remember bringing you home, home to your sisters, to this family of ours, to this world that is your world. I remember staying up with you at night, riding your screams, reveling in your snuggles, feeding you, needing you. I remember noticing that Size 1 diapers no longer fit, then 2, then 3. One day soon, there will be no diapers, no pacifier, no crib, no tantrums. I imagine I will miss the tantrums too one day.

I can't help but look ahead. Eighteen months today. And tomorrow you will be eighteen years. Daddy is convinced that you will make us sweat; that you will look up to your sisters and do what they do even though you are years younger - even if that means liking boys and drinking beer. Part of me smiles at the thought of this and hopes he is right, that you will continue to be our sweet little rebel. I guess we have time to find out.

I know you are the third. I know you don't get our undivided attention. No, you get our very much divided attention, but please know - and I know you do - that we love you to tiny little pieces, that you are an integral and magnificent piece of our family puzzle. Without you and your blue eyes and neon spirit, we wouldn't be complete. Cliched, but you are too young to know about cliches.

I love you, sweet Basil. You are, and always will be, my littlest love.

If you have kids, how old are they now? Any memories of 18 months? 18 years? Do your younger kids look up to your older ones? Did you look up to, and imitate, your older siblings? Any experience with, or sage advice with respect to, tantrums?

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