Letters to Charlie: On Turning 4

_MG_1188My sweet boy,

It’s the little things that strike me.

You no longer need a step-stool to reach the sink. You used the word “meanwhile” correctly in a sentence. You know where the recycling bin is and what to put in it.

You are growing up, my son. You are now four years old.

My feelings about this are mixed. I am filled with wonderment and gratitude every day for the opportunity to see you grow and thrive. Yet, there’s a feeling of wistfulness, a tinge of sadness at what has already passed.


Perhaps I’m sensing this more because you have a little brother on the way. You are going to seem sooo big when that little guy arrives later this year. Although we are excited about adding this new member to our family, I am struck with a touch of heartache about losing some of our one-on-one time.

I think you’ll make a great big brother. You know so many things about the world, and every day brings new discoveries. You’ll be a fantastic teacher.

You’re so inquisitive already. When we told you a baby was on the way, you immediately asked, “But how did it start getting in there?” Taken aback, we offered a less-than-ideal/cliché answer that you immediately called us on. “But how did it get IN there?!” After a few rounds of this, I told you Daddy gave me a piece of himself and I mixed it with a piece of myself, and now a baby is growing.

BFF Ashleigh lent you a book called “How Babies Are Made” and now you can’t stop talking about sperm and uteruses. Especially in public.


You were NOT happy to find out the baby is a boy. In fact, you collapsed into tears when we told you. After assuring you it was OK to feel disappointed and that we empathized with you, I asked why you preferred a sister.

“Because,” you wailed. “I loooooooooove girls!”

My dear boy, I have a feeling you will be surrounded by girls your entire life. ;)

Just the other day in the grocery store, I heard “Charles!” and a little girl from your school darted from an aisle and into your arms. Your smile was grandiose.


Your school year is about to end. These days, we rarely have trouble getting you out the door and you seem to enjoy going. We have hit a few rough moments, though. One morning, you said, “I don’t want to go to my new school. I want to go back to Grandma B’s school, even if that means I am a baby and not a big boy.”

I understand, baby. It can be so hard to grow up.

Growing up also means facing some tough questions, for you and me. You’re asking a lot about death: will I die, will you die, will it hurt, etc. I am trying as hard as I can to answer these questions pragmatically, yet with comfort and love, but it’s difficult. Perhaps t would be easier if I had any religious faith. It’s hard to find the words. I don’t want to shield you from what I believe is the truth, but I also understand how that truth can feel.

It’s hard to find the balance between protecting you and letting you experience the world. I let you watch “Frozen” for the first time a few weeks back, thinking it would be fun. And it was fun, until I glanced over during the snow monster chase scene and tears were streaming down your face. Then the floodgates of fear opened.

I felt like an awful parent, exposing you to something so obviously scary before you were ready. We paused the movie, and I tried to explain reality vs. fantasy, but I don’t know how well a 4-year-old understands all that. I was incredibly proud when you grabbed a safety stuffed animal from the other room, brought it back with you to the couch, and asked to finish the movie. That’s my guy!

(On a side note, Grandma Z bought you a “Tales of King Arthur” book for your birthday. You squealed “Frozen!” when you saw the cover for the first time. LOL.)


You brought home your first “report card” the other day. It was the most fascinating, exciting thing I’ve ever read. You’ve mastered every skill under the verbal section, which is no surprise to anyone who’s heard your made-up stories. You definitely need to work on listening and following directions, however.

I was full of praise for this progress report. Dad, on the other hand, was a bit more reserved.

Dad: He did OK…. I mean, he got a lot of “satisfactorys.”
Me: But, Charles, he’s THREE!
Dad: Yeah, but he’s not being measured against Harvard grads! He’s being compared to other three-year-olds.
Me: Harrumph.
Dad (to you): I’m very proud of you Charlie, but there are some areas in which I think you could work harder.
Me: sigh
Dad: I want to set the bar early.


I had an awesome surprise a few months ago related to parenting. I received a comment that one of my YouTube videos of you was featured in a post on Psychology Today. A child psychologist chose eight videos of children exploring puddles and discussed what was special about each one. She was incredibly complimentary, at one point calling my parenting a “master class.” ::feels smug::

I really do hope I’m a good mother, Charlie. There are days I kick ass, and days when I just can’t “pretend to put the Christmas Cow to bed” another time.

I do know that I will try my best every day. You are so worth it.

Happy Birthday, my smart, compassionate, silly, curious, musical, active 4-year-old. May our next year be filled with more amazing adventures.



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Letters to Charlie: 3.75 years

IMG_8537Dear Charlie,

It’s midday on a Saturday. You just walked into the living room — abandoning your prized fire truck that squirts water out of the hose (thanks, Grandma Z!) — and asked, “Mom, can you put me to bed?” and now I think it must be snowing outside even though it’s in the mid-70s.

With you all snuggled in bed, we went back and forth making up a story about a little boy who had a dream about an adventurous penguin. Then I sang “Hakuna Makisses” and covered you with sweet smooches before I left.

Life = win.


First day of school.

In the past few months, you successfully transitioned to preschool. Dad dropped you off the first day because I was afraid I’d be a watery mess, and he said you walked in like a champ. Since then, you’ve been rocking it.

Getting you out in the mornings wasn’t so easy at first. When you attended Grandma B’s school, we could drop you off late, unfed and in PJs, and she’d take care of things. That’s not the case now, so you were suddenly faced with more responsibilities and expectations. That resulted into mornings of uncontrollable tears, tantrums, time-outs and punching/kicking.

Near the end of my rope, I begged for advice. Grandma B suggested we make a chart and reward you with stickers for every morning you kept your shit together and got stuff done in time (my words, not hers). Once you achieved a certain number of stickers, we could take you on a special adventure — something we wouldn’t otherwise do.


I’m happy to report this idea was brilliant. Mornings are so much smoother now, and we’ve had some really great adventures: a trip on the Coronado Ferry, a ride on the downtown historic trolley route, and a city-wide trolley romp. Next up, you’d like to ride on the train.


Speaking of trains, I was a chaperone for your first field trip, to the Train Museum. It was surreal because I remember Grandma Z joining my class trips and that doesn’t seem too long ago. You talked about the upcoming trip for weeks, and were pretty much jumping off the rails  the morning of.

My biggest takeaway from chaperoning was immense respect for your teachers. These two women — who face two dozen kids, on their own, every day — are goddesses. Even with a total of 10 adults on this field trip, it was HARD. Remind me to buy them Starbucks cards.


It was interesting to observe you among all the other kids. You are one of the youngest, but also one of the loudest most expressive. I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to my presence, but you were incredibly talkative, animated, and social compared with the others.  You were also not very interested in following the rules: you skirted the lines and refused to wait for the teachers before exploring more of the museum. At one point, you were reprimanded for purposely and loudly singing the wrong words to “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I have a feeling your future teachers will have their hands full with you, and shhhhhhhhhhh but that makes me feel a bit proud.

While you’ve adjusted to preschool very well, some parts are not so easy for me. Though you’re exposed to wonderful new knowledge, there are still things from which I desperately want to shelter you. A few weeks after you started school, you announced that when you grow up you want a “gun job” so you can “shoot old people.” After we explained the heavy responsibility that comes with gun possesion and the seriousness of shooting people, I asked where you learned of the concept.

“Martin Luther King,” you said. (Well, actually you said, “Martin Luther Cake,” which was awesome and hilarious, but let’s focus on the gun thing right now).

I am incredibly sensitive about guns and gun play, and I feel a rush of despair when you tell me that you play “shooting guns” with other kids on the playground.  And you’ve been asking questions about what it means to be killed and to die. This is probably not realistic, and “boys will be boys” whatever, but I don’t want you knowing about these things yet. You are only three years old! This all just feels so soon. 

You’ve also been bullied by a child who hits you, grabs your face, tells you that you’re “bad,” and threatens to kill you. How is it possible that we’re dealing with this in preschool?! 


Let’s stop talking about my neuroses and focus on some of the fun times we’ve had lately.

I’m not sure where you learned this, but out of the blue in the busy parking lot outside Corvette Diner, you grabbed my breasts (I was carrying you) and yelled “BOOOOOOOOOOOBS” at the top of your lungs. I tried to hold it together, but a giggle escaped, and then I was laughing so hard I almost peed. This made you laugh and then I laughed harder and then you realized that yelling “BOOOOOOOOOOBS” in public can get you attention. So that has been fun to deal with.


You had your first ear infection this month and your first encounter with bubble-gum flavored amoxycillian. I LOVED this stuff as a kid. You hated it, so much that you refused to swallow the medicine and threw desperation tantrums to avoid it. At one point, we had to force it down your throat. Then you threw up on my face. After that, I came up with a brilliant idea to let you use the turkey baster to take the medicine. You loved that. Problem solved. Point for me.


My favorite moment was discovering Dad’s umbrella in his car, opening it up, then dancing together underneath it in the rain, in the alley behind our house (of course, we sang “Singing in the Rain” while doing so). It was just one of those moments when time stood still, when the joy I feel at being your mother, and the joy we felt being together filled the entire universe.

You seem to inspire this joy in most everyone you meet — from your family, to your new teachers, to your classmates, to the grocery store check out lady. It’s quite incredible to witness and to know that you and I belong to one another.

Well, at least until you grow up and find someone else with, well, you know.


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Letters to Charlie: Month 43


My sweet Charlie,

We are only a few hours away from another major milestone in your life: your first day of preschool. Of course, this isn’t technically true, as you’ve been attending Grandma B’s Montessori preschool since you were 13 weeks old, but this feels different somehow. Tomorrow I will hand you over to a stranger’s care, and you will make your way in a new place.

I am nervous for you, as I imagine many parents are at this moment. Change causes you anxiety (::insert “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” cliche::), so we’ve decided to treat this first day like any other, meaning that Dad will drop you off and I will pick you up. I ache to think of you stepping into that unfamiliar classroom and watching Daddy walk out the door. What will you think? How will you feel? Will you cry for us? Will you think we abandoned you? Will you make friends? Will you know how to use your lunchbox?! 

Despite these worries, I know that you’ll not only survive, you’ll thrive. You are so ready for a more challenging environment. You need it. 


We visited your new classroom and teacher a few weeks back. She took you through a series of activities to, I imagine, gauge your abilities. And you fucking rocked it. Dad and I sat there, in too-small plastic chairs, grinning like idiots and feeling like we’d raised the smartest child in the history of this school. I was so mesmerized by how the teacher guided you, and how you responded to her, that I couldn’t think of any questions to ask when she — repeatedly — inquired if we had any. 

Afterward, Dad went back to work and I took you to a nearby diner where we drank vanilla milkshakes with rainbow sprinkles and played SkeeBall. It was the best. day. ever.


The holidays were pretty great, too. For Halloween, you informed us that you would be a duck, and Dad decided we would make your costume. It was probably more expensive than buying something online, but I’m proud of the final result. And you owned that thing; people asked what you were and you simply quacked back at them.


Thanksgiving was delayed a day because you were sick with some stomach bug that caused you to vomit a lot. Surprisingly, you felt it coming and chose to throw up in the toilet. (Forty months of not wanting ANYTHING to do with the potty, and now you use it for everything.)

Christmas was lovely. You made cookies and ornaments with Grandma Z. We made our annual gingerbread house at Grandma B’s. You pointed out every house with lights that we came across. We sang Christmas carols together (well, until you ordered me to stop). 


I emphasized Santa this year, so you knew something special was coming. When you woke up on Christmas morning and realized what day it was, your face lit up like it was…well…Christmas morning. We ran into the living room to see stuffed stockings and presents under the tree. Santa had made such a mess; rocks from the fireplace were strewn everywhere and he didn’t even bother to close the fireplace door!

Dad and I Santa got you your very own digital camera (waterproof and damage proof from three feet high!) because you’ve shown a great interest in using my way-too-expensive-for-your-slippery-fingers SLR. You’ve taken a lot of pictures of your nostrils.

New Year’s was once again at our house, which has become much too small for our friends and their growing families. It was so loud that you kept asking people when they were going to leave.  


So now it’s 2014. We’re heading into the new year full of hope and gratitude, mostly about and for you. 


Last week Grandma B wrote a letter to your new teacher regarding your development. I must have read it 15 times because it so perfectly captures your essence in a way that I couldn’t (gosh, it’s like she does this for a living or something). Here are some of my favorite passages:

“His curiosity is endless and he remains willing to satisfy it without thinking through the consequences, so he bears watching, and watching over. In practical terms, this means he will stack, fit, push, wrap, lick, and otherwise investigate the properties of whatever is around him after he has seen and experienced the way it ordinarily works. Nice young-scientist behavior, but somewhat challenging to deal with.”


“He will likely love practical life projects involving water, or big math work. Dance, jogging, climbing, building, balancing—these are active interests. He has had long periods of intense small motor development, of course, but his mom and dad are both active people; right now he often just must walk or run or climb or race.”

“Although he is intelligent and self-sufficient, funny and lively, he is also emotionally volatile. He can be anxious about changes, annoyed by affection, frustrated by group requirements. He has always been disinterested and unmotivated by the opinions of others.” (Editor’s Note: Emphasis is my own). 


“He participates only when he wants to, although with a daily requirement, he is fairly cooperative. He does not like to be touched unless he chooses it, does not seek approval, and would really like people to get out of his way when he has an idea, so he can just get on with it. He wants life on his terms.”

“This does not mean he avoids tickles or hugs—he loves them—but he absolutely must be in charge of when they occur and whom they are with. When crossed; when the task is, in his mind, too hard; when hungry or tired, he is capable of all kinds of outsized behaviors that nobody will enjoy.”

“When he cares to be, he is an automatic leader, vital and funny and interesting to be around.”


I know that you won’t remember your first day of preschool tomorrow, but know that I will be thinking of you every single moment. I feel excited that a whole new group of people get to meet you and become part of your creative, funny, stubborn, musical universe.

You are such a gift to this world, my love. Go forth and rock it. 


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Letters to Charlie: The Toddler Potty Training Edition


My dear Charlie,

It feels great to write this post, the mother of a boy who pees in the potty! I strut victoriously, as if this achievement wasn’t entirely yours to claim. Because, really, Charlie—you did it.

Here’s how it went down:

As you recall from my last post in September, your Dad and I stopped pushing the issue. You were more than ready physically, but your brain hadn’t quite caught up. Though I hated, hated, hated changing the diaper of a 40-pound, wriggling 3-1/2-year-old, we decided to give you more time.

Even the Grandmas—with 50+ years of experience between them of helping to potty train children—were stumped. You were defiant, adamant, EXPLOSIVE about not taking this step. I requested an observation by a behavioral therapist, fearing there was something much deeper behind your attitude.


Then in early October, Grandma B suggested pulling off the proverbial bandage. Being supportive, though passive, was obviously not working, and we were likely enabling your insurgency. Your Dad and I would try anything at this point, so we sent you to school in underwear for the first time, our fingers crossed.

You didn’t get it right away. In fact, you spent at least the first two weeks peeing your pants. You didn’t seem to mind at all, even when that meant you couldn’t play outside because your shoes were wet. You would just play inside today, thank you very much.


You also started acting mean. While stuck in traffic, you’d taunt me with the threat of peeing in your carseat. (I know there are critics who’d say 3 year olds can’t taunt, but they’re wrong, so very wrong.) I asked you to grab new underwear after you peed through your pants at home, only to later discover you’d opened a tube of Desitin and painted all over your clean pairs. “Now I can’t wear underwear, Mommy. Sor-ry!”

(Mommy took a Time Out with a glass of white wine after that one.)

At some point, we got you to pee your pants while standing inside the bathroom. At least this meant you weren’t getting the furniture or carpet wet. Then one day, I had the idea (a flash of brilliance, obvi) to let you hold a diaper against your body and pee into it while standing in the bathroom. Ashleigh and Savannah were over; Ash played some special “potty music” for you (I think it was a waterfall setting on a sleep app), and you were able to go.

For the next several days, that’s how you’d pee: walk into the bathroom, drop your pants, pick up a diaper, hold it against you, and go. You knew when you had to pee and you were able to let us know. We had few, if any, accidents. In fact, we started slowly cutting the diaper into smaller and smaller sections.


Then came your father’s flash of brilliance. You could continue peeing into the diaper, but you had to do it while standing right up against the toilet. And one day, he snatched the diaper away just as you started peeing, and it went straight into the potty. You peed in the potty (technically)!

Within a few days, you had no more need of a diaper. And on Halloween, you pooped in the potty for the first time! Just like that.


It’s amazing how this success has affected your attitude and behavior. It’s as if this one puzzle piece is in place, and now the rest of the picture is coming into focus.

Potty training was definitely one of the toughest challenges your Dad and I have experienced as parents. One of the longest, too—I think we started working on this after you turned 2. There were many moments when we faced one another, exasperated, out of ideas, conflicted about what was best for you.

Yet, we learned a lot about you through this process. My dear boy, you have a very healthy sense of self; no one is going to push you around. I’m not so worried about peer pressure as you get older.

And if kids get too pushy, just make sure you have a tube of Desitin on you.


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Letters to Charlie: 3 1/3 years

IMG_5973Oh my dear Charlie,

It’s been nearly three months since my last letter. Remember when I used to write to you every single month? Well, I didn’t have a rambunctious 3+-year-old to chase around then.

We just returned from the grocery store where you had two massive meltdowns. The first occurred because I didn’t park in the underground structure, where we usually park. The second came on after I chose the “15 items or fewer” aisle; you apparently wanted self-checkout.

In situations like this, all I can do is hug you. Logic has no place inside your emotional, misfiring brain. I bet these times are confusing and exhausting for you.

They can be confusing and exhausting for me, too. You’ll have a few days where things seem to be coming together, then — BAM! — you become inconsolable at the most (seemingly) random thing.


Other parts of your brain are growing great. Three-letter words are no problem for you, and you’ve successfully read several four- and five-letter words. You’re incredibly curious; you recently asked Grandma B how cell phones work and expressed confusion when you learned that “jazz” has two Zs. (Answer: No one really knows!)

The other day you called me an “anus.” I was pretty excited that you knew the correct term.

Your physical skills are stellar. We enrolled you in gymnastics (you pronounce it “ma-jastics”) because you like moving your body so much. I’ll admit that I felt a mixture of sadness and pride when I watched you head into the gym for the first time with Coach Jen and the other kids. You are such a big boy! And you love your class, during which you get 45 minutes to tumble and climb and balance and roll and swing and bounce on the trampoline (your favorite).


In calm moments, we work on your reasoning skills. Here’s a recent conversation we had in the car:

Charlie: That hill is stupid!
Me: Why?
Charlie: Because it is.
Me: Well, that’s not a good-enough reason. When you decide that you don’t like something, you should be able to explain why. 
Charlie: That hill is stupid….because it is too skinny.
Me: ………OK. That’s a reason….I’ll give you that.  

Amazingly, you willingly eat (some) fruits and vegetables. I about fell out of my chair at dinner one night when I asked if you wanted more ham or turkey, and you replied, “Salad!” You love when we pretend you are a leaf-eating moose having dinner with us.


We’re working on your manners, and you’re doing great! Recent examples: “Would you kindly get out of here, Mommy?”, “Would you please stop talking, Daddy?” And you’re as obstinate as ever. I told you to pick up a shirt you threw on the floor, and you responded with, “No! I don’t feel like it.”

Oh boy, your teenage years are going to be fun.

We’re still nowhere on the potty. We thought transitioning to pull-ups would help, but we keep hitting dead-ends. We’ve stopped pushing it. Though you are ready intellectually (I mean, you TELL us when you have to pee!), you are not ready emotionally. You’ve made it clear this is a decision you will make on your own. I just hope it happens before college.


Speaking of emotions, you are feeling increasingly sensitive about some things. You clap your hands over your ears any time you think there could be a loud noise (July Fourth was a challenge). We’re having trouble getting you to leave the house; you don’t want to go anywhere, and you often burst into tears at the suggestion. You shrink away from any kind of crowd.

We have a small house—with no backyard—so getting out is  key to our sanity. Your Dad and I are trying to make you feel safe, trying to give you some control over where we go and when. But sometimes in life, you’ve just got to go places!


You’ve had your first experience with death, and we had our first experience talking to you about it. Grandma Z’s beloved lab “Jersey” died a few weeks ago. The dog was my father’s before he died, so it was tough to see him go. Neither your Dad nor I are religious, and we wanted to give you the facts about what happened. We told you that Jersey had been old and that his organs stopped working. He was no longer alive; it was OK to miss him.

You spent a few days repeating what we told you, and we reiterated the information when you asked us to. Soon after, Grandma rescued “Buddy”—who you unsuccessfully tried to name “Nobo”—and you’ve been preoccupied with him. Still, I felt sad that you had to learn about death. I struggle with the concept as an adult (who doesn’t?), so my instinct was to protect you from the knowledge as long as possible. But I know that’s not beneficial or realistic.


In a few months your first cousin is going to be born. It will be incredible to watch you meet him.

You and I have shared some incredibly sweet times recently. Before bed on Tuesday, I kissed you on the forehead. “Thank you for a wonderful day, Charlie,” I whispered. You sighed contently and replied, “Thank you for a wonderful day, Mommy…..Thank you for a wonderful day, Daddy.”

The next morning you demanded “Kiss me! Hug me!” before Daddy drove you to school.

But my favorite moment came one day after school, when we were playing in Grandma B’s backyard. You threw your arms into the air, lifted your face to the sun, closed your eyes, and called out, “It’s a beautiful day!”

My dear sweet boy, may all of your days be filled with such joy and life.


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Letters to Charlie: On Turning Three


My sweet boy,

We’re squarely into June, which means you’re now a 3-year-old. Congratulations! We all made it.

I first want to thank you for your patience over the past several weeks. It’s been a time of change, as I simultaneously transitioned to a new job and finished school. Things are now settling down, but there were some weeks of uncertainty and stress. I’ll never forget how sweet you were one day that I felt overwhelmed and was crying. You put your head on me, snuggled close, and sweetly said, “I make you feel better, Mommy.”


There were a few other heart-melting moments recently. In the car you said, “I love you, Mommy,” for the first time unprompted. Ah man – I can still feel how good that felt. I radiated joy, love, and thankfulness.

Another night after reading “The Giving Tree” (which your dad jokes should be renamed “Call Your Mother”), you asked me to crawl in bed with you. I had just cried my eyes out over that book and was feeling uber emo, so agreed.

“Mommy, will you stay forever?” you asked. Happy sigh.


You’re showing some delicate emotions, too. At the pool, you panicked when our friends did cannonballs. At Savannah’s birthday party, you burst into tears when a lady bug balloon accidentally flew over the fence—not because you wanted it, you said, but because you were afraid for it. You sweet little guy.

Your 3rd birthday party was a much smaller affair than last year, when I had just discovered Pinterest. This year, amid a new job and school, I was more realistic. We gathered our closest family and friends and celebrated in Grandma Z’s backyard. It was the sweetest, smallest, fire-truck-themed affair ever (save for Jersey eating the birthday cake).

You became super self-conscious when we sang “Happy Birthday” and spazzed out, flapping your hands like a bird and making funny faces. It was kinda hilarious.


As I type this letter, you’re sitting next to me on the couch watching “Dinosaur Train.” You earned it for sitting on your new potty chair for 60 seconds without your diaper. Sigh. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten with potty training. In a few weeks, we’re going to transition to pull-ups during the day, just so you experience SOME kind of toilet-related change. We hope this transition will lend itself to the real potty transition faster.


Because, truthfully, we’re out of ideas. We think we pushed it too hard, too soon. Coupled with your incredible stubbornness, peeing in the potty is just out of the question for you. You refuse, you cry, you won’t stand being diaper-less for a second. It’s your safety blanket.

In order to attend your new school this winter, you must be potty trained. I want to be supportive and help you make the decision to use the potty for yourself, but I can’t help wanting to throw out all the diapers and just scream, DEAL WITH IT!

Your father says I’m obsessing over this. He’s probably right.


Perhaps this will be the year you pee in the potty. Perhaps you’ll be in college. The future is uncertain. The great news is that we get to experience it together.

Happy 3rd birthday, Charlie.


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Letters to Charlie: 35 1/3 months


My sweet boy,

I wrote to you last in mid-February, which simultaneously feels like a long time ago, and also yesterday. When you’re a parent, this happens with time.

I’ve been wanting to write this next letter for a while, but never seem to be in the right frame of mind. When you were first born, I’d type into my phone every thing I wanted to say in these letters, desperate not to forget anything. But running after an almost-3-year-old is much more work, and that list has remained static.

So for this letter, I’m  going to talk about stuff that’s bubbled to the surface. Mostly, the ever-present, ever-changing highs and lows that come with raising a toddler.


Right now, you’re taking your afternoon nap, thanks be. You didn’t take one yesterday, which meant that your behavior was a bit nightmarish by 7 p.m. You earned a royal time-out when you called me “stupid” at the dinner table;  you’d said the same to Grandma Z on Friday. You’ve learned that word has power, and you’re wielding it with fury.

The day leading up was picturesque. We spent the morning playing games, building towers, reading books, and drawing pictures. You read “cat” and “mama” when I wrote them on our white board. I felt so proud.

When Daddy woke up, we decided to spend the morning at the beach, where we built sandcastles, searched for crabs, and buried our feet. We ate deli sandwiches with pickles on the side, and I let you taste my root beer (you made a funny face). In the afternoon, you played on the floor of your room while Daddy listened to music and I read a book.


At one point, I looked up to see that you’d formed an entire city of car stuff. You were playing independently, talking to the toys, and completely engrossed in what you were doing. You looked so… grown up.

My little baby is now a boy, I said to myself. And I felt all the emotions. And I felt all the tears.

I ‘ll remember these times when you’re “having a ‘no’ day,” as we call it. Or when you say “I caaaaaan’t doooooo iiiit” before you’ve even tried something, in the longest drawn-out whine ever uttered in the history of toddlerdom. Or when you hit and scratch me. Sigh.


Some other happenings over the past few months:

• You not only have zero interest in the potty, you actively reject it. Your Dad and I tried to go cold turkey one weekend, allowing you to walk around in no diaper, encouraging you to pee anywhere but in the diaper, to see what would happen. This experiment will forever be known as Our Epic Fail for the pain, suffering, tears, stress, and crying it caused all of us.

You’re not ready, and we’ve decided to be more supportive. You are so counter-suggestive that we’ve come to realize  you’ll make the decision when you damn well want to. The more we push, the more you will most definitely push back. So, we speak in terms of “when you pee in the potty, it will be so great.”


• We lost you in a big hotel. Some miscommunication between your Dad and I, coupled with your ever-present desire to run, run, run, left us screaming your name in panic on the Mezzanine level of the downtown Hyatt. In milliseconds, you’d run past the looooong hallway of conference rooms and wedged yourself into the last doorway.

• We took you to Dana Point for an impromptu vacation over a long weekend. It was our first family trip, just the three of us, and was filled with great memories of playing in the pool, running on the grass at the park in front of our hotel, and exploring the harbor.  Then came the horrible dinner that concluded with you vomiting over everything. However, it led to Dad’s Yelp review of the restaurant, which will forever remain one of the BEST things he’s ever written.


• Daddy was wearing a tie one evening at Souplanation. “YOU ARE BARACK OBAMA!” you shouted.

• We’ve transitioned you to a toddler bed. One of the first nights, either Daddy or Grandma Z positioned you the wrong way and you fell out. Oops.


• Daddy and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and took you, as always, to the spot where we were married. The first year, you threw up, the second year you napped. This year, you rode your bike.

• We took you to the emergency room because you were breathing way too fast, like 80+ times per minute. You needed three breathing treatments of oxygen, steroids, and a take-home inhaler. Docs said a cold got into your lungs. I cried while holding you in that funny mask.


• Your favorite song on the radio is “Girl on Fire.” The other day in the car you said (very matter-of-factly), “Mommy, I want to scream and shout and let it all out.”

• Your favorite lullabies: “New Day,” “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” and the “Fire Truck Song.” 

• You can sorta write your name.


• Daddy invented a game called “Hug, Squeeze, Tickle,” which is really just a creative way to get cuddles from you.

• We’ve begun to play “I Spy” during the car ride home from school. You tend to “spy” the same crane, water tower, and bridges, but that’s OK.

• You like to play a game at Grandma B’s school called “Where’s Charlie?” It goes like this: you run behind the side of the house, then we say loudly, “Oh, WHERE’S Charlie? He was right here. Has anyone seen Charlie?” You spring out from behind the corner, and run into our arms, giggling.

• “Excuse me, birds. I want to say hi to you,” you said as we drove in traffic past some trees. Heart. Melting.

My dear boy, I can’t believe my next post will be for your third birthday.

You’ve grown exponentially, along with my heart.


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