My dearest boy,
I get a feeling when I know it’s time to write you a letter. It’s part wonder, part pride, part recognition that time is moving forward and you continue to grow.
The feeling struck me earlier this week at the end of your bath. While Charlie likes to hop out as soon as he can and seek out dessert, you always take time to clean up. One by one, you pick up each toy and place it along the edge of the tub. Then, you inspect your placement and inevitably move some objects to another spot. The bath is done only when you feel that everything is just where it should be.
This is such an interesting part of your personality, and it manifests in other ways. You don’t like to be naked, or when I’m not wearing pants, or when your shirt gets food on it and omg we have to change it IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS RESTAURANT RIGHT NOW (sorry, Boston Market).
I wonder how this trait will shape the man you will become. Maybe you’ll be a mathematician. Maybe you’ll always have a clean house. Maybe you’ll drive your partner crazy by adjusting all of the soup cans on grocery store shelves (callback to your Grandpa Z).
Whatever happens, I hope you always give me such great hugs. Although you’ve grown out of needing to touch me at all times, you still love to nestle into my lap with a cup of milk when you wake up in the morning. We cuddle by the front window and talk about the neighborhood outside.
A few months ago, right after settling down on the couch, you shouted, “I see fmeengo (flamingo)!” I pulled the curtain wider, thinking you were noticing my gorgeous, pink roses, only to discover a flock of plastic flamingos dotting our front yard. Apparently, someone (still don’t know who) donated to a high school cheer squad in order to “flock” our house overnight.
Though the birds only stayed for 24 hours, our gag in the morning has become opening the front curtains, looking out at the lawn and sadly remarking, “No fmeengos.”
Your language acquisition progresses. I surprised Dad with a special no-kid weekend over Father’s Day (ironic, I know), and I swear you were speaking more fluently when we returned after two days. You’re working hard on your pronunciation, too. Poon is slowly evolving into spoon, trut into truck, Jat to Jack. There are still occasions when I ask Charlie if he has any idea what you’re saying. Or I pretend to understand, like any good mother.
You’ve begun participating in our dinnertime tradition of naming what we we’re grateful for, or what made us happy during the day. “Jack, did you do anything fun at school?” … “I play trucks!” Or, “Jack, what did you do with Grandma Z today?” … “Lagooooon!”
My last letter focused on your Charlie-induced screaming fits. The yelling is still pretty prevalent in our house, but I have noticed you playing together more often. Usually a good chasing game will get you both laughing, without a meltdown. It’s still difficult when Charlie kicks you out of his room, or wants to play with one of his friends without you tagging behind. As a younger sibling, I know this will be a challenge throughout your childhood. Older brothers are just so cool.
I worry that some of Charlie’s big-kid habits are rubbing off on you. Just like Charlie, you ask if you can watch videos as soon as I pick you up from school. And I notice you use his vocal inflections more and more often — often when you’re telling me “NO!” Usually, your agreeable disposition finds a way through.
Recently, one of my friends rightly commented that having a toddler is an exercise in patience. Your quest for independence continues to blossom; you — and only you — have to do everything — climbing into the car, climbing out of the car, putting on your shoes, taking off your shoes, brushing your teeth, pushing the stroller (even as you hit walls, other people, etc.).
I wish this quest for autonomy carried over to potty training, which has still failed to launch. We’ve made slight progress, in that you’ve worn “big boy” Thomas the Train underwear around the house a few times (though you peed in them — and all over our couch). You’ve even asked if you could sit on the potty a few times. But that’s about as far as we’ve gotten.
I’m not sweating it. Maybe because you’re the second kid. Maybe because the new preschool we’ll be sending you to doesn’t require it. Either way, I’m pretty confident you won’t enroll in college in a diaper.
As an anxious mama, I have enough to worry about. So, instead, I will try to focus on our morning cuddles, our constant laughs, and the knowledge that with you, Dad, and Charlie in my life, everything is just where it should be.