Letters to Jack: Month 8

_MG_2343Hey there, Jack,

As I write this, I can hear the sweet, sweet sound of sleep training. You’re not a fan.

I know Dad and I are to blame for being in this situation. When you first joined our family, it was much easier to bounce or nurse you to sleep. We just had so much to do every night – put Charlie to bed, make his lunch, clean up dinner, wash dishes, feed and water the cats, pump, and get to bed at a reasonable time because you’re still not completely sleeping through the night.

But now you’re eight months old, and it’s a bit out of hand. So, in the past few weeks, we’ve been trying to put you in the crib drowsy and let you drift to sleep on your own.

Woe is you, and woe is our family, for you scream and wail, you fight and thrash. We do frequent check-ins for comfort, but that hasn’t really worked. We were successful only one night, but that was because right after we put you to bed Charlie threw up and I shattered a wine glass on my foot. I bet you heard all the shenanigans and thought, “What a crazy family. I’m out.”

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Even after you’ve fallen asleep, we aren’t out of the woods. You’ve always been such a light sleeper; now, I can’t even check on you. If you so much as sense the door opening, you bolt upright, eyes wide. You’ve learned to shake your head, so that’s the first thing you do in the dark, as if to say, “Oh no you don’t even think about leaving me.” If I try to exit quickly, the wailing begins anew.

You’ve mastered crawling; now you’re trying to scale things. Your head is still GIANT, so you’re banging into a lot of things and getting bruises (I may have Googled “hematoma” today). Grandma B was considering a soft helmet for you to wear at her school during the day. Poor thing.

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I think you know your name; at least, you look at us 60 percent of the time we say “Jack.” You’re talking more, starting to form buhs and duhs. You babble and squeal. You love standing up and pumping those legs. You love wrapping yourself in our curtains. Last weekend, you and I sat in a sunbeam and played an uh-oh game that involved a purple cube, the insuppressible force of gravity, and lots of laughter.

I think your favorite place in the universe is the bath with Charlie. Not only do you get to splash in water – OMG WATER – but you get to play with your silly, animated, big, best brother.

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Your first word will probably be “cat.” You go crazy when you see them, and poor Baron has lost several clumps of hair to your ninja grabs.

Changing your diaper is the best. Is that weird? It was always such a battle with Charlie, so I appreciate getting to nuzzle and cuddle and tickle you. You laugh uproariously when I nom-nom-nom on your tummy.

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You turned eight months just a few days before a really cool thing happened in our country — the Supreme Court voted that same-sex couples have the same right to marry as everyone else (duh).

You’ll probably grow up amazed there was a time when this wasn’t allowed, but for a very long time that was true. It’s been wonderful to see so many people celebrate this great news. I am thankful you and your brother will grow up in a society where you can marry whoever you want.

As long as I approve, of course.

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Letters to Charlie: On Turning 5

CV_collageWow, Charlie. You are five. FIVE!

It was clear this morning you’re becoming an older kid. Within 20 minutes of waking up, you’d already told me to stop mentioning it was your birthday. “Mom, it’s ANNOOOOOYING.”

Zip it. I gave you life.

Last night, Dad and I went to parent orientation for kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN. I’m excited for you to start this next chapter of your life; you’re so ready for it. (I’m also thrilled Dad and I no longer have to commute up to 45 minutes each way to your current school. If I have to listen to “AstroPup and the Bird Fight” one more time…).

We took a bike ride (not technically true; you refuse to have pedals, so we took a bike push) to your new school a few weekends ago. While watching some big kids play, you curled into my lap. It struck me that this is the place you’ll probably decide you shouldn’t do that anymore. (Cue tears)

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You’re heading into kindergarten knowing how to read, how to write, how to count by fours and fives up to 100 by memory, how to read fractions. You can put on your clothes, brush your teeth, get water from the refrigerator, read speed-limit signs, and cross the street after looking both ways. You almost don’t need us anymore!

Your recent report card was just stellar, a huge turnaround from the winter. At our parent-teacher conference this week, your teacher said how bright you are, how quickly you catch on to concepts, how much you like to participate in class. Things seemed to have settled for you once we got comfortable in our new house and used to having Baby Jack around. I’m so happy you are thriving.

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You can still be pretty dramatic, though. Case in point: You love to tell stories on the way home from school, and while I’m a huge fan of story time, sometimes I can’t muster the mental fortitude during our long commute — especially because your stories inevitably come back to Batman, R2D2, or Anakin Skywalker and his ship.

One ride home after a long day at work, I told you I just couldn’t do it.

You sighed, sadly.

“Right now, my heart is empty…..but if we tell a story it will be filled with love.”

Please, someone, inform the Academy about this kid.

One morning, when I was late for work, we had an argument about eating a bite of Kix Cereal that Dad prepared for you. You agreed to try it (we have the “two-bite rule” in our house), but only dry pieces from the box. When you asked for milk with them, I dipped the spoon into the already-poured cereal bowl and offered it to you. You turned your face, raised your chin, and said, snootily, “Fresh milk, please — from the refrigerator.”

That’s when I walked away.

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You recently told me, “Mom….our new house is 100 times bigger than our old house!” While, that’s not technically true, I know what you mean. You have space to play here. You run around the backyard, kick balls on the grass, jump on the tree swing. You went to a neighborhood kid’s house to jump on her trampoline last weekend.

FOR AN HOUR.

Me to Dad: “Well, that’s worth the cost of our house right there!”

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You are still a fantastic big brother for Baby Jack. I took both of you for shots recently; Jack for his six-month vaccinations, you for your kindergarten ones. You offered to go first so Jack could see “how to be brave.” We sat next to each other on the exam table; Jack in one of my arms, the other wrapped around your shoulders. When the needles went in, you whimpered, but never cried out. “It’s OK, it’s OK, I’m OK, Jack,” you said, comfortingly, when it was over. Then you held onto him while he got his shots. (Cue tears)

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One of my friends (shout-out to Krystal!) recently pointed out that I’m kind of emo. It’s really true. I’ve always felt the magnitude of being your mother, but reaching these “big-kid” milestones seems to make my heart grow and grow and grow.

Perhaps it’s because I believe these years will be the best of my life. A few weekends ago, I was listening to music while making pancakes. Jack was bouncing on my hip, and you were coloring on the kitchen table. Unprompted, you got up, walked into the kitchen, and wrapped your arms around my legs.

The song playing was “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and while I’m not the religious type, I believed it.

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Letters to Jack: Month 7

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Sweet, sweet boy,

You are seven months old now, which means we’ve lived in our new house for three months and you still don’t have a light in your room.

This just shows how busy we are as a family of four (plus two cats). I’ve been trying to finish this post for three days.

Earlier, I fed you prunes for the first time. You loved them! It took you a while to figure out this solid-food thing, though. And I’m not convinced you’re completely there. Sometimes, I’ll bring the spoon to your mouth and you just stare at it, expecting it to perform or something. Other times, I get the spoon into your mouth, start to pull it out, then you lunge toward it, spilling half of the spoonful and making me panic that I’ve jabbed your tonsils.

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You’ve been cranky the past few days, which is very unlike you. Twice, something about the carseat triggered unattributable squalling fits. The kind of crying that communicates, “I’m hurt. Something is wrong. Help me.” There are few sounds worse to experience, despite the fact that I can rationalize my need to soothe as biological programming.

I pulled off the freeway during one of these fits, convinced I’d pinched your skin in the buckle or something equally terrible. But nothing was visibly wrong, and Charlie was with us, and it was getting dark, so I decided it was best to just make it home.

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You were still a mess when we got home, so I thought nursing might help calm you down. It worked in Yosemite, though back then we’d already begun limiting nursing to only once a day –  in the dead of night when you were too tired to remember you have teeth. I was especially hopeful this impromptu nursing session would work a second time because I’d been struggling with a painful clogged duct that the pump couldn’t get out.

So, you bit me. I cried out, but gritted my teeth. This was just a bit of pain, I told myself. You’d settle down now, start nursing, and relieve the GD clog.

Then you chomped down like a pit bull and wouldn’t let go. My screaming was louder, longer. Dad ran to grab you. I stumbled to the bath, filled it with a few inches of warm water, laid naked on my side, in the fetal position, and cried.

I would have stayed there feeling sorry for myself, but Charlie came loping into the bathroom and sat on the toilet bowl next to the tub with a video game, like there wasn’t anything strange about the situation at all.

So, I got up and got on with it.

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You’re getting on with it, too – if by it, I mean crawling. You finally mastered sitting up, so you’re moving on to elbow crawls. We have to be more vigilant about what gets left on the floors. I covered all of the sockets last week after I discovered you’d booked it across the living room and were trying to electrocute yourself.

You’ve started crying when we take things away from you, like that sharp fork I left lying on top of a plate on the floor (see above re: not leaving shit around).

You’ve discovered your hands. Sometimes I find you waving to yourself with a look of complete awe on your face. You’ve also discovered your penis, which you grab during diaper changes, then burst out laughing. I know, it’s pretty silly.

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Although we’re running ragged these days, you remind me every morning to cherish the time. When I walk into your room, your two-tooth, beaming smile says, “Today is just the best day, isn’t it?” You squeal when the cats come in the room. Or when you see one of your Grandmas. Or if you get to spend time in the bouncy seat. Or if it’s Wednesday.

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I had the perfect Mother’s Day. We went with Dad and Charlie to the trampoline park. You and I snuggled as I softly bounced you on one of the trampolines. Dad sat nearby reading a book. Your eyes began to droop. Once you fell asleep, I stayed bouncing with you, warm in my arms, as I watched Charlie launch himself into the foam pit over and over again, laughing.

I was filled with grace and gratitude. There is something about you and your brother — together, with me — that just makes me feel whole.

You are my boys, you will always be my boys.

How in the world did I get so lucky?

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Letters to Jack: Month 6

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Hello there, my little peanut.

In recognition of turning a half-year old (oh, where did the time go!), I thought I’d share some numbers that are important in your world.

2: Teeth

I felt the first one poking through the night before we left on our trip to Yosemite (more on that later). Two nights later, it was coming up fast, and I think all of the Sierra Nevadas (Sierras Nevada?) knew you were teething. The second one popped through this week.

Yesterday, you bit my nipple twice while nursing, and, no, I will never forgive you.

18: Seconds you’ve sat unassisted before flopping over

Sitting is for suckers. You want to be standing. I bet you’d walk if you could.

0.5: Length of the longest strand of your hair, in inches.

When is that stuff going to come in, fuzzy head?

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3: Times I got up each night to turn you over from sleeping on your tummy.

In the last month you decided you were a stomach baby. The problem was that you were able to roll onto your stomach while swaddled, but you couldn’t roll back.

We started putting you to bed unswaddled. And, even though the Internet told me it was much safer for you to sleep on your stomach now that you could roll back and forth, and even though we have the AngelCare monitor, I was still nervous.

Turning you back over in the middle of the night lasted about a week, until you began waking up each time I did it, and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Now you roll over onto your stomach the second we put you in bed, and we leave you there, butt crunched up in the air, off to snooze land.

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0: Times you cry in the car

This is only significant for me. At this age, your brother began screaming as soon as I opened the car door. You? You love the car. You chill out like the chillest dude ever.

1: Road trips 

Speaking of the car, this past month we gathered up your brother and Grandma Barbara and headed north. Though we had to stop every 90 minutes or so to feed you, we eventually made it to the ranch/home of your great uncle and aunt in Central California. You met your first horse, slept with all of us in a trailer, woke up to the sound of roosters crowing, and went on a house boat.

Then we journeyed to Yosemite to scatter the ashes of your Papa and further honor the wonderfulness that was him. My dear boy, you won’t remember this trip, of course, but maybe a part of you will always carry with you how it felt. In life, your Papa always gave of himself, and he has continued to give through his passing. Our time with one another was full of love and laughter, of tears and togetherness. It was a trip to remind ourselves why family is the most important thing.

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It was also filled with snow. We realized the day before we left that a big storm would be hitting Yosemite while we were there. Being from San Diego, we had nothing that was appropriate for you.  So we winged it. Hope you weren’t too cold.

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5,000: Times you smile a day

Jack, you may be the happiest baby in the history of babies. This still amazes me because you squalled THE ENTIRE FIRST TWO MONTHS OF YOUR LIFE. But, it’s true!

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You beam at strangers, you beam at your grandmas, you beam at the cats, you beam at the birds flying past the window. You giggle each time we change your diaper, every time we nuzzle your neck. When Dad or I walk in a room, you spaz out with legs and arms and squeals flying everywhere.

But all this is nothing compared with how you look at Charlie. To you, he is everything. The most interesting thing on the planet. The one to adore.

My heart swells at this growing relationship. I’ll try to remember it when you’re screaming at each other over Legos in a few years. I hope you do, too.

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Letters to Jack: Month 5

IMG_1954My dear chubsicle,

I’m writing this letter from our new house. OUR NEW HOUSE! We did it, we somehow moved in the day before I went back to work. (PSA: Don’t do that.)

We’ve been here about a month, and we’re still living in boxes. Your room doesn’t even have a light in it yet. I’m told we have time to unpack, as I plan to NEVER MOVE AGAIN, but my Type-A personality hates the disorder.

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Speaking of your room, this month you transitioned to sleeping there and not inches from my bed. When we moved in – and pretty much the day after I returned to work – you began your four-month sleep regression, meaning you were suddenly up four times a night. So there was no chance of you leaving the bassinet.

But when that ended I begged your Dad to get your room set up. I needed some air. I needed my own space again.

So, of course I burst into tears the first night we put you in your crib. How could you be leaving me? How am I going to sleep with you so far away? Why are you growing up so quickly? I even raised the issue of having a third child and the look your father gave me was equal parts terror and OH HELL NO.

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You are mastering the roll over, both front-to-back and back-to-front. Sometimes, you roll onto your stomach and can’t get back and then scream accusingly at us. The other day, I set you on the carpet next to me while playing Uno with Charlie, and when I turned back, you were several feet away trying to stuff a Lego into your mouth. So, that’s begun, too.

You’re not interested in sitting. For you, it’s about standing tall and beefing up those beefy legs. I try wiggling you into a sitting position and you have no idea what to do. Your legs lock, you throw your whole body backward and plank.

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Now that I’m back at work, you’ve started at Grandma B’s school, where Charlie also attended. You seem to be having a great time. Grandma joked that the kids should write you a book called “Toes for Dessert,” because you always seem to be chomping on yours.

On Fridays, you get special one-on-one time with Grandma Z, who sends me photos and videos of your adventures, on the 15 minutes.

You were stung by a bee at school. It landed on your chest outside, and when you looked down to see what was tickling you, it attacked. Dad picked you up from school that day, so I didn’t hear about this until hours later when I noticed a puffy, red spot on your chest.  “Oh, he got stung by a bee,” said your Dad, LIKE IT WAS NO BIG DEAL. When I finished hyperventilating, he explained that you cried for a few seconds, then were chill. I’m relieved you’re not allergic.

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However, you seem to be allergic to my boobs. I can only nurse you right when you wake up or right before bed. Otherwise, it’s Scream Your Face Off City. We were at a party this weekend and all I hoped was that you’d nurse so I wouldn’t have to pump, then feed you WHAT I JUST PUMPED. No luck. #feelingrejected

This nursing challenge, along with returning to work, has led to a few tearful moments of, “That’s it! I’m quitting. Breastmilk out!” Finding ample time to pump is harder at this job. And when I do have the time, my supply is terrible. Why do I even bother?

Then something comes along to remind me why this work is so important. Last weekend it was the urgent care doctor who diagnosed your brother with strep throat. When I told him I was worried about you picking up the infection, he asked whether I was getting any breastmilk into you. “Then he’ll be fine,” the doc said.

FINE.

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I have two favorite things about you right now. The first is how often — and with how much verve — you kick and pump your legs when you’re happy. I’ll walk into the room and your whole body goes crazy. In the bath, you kick kick kick kick kick nonstop. Maybe you’ll be a swimmer.

The second is how, right before you fall asleep, you bury your head into my chest. I know the moment after you do this your eyes will start to close. There is nothing like this, nothing like the feeling that I’ve made you feel so comfortable and so safe that you drift off to sleep in my arms.

Man, I love you.

We have a great month ahead of us. I’m hoping that you begin to sit more, and maybe pop out your first tooth. Plus, we have your first vacation to experience.

Off we go!

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Letters to Jack: Month 4

IMG_1814My dear Jack,

Tomorrow, on the day you turn four months old, we’ll be moving into our new house. You’ll have no memory of this place we’ve called home for the last six years – the home to which we brought both you and your brother from the hospital.

Though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this house, I won’t be sad to say goodbye to parts of this past month. You suffered your first cold and IT. WAS. AWFUL. I knew it was only a matter of time – on account of your brother being a cesspool of preschool germs – but I didn’t expect it to be so bad.

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The sniffles started on a Tuesday. Within a day, the cold had destroyed your voice box, so when you tried to cry, it came out as a high-pitched, barely-there whine. Soon, I was convinced you were struggling to breathe. I brought you to Urgent Care on Thursday, where they took your temperature (slight fever), tested you for the flu (negative), and said you had a bad cold that would go away on its own. (I have a funny story about our trip to Urgent Care, but I’ll get to that in a bit). In the meantime, Children’s Tylenol would help.

It didn’t. You got worse and worse. By Saturday, I was hysterical on the phone with your Dad, forcing him to come home from Lowe’s because I thought you were suffocating. Later that day, your fever spiked to above 102 degrees.

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So sick. :(

I called the after-hours line for our medical group, and explained your symptoms to the nurse. She told us to head to the ER.

Grandma B met us at the children’s hospital and took your brother. Then we spent the next four hours in the ER, which has got to be one of the lowest circles of hell. Imagine several dozen sickly children, their frightened/frustrated parents, and overburdened (though wonderful) medical staff – all shoved into one tiny waiting room. At dinner time.

At one point, a father became belligerent because the nurses wouldn’t/couldn’t immediately help his teenage daughter, who’d broken her arm and was crying in pain. Poor thing. He began screaming, dropping “F” bombs, and generally scaring everyone. I was equal parts empathetic toward him (no parent can stand when their babies are hurt, after all) and also pissed.

Guy, get your shit together. My infant CAN’T BREATHE.

You were diagnosed with bronchiolitis. A respiratory therapist put tubes up your nose and down your throat to suck out some of the congestion from your lungs. Dad held you down while I wrapped my arms around his waist and buried my face into his back. I couldn’t watch; the sound of your cry was excruciating enough.

You seemed to breathe easier after that. When your fever dropped, we were sent home with good tidings and instructions to buy the Nose Frida, which is suuuuuuuuper disgusting, but also incredibly effective. By Monday, you were on the mend.

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Back to my story about Urgent Care. While being examined, you let loose a loud, impressive poop that lasted 30 solid seconds. The doctor and I shared a glance and laughed. Ha ha ha – oh babies! They’re so funny!

The joke was on me, because when I went to grab a diaper and wipes out of my bag, I realized Grandma B had taken ALL OF THEM OUT when you stayed with her the day before. And, of course, the doctor’s office didn’t have anything lying around, though they did offer me cleaning wipes. Uh, no thanks.

Having no other option, I busted out my ninja skills and fashioned a diaper out of a medical sheet. I rule.

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This month, you really became alive. You began to recognize me, or at least to show that you recognize me. Our eyes will lock and you’ll beam, squeal, thump your legs, and gaze at me with what must be love.  Or gas.

You’re learning to giggle. Right now, it just sounds like my reaction to your Dad thinking he’s told a funny joke.

You’re still sleeping with your eyes slightly open, WHICH IS FREAKY.

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You are 100 percent asleep here. FREAKY!

Your favorite place in the universe is the changing table. You can be bawling like the world is ending. We plop you down on the pad, then oooooooh, look at the pretty window. It’s magic.

I can’t even think about leaving you there unattended anymore; yesterday, you rolled over for the first time! You were with Grandma B, doing some tummy time, when you threw your head back and the rest of your body followed. Well done!

You’re trying really hard to fit your entire hand in your mouth. The other morning while Charlie was eating breakfast before school, I rhetorically asked what you felt like packing that day. “His fist?” Charlie said.

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My sweet boy, I’m only days from maternity leave ending, and my emotions are scattered. While I’m incredibly excited to return to work, I will miss our one-on-one, uninterrupted time.

This past week, I’ve stolen special moments with you – far from the packing that needed to be done, or the dinner that needed to be made. I let you nap snugly in my arms, instead of putting you in the crib. We spent a few extra minutes splashing in the bath, during which there was a moment I could’ve sworn you were the most loved baby that ever lived (along with Charlie, of course). I’ve inhaled your scent, and the smell of your sweet baby breath.

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When “I See the Light” from Tangled came on my iPhone, we slow danced in our living room. I fast-forwarded to us dancing on your wedding day, a grown man, far from the tiny baby of today, and I began to cry.

It just goes so fast. I look at your brother, who’s almost FIVE, and I just can’t believe it. In no time at all, I’ll be saying the same thing about you.

But I didn’t become a mother to stay frozen in time. The real joy comes from being alongside you every day as you grow, learn new things, and discover all the wonderfuls about this life.

Thank you for letting me be here for the ride.

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Letters to Charlie: Four and Three-Quarters

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Hey there, my little man,

I should be packing. In a few days we’ll be moving into our new home. It’s larger than this place, where you’ve lived your entire life. There, you’ll have your own room, a backyard to run through, and children in the neighborhood to play with. I can’t wait.

I hope the extra space will be good for you, good for our family. We’re practically on top of each other here. Dad and I have nowhere to hide.

#jokingnotjoking

You see, Charlie, being a parent is tough. And throwing another baby into the mix has definitely made things more chaotic. So, it’s understandable these past few months have been filled both with exhausting challenges and moments of pure bliss.

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Let’s talk about school. Your report card from the fall semester was mixed. In short, you’re super smart, but your behavior needs work. Take this week, for example. You used the word “duplicate” correctly in a sentence, but also BIT a classmate and drew on the cabinets with a pencil. Twice.

There wasn’t anything in the report card we didn’t know or expect; your impulse has always been to do what you want when you want – to hell with authority. Out of 14 behavioral categories, you received one “good,” seven “satisfactorys” and the remainder “needs improvement.” Here’s what your teacher had to say:

Charles has made progress in all of the curriculum. He stays busy during work time, but not with materials that challenge him. Charles is easily distracted. If an exercise is the least bit difficult, he will not attempt to complete it. Charles relies on help to perform tasks. We are working on following through verbal directions. 

Charles’ very social nature requires consistent teacher redirection and correction. Charles often cries when corrected by his teacher and seems to resent this. He likes for things to go his way. He can become uncomfortable about taking responsibility for his choices. We are helping Charles to cope with situations without becoming overly upset over minor affronts. 

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Your teachers have started a sticker reward system similar to the chip program we’re doing at home. At the end of the day, you and a teacher discuss the day and decide together whether you’ve earned a sticker. When you get five in a row, you can spend your Target gift card, and I agreed to buy you a Batman shirt (you’re really into Batman these days).

We’ve yet to see three days in a row, but I can tell you’re trying.

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After a series of particularly bad days as school, I half-jokingly asked one of your teachers if they were ready to throw in the towel. She smiled and shook her head. “Charles is a handful, but everyone here loves him. There’s just something about him.”

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I saw that “something” during your Christmas program at school. When it was their turn to perform something solo, your classmates walked purposefully and calmly to the front of the stage. When you went to recite “Winter Moon” by Langston Hughes, you sauntered on all fours – LIKE A GORILLA – to the front of the room and lined up your feet just so before beginning to speak. Afterward, you threw yourself into your seat with an “uggghhhh” as if you’d finished running an exhausted mile.

Goofball.

Lately, you’ve shown us how clever you are. I came upstairs one morning to catch you stealing chips and putting them in your chip bank. When I asked why, you responded, “Because it’s faster!”

I found toothpaste smeared all over the bathroom. You blamed the cat. I told you the cat doesn’t have opposable thumbs so couldn’t have squeezed out the toothpaste.  You responded, “He must have stepped on it.”

Out of the blue on Christmas Eve, you asked Dad whether Santa was real. You told him you were confused you never see Santa in real life. That same night, you asked whether people are reborn when they die.

OMG, Charlie. You are only four! Thankfully, you showed your age when you exclaimed, “My fart just sounded like the cats vomiting.”

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You’ve always been a sensitive child, with your feelings right on the surface. I didn’t realize how much you struggle with this until we went to a birthday party with other kids your age. Poor guy, you pretty much cried the entire time. Someone fell on you while chasing after a Frisbee, and you never quite regained control. At one point you burst into tears surrounded by all your classmates and their parents because someone had thrown away your plate with half-eaten pizza on it. It took at least 10 minutes to calm you down.

I’d given Dad the afternoon off, thinking you would be occupied with your friends while I cared for Jack. Instead, I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to comfort you while juggling Jack, who, of course, decided to be fussy. At one point, another mom who saw me struggling took Jack so that I could be with you.

Dad and I are working hard to teach you emotional management skills, but it’s tough. Your first instinct is always to cry, or hit, or kick, or bite (sorry, Max).

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That being said, I can tell how caring and loving you are. Driving home from school, I often glance in the rearview mirror to see you holding Jack’s hand. Recently at the grocery store, you asked to get flowers for Dad and a balloon for you. I told you we could only take one home. Though you clutched the balloon through the entire store, you asked to keep the flowers for Dad (I let you take home both).

You are such a big kid, getting close to five. You tried to climb into my lap the other night during story time and I couldn’t hold on to all of your long limbs.

Still, there are times you still seem so small, so new.

A few nights ago, you had a bad case of croup. You’d woken up in the middle of the night and coughed so hard you puked all over everything. Afterward, I settled next to you in your bunk bed, feeling your body relax as you fell back to sleep. I couldn’t help but cry.

I know there will come a time when I can’t lie next to you in the dark of night, rubbing your back. When my presence alone won’t be enough to comfort you when you’re sick.

That day is coming fast; just yesterday I kissed your cheek and you rubbed it off.

Until then, my son, I will take every opportunity to snuggle close to you and be grateful that I get to be your mom – biting and all.

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