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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One Response to Letters to Charlie: 3 1/3 years

  1. Pingback: Letters to Charlie: The Toddler Potty Training Edition | Hour 23

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