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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3 Responses to Letters to Charlie: Month 43

  1. Barbara Crawford says:

    Beautiful. Tears in my eyes now.

  2. Paul says:

    This is beautiful. Jess. I love reading these.

  3. Jodie says:

    Gosh Jess, his expressions (especially with his eyes) look like you exactly. So awesome.

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