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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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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One Response to Letters to Charlie: On Turning 4

  1. Barbara Crawford says:

    So beautiful.

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