My dear Jack,
I woke up this morning to a sound that’s become all-too common in our household — you screaming at Charlie.
It was supposed to be Dad’s weekend morning to sleep in, but he gave me extra time in bed on account I’d been up for a few hours during the night with your brother.
At 2:30 a.m., Charlie woke up from a nightmare involving Iron Man, then his nose hurt, then he wanted warm honey water to ease a cough, then he needed answers to pressing questions like, “Do cats talk to each other but we can’t understand them?” and “How do people get blind?” and “Guess what toy in my room I like the best?” (Answer: A plasma light ball that Uncle Dan and Aunt Rhianna gave Charlie for Christmas)
I snoozed, and you and Dad had a calm morning — until Charlie stumbled out. I’m not sure what officially happened, but it was either a) Charlie touched something you were playing with, b) Charlie touched some part of your body, c) Charlie spoke words to you, or d) Charlie looked in your direction.
I know siblings don’t always get along (heck, Uncle Dan threw a dart INTO MY EYE when we were kids), but the incessant screeching drives me batty. You’re 2.5 years old — without the language to describe your emotions — so screaming is your first defense, followed increasingly by hitting. Part of me doesn’t blame you, as Charlie is a royal instigator who knows just how to push your buttons, but we can’t have you smacking him around. So, there’s been an increase in time-outs in our house.
When you use words to assert yourself, you repeat the phrases Dad and I speak when admonishing Charlie. But you say them in that sweet, I-can’t-pronounce-consonants-well toddler voice, so they sound darling: “You not powees!” (police) … “Top eet, Chwarwles!” (Stop it, Charles) … “You woos chips!” (lose)
You two don’t always fight. The other night, Dad and I sat on the couch for 20 minutes watching you and Charlie howl with laughter as you rocked back and forth on a fold-down chair. You love when Charlie chases you around and smacks your butt (Fun fact: That’s how your Dad scored me). Or when he reads to you. And you both share an extreme love for “Dinosaur Train.”
Your attitude toward Charlie illustrates your place in time, squarely in the Toddler Years. You bit one of your classmates twice in one week. We thought we were making headway on potty training, but you decided this didn’t interest you any more.
And one night you cried the entire way home from Target for no discernable reason (although I think the nap you avoided taking all day had something to do with it).
Yes, your emotional brain far outweighs your logical brain. I received a call from your Dad last night when I was out to dinner with Ash. “Can you please tell Jack that you’re OK? He’s hysterical.” Apparently, you saw my regular purse hanging in the kitchen and couldn’t understand how I could be somewhere without it and still be alive. Ash and I FaceTimed you outside of the restaurant so I could hold up the black purse I chose for the evening. Look, I’m alright, Jack. I have another purse!
You may fight with Charlie, but you’re always sweet to me. As you get older, I keep thinking you’ll grow out of wanting to hug, snuggle and nuzzle me. Thankfully, you still seem to need these times just as much as I do.
The other day, you wrapped your arms around my neck and held onto me for several minutes, without leaving. I took a moment to soak you in, feeling completely whole, completely happy.
Just this morning, when I finally made my way out to the living room, you gasped when you spotted me, jumped off the couch and ran into my arms. “Mommy!” Sometimes you wake up and your first words are, “I want cuddles!” (which I prefer to your second most common request: “Have iPad time?”)
On a preschool application we recently filled out, Dad and I were asked to describe your personality. I remember answering this question when Charlie began preschool, and I was struck by the difference. For Charlie, I used words such as strong-willed, opinionated, and passionate; my answers for you were gentle, loving, helpful.
In fact, “Me help you?” is one of your most frequent requests. Your eyes light up when the washing machine chimes, because you know you’ll get to help move the wet clothes into the dryer. Your favorite day of the week is Tuesday because that means we get to put out the garbage in the morning and wheel the cans back in at night.
You are such a bright light in my life, my dear boy. You help me feel centered and remind me to enjoy this time as your mother. And your zest for life is infectious. One morning a few weeks ago, you ran into the living room, looked around at the sun streaming through the windows, and cried out, “Oh boy! It’s morning!!!”
Now, that’s something we should scream about in this house more often.