Letters to Jack: On Turning Three

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My dear boy,

I apologize for writing this letter a few days late. October has been the busiest month for our family in recent memory — Dad has been traveling, I’ve begun editing the parent newsletter for Charlie’s school, and there seems to be non-stop soccer practices and games and birthday parties and other things we’ve promised to do.

But nothing could keep me from wishing you the happiest of birthdays, my dearest three-year-old. Sometimes my heart aches thinking about how quickly you and Charlie are growing up. And sometimes — usually when you’re fighting — I calculate the number of days until you’re both off to college (roughly 3,944 days for Charlie, 5,405 days for you).

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Actually, things have been better lately. You and your brother are slowly finding things to do together — building forts, chasing each other around the house, jumping on the bed, hiding in the hamper, and dancing with glowsticks in the dark alongside Dad and me.

The yelling is still a problem when Charlie makes you unhappy. Dad and I’ve had to speak with you several times about just how scared we get when you scream like someone is cutting off a limb. The encouraging news is that sometimes you yell this loud because you’re happy to be playing with your brother.

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There’ve been some momentous milestones in the past few months. You transitioned to a big-boy bed, which went smoothly. I wanted to keep you in the crib for as long as possible (#anxiousmom), but it was pretty clear you were ready the night I watched you scamper over the railing like a monkey and plop yourself into bed.

You were very excited to learn that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina. So happy, in fact, that you’ve been repeating it often: “Jack have penis….. Charlie have penis….. Daddy have penis….Mommy have nooooooo penis.” You called me into your room one night after bedtime just to verify if I had a “‘gina.” Yes, sweety. Go to bed.

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We’re inching forward on using the potty. You’re completely potty trained when naked, but there’s something that hasn’t clicked about underwear. You’ve asked a few times to wear underwear to school instead of a Pull-Up, but then you peed through the underwear and additional pairs. Your grandmas can usually convince you to pee on the potty once during the day, but that seems to be your cap for now.  Oh well, I’m not stressing. The new preschool you’re attending in January doesn’t require a potty-trained kid. You’ll get there.

Everything else about your life has to follow a strict order. At Grandma B’s school the other day, you refused to walk through the front gate when I opened it because that’s Grandma B’s job. She was busy with another student, so you stood there for several minutes completely unwilling to budge.

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You’re also obsessed with doing everything by yourself. I forgot how frustrating this stage of development can be — for toddlers and for me. Climbing into your car seat takes several excruciating minutes. If I try to help speed up the process, you thrash and wail and go limp, and there is no easy way to get a struggling child into a carseat. I’ve found it helpful to turn this torture into a game (“Let’s count up from 1 to see how fast you can get in!”). You also like when I sing the carseat song I made up for Charlie as a kid, to the tune of “Twist and Shout” (Come on, baby…let’s twist and plop….come on, baby, let’s twist and plop…..Climb into your carseat, and twist and plop).

You love singing the “ABC Song,” still. Dad and I went to a conference in September and every time we video chatted with you and Charlie, you started singing. But, when you messed up the letters, you had to go back to the beginning and start again (see above re: order).

Sometimes, you’re a grumpy morning person. When Dad or I creep into your room to wake you up, you yell, “Get… out…of my…. room!” You were sent to bed early one night for refusing to eat any dinner, so the famous three-year-old stubbornness is developing, too.

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You’re pretty smart about extending our bedtime routine, something we also experienced with your brother. When I get about 5/6ths done reading a book you’ve selected, you suddenly decide, “Not that book!,” and try to convince me to start another one. You ask for several hugs once the lights are out — and you’re usually successful with this strategy because mommies love hugs!!!

Speaking of books, you still enjoy them a lot. You’ve begun reciting stories out loud while turning the pages and pretending to read. In the car the other day, I heard your sweet voice from the back seat, saying, “Are you my mother?….No, I’m a COW!”

You’re so expressive. I love the way your face lights up when you see something exciting (“Wook! I see a pwane in duh sky!”) and the way it gets all scrunchy when you’re mad. At your family birthday party, I took video after video of you opening presents just because you were so ebullient about every gift. “It’s a diiiiiiiinooooosauuurrrr! Guys, a diiiiiiiinooooosauuurrrr!!!!

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The other day Dad remarked how easy it is to love you. It’s so true. You give your love freely and easily. You love getting and giving kisses and hugs. You softly rub my arm at bedtime when I’m singing to you. You hold my hand for no reason at all. You even enjoy housework! (“Oh, I’d wuv to, Mommy!,” you exclaim when I ask if you can help with laundry.)

This morning you woke up before the sun rose, so I snuck you into bed with me. We talked quietly in the dark, and every time I moved, you pulled my arm back so that I was holding you tight under the covers. I told you I loved you, and you burrowed deeper into my side.

My sweet boy. You and I may have only 5,405 days left until you’re off to college, but know this: For all those days — and all of the days that come after — you have my heart, and my arms will always be waiting for your hugs.

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One Response to Letters to Jack: On Turning Three

  1. Barbara Crawford says:

    Jeez, Jessica, is your writing this good because the boys are so independent that you have time on your hands? You have a great ability to pace and build a piece, and bring it to a conclusion, the way a composer handles the build to the final minutes of a symphony. Sign me up for your first book.

    >

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