Letters to Jack: 3.5 Years

My dear, sweet boy,

I don’t know why, but you are so incredibly scrumptious right now. Getting you dressed for bed tonight, I couldn’t stop giving you all the kisses and nuzzles, hugs and tickles. I’m a little obsessed with you these days, charmed by your easy hugs and bright smile and the fact that you still pronounce “little” as “whittle.”

You’re at the crossroads of toddler and little kid, and I think my brain is trying to hold on to every sweet moment.

Your teachers are desperately enamored with you, too. Each time I drop you off or pick you up, one of them exudes her love of your effusive personality, your adorable vocabulary, your gentle affection. One teacher said she wishes her future grandchildren will be like you (she’s the one who nicknamed you “handsome”). Even the parents of your schoolmates seem excited to see you; they all know your name, whereas I can name maybe four kids in your class, on a good day.

Preschool is going very well. My hangups about the classroom have mostly dissipated. You’ve made friends. You come home happy and healthy, even if you groan all morning about not wanting to go to school (who knew complaining started this early?). And the whole pooping-in-the-potty thing finally clicked. One day about six weeks ago you woke up and — poof — you were a kid who pooped in the potty. Now our big battle is getting you to pee more frequently so you don’t find yourself at DEFCON 1 so often.

I can tell you’re learning so much at school — in English and in Mandarin! I was practicing Mandarin on Duolingo the other day (decided I should learn some basics about the language to keep up with you), and you said, “zài jiàn? — that’s goodbye!” For the past several days, you’ve been singing a song about a radish. You tell me it’s not in Mandarin,  “It’s just bá luó bo!”

Charlie and you are getting along better. Shall I dare acknowledge there is sometimes laughter in the house between you two? I give credit to Dad, who devised a brilliant challenge for Charlie’s upcoming 8th birthday that’s made a world of difference in our house (I’ll give more details when I write Charlie’s birthday letter in a few weeks). You two seem to particularly get along when you’re ganging up on or teasing me. Hey, I’ll gladly be the brunt of your jokes to avoid all that screaming.

We’re working on a few of your behavior quirks. You get this nervous laugh when we call you out on something you’re not supposed to being doing (like hitting Charlie). I try to remind myself you’re probably not trying to be defiant; it’s most likely some kind of auto response, but it can be aggravating.

Or, maybe it’s because you’re acting pugnacious lately. You’re kind of a dick to your brother at times, which is unfortunate because he’s working so hard to be nicer to you. You’ve learned that taunting Charlie can get a rise out of him. For example, you’ll say over and over, “I’m taller than youuuuu, I’m taller than youuuuuu,” even though that’s demonstrably false. Charlie gets angrier and angrier until he blows up, and then everyone is yelling.

Dad pointed out the other day that when you boys leave for college, I won’t hear “mom…mom…mom…MOM!!!!” every few seconds. He was probably trying to give me comfort during a relentless weekend, but the thought made me feel unexpectedly sad. While I absolutely love my relationship with Charlie as an almost 8 year old, I know how much it’s changed since he was your age. I’ll probably feel just as great about us when you’re at that age, but there’s something about you being my last baby that makes me feel like clinging.

Each day, you have more trouble fitting into my lap. Your hands are now longer than they are wide. We went to Legoland a few times over Spring Break and you were tall enough to ride a roller coaster. The signs are everywhere, reminding me that time marches forward.

But this time together brings such sweetness. The other night before bed, you grabbed my shoulders and pulled me in close for a big snuggle. Then you demanded “100 kiss and 20 hugs!”

My sweet, sweet boy. You can always count on me to give you that — and a “whittle” more.

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