Letters to Jack: Almost 4

img_20180626_072850.jpgDearest Jackers,

Wow — it’s really been a while since I last wrote you a letter. More than three months! I’m sorry, buddy.

The delay was due to a combination of factors: we’re a busy family, the obvious fact that I’m working too much, my struggle to find time to write, and just sheer exhaustion by the end of the day when I might have that time.

But, enough about me. Right now, you and Charlie are in the living room with Dad playing “Super Mario Odyssey.” Since his birthday, Charlie’s been on that game every time he has screen-time “chips” to exchange, and you’re content to sit next to him and just watch. Charlie will sometimes give you a play-by-play, you’ll tell him to watch out for bad guys. It’s very cute.

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You’re getting along better, and I think this is partly because you can do more big-kid things. You understand the concept of tag now, so you and Charlie play that often. The other night, Dad and I paused while making dinner and realized that Charlie was teaching you how to play Uno in the other room. It was quiet, no one was screaming, and I gave myself a smug pat on the back for having two children who could be each other’s friends.

Today is a bit of a milestone day. The road leading us here started a few months ago when my flabbergasted friends convinced me that you no longer needed the “OMG ARE YOU BREATHING” monitor in your bed. I slowly (though not completely) got used to the black void of unknowing, though I was still going into your room when I heard you stir in the morning.

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Well, something clicked today when you began calling for me before 6:30 a.m. If there is no monitor on your bed, I realized, then you can totally get out of bed on the weekends and play by yourself WHILE MOMMY SLEEPS. Gosh, I’m brilliant.

You’re potty trained at night now — another great success over the past few months — so I don’t need to worry about diapers and such. I dug through your closet and brought out The Tot Clock that Ash gave us years ago. Starting tomorrow, you will know it’s morning when the clock turns yellow and you can play alone in your room. While I stay in bed. (Here’s hoping.)

This summer, we took a big trip with friends up to the Redwoods. In total, there were 25 of us, 10 of whom were children. I loved spending so much time as a family, and you and Charlie had incredible fun bouncing back and forth among the cabins. There were two other kids about your age, and you often sat as a trio at dinner trading utterances of fart, poop and butt.

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One day, you and I stayed behind while the adults and big kids went on a long hike. That was OK with you because there was construction work happening along the main road, so we just sat by the entrance to our cabins and watched dump trucks and excavators pass by all morning.

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You also started swim lessons, and boy, you’re a fish. Charlie was fearful of, and resistant to, swimming until he was in first grade, so it came as a surprise how you jumped in — literally! The challenge is that you think you can do more than you’re able to, and you try lunging out of my arms to swim on your own. I let you go once, and you just sank, so we’ve got to be careful about that.

You were really into Fourth of July fireworks this year. We decided you were old enough to go to the show near our house. You loved how big and bright and loud they were, and now when you sit on Dad’s shoulders you pretend to be a firework exploding in the air. Poof!

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This summer, you’ve spent your days at a preschool housed in the local concrete jungle of a high school. It’s been fine, I guess. I mean who needs grass and open space when it’s consistently over 90 degrees outside anyway? They also have scrap paper for coloring from the local jail, which I’m sure there is a story behind. Still, I miss your home classroom and teachers, and I’m looking forward to school starting in a few weeks.

Before the school year ended, you and your classmates put on a music show that I couldn’t attend because of a work conflict. This was heartbreaking for me, but luckily Dad and Grandma B went, and smartphone videos are a thing. The kids wore some sort of costume during one of the early songs, and for some reason, the teachers didn’t take yours off. So, for the rest of the show, you sat happily at the edge of the group with a GIANT PINK FLOWER ON YOUR HEAD. Not bothered one bit. At one point during the show, you and your giant flower got up to pick up a piece of trash on the floor. The whole thing may be one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.

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Last night, we saw some families from Grandma B’s old preschool. It’s incredible to see all of you kids grow up. You, of course, talked the ears off one of the Dads as soon as we arrived. Later, another Dad remarked how you’re still so loving and affectionate.

This is one of my favorite constants about you. After all this time, you still love to cuddle on the couch. This morning, I brought you into bed hoping you’d fall back asleep, and you just rubbed my arms and touched my face and patted my hair. You still prefer to sit on my lap than anywhere else in the world, and it’s so comforting to feel your body tucked into mine.

The next letter I write will be for your fourth birthday (!!!!), and I know I need to hold on to these sweet moments when you still want to hold onto me.

Thank you for choosing us, little guy.

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