Comfy love

Dear Love Bug,

It’s been a while–sorry! First, I was too exhausted and mad at you from dealing with your absolutely horrific toddler behavior. We had a few real doozies in the past week. Then I was in long-weekend movie-watching mode. But now we’ve kind of gotten back to normal, whatever that is. 

You had a little bit of a meltdown this evening at the dinner table because you kept asking for things (more hot dog roll, more chips) that we weren’t going to give you. But you actually did a good job of calming yourself down and taking the time and space you needed to do it. So yay! This is progress. 

Otherwise, you’ve been pretty wonderful over the past few days. You’ve been sweet, cooperative and generous. You’ve generally followed directions and listened well. We took you to Panera for lunch on Saturday, and you sat so beautifully at the table–barely moving or making a peep while you polished off an entire bagel–I texted Nonna to ask if she’d seen any pigs flying around. 

Last night, after a busy afternoon spent playing hard at D’s birthday party (and running off the sugar consumed) and then an evening visiting with your great-grandparents, we sailed through your bedtime routine with remarkably little pushback from you. When we settled into your chair for snuggles and a song, you nestled into me and threw an arm around me. I squeezed you back and told you I love you. “I love you too,” you said. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. That was a first!

And then, when I got you tucked into bed, you asked for your puppies. I piled them up near you–Marshall and Tonka and Speck–and you put your arm around all of them and said, “Mmm, this is comfy.” I love that you express these things. 

Today, amid the Memorial Day sprinkler play (thanks, Nonna, for the new Paw Patrol sprinkler toy!) and frozen yogurt pops, while you were waiting for our traditional barbecue dinner to be served, you did a somersault all by yourself. And it was graceful and completely unhindered by any sort of hesitation. You just never stop amazing me. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

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I Love You

Dear Love Bug,

One of the happy side effects of you sleeping in a big boy bed is that I can lean over and kiss you goodnight. What a treat! I’m so used to having to make do whispering night-night to you through the bars and kind of petting your head, which is as far as I could reach. 
I always say the mantra that Nonna and I used to recite to each other: “Night-night, sweet dreams, see you in the morning, love you!”

And speaking of “love you,” one of the cutest things you did yesterday, Nonna reminded me, was figure out how to make the sign language “I love you” sign on your own. Nonna started doing the sign with you ages ago, but you could never manipulate your little fingers into the sign. 

Then yesterday, on the way to the playground, you focused really hard on it and did it all by yourself. You squealed with glee: “I did it! I did it!” And you kept showing us over and over. Every time I looked down at you, you were staring at your fingers and working them into the sign. A new trick!

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Playing Airplane

Dear Love Bug,

It’s been a milestone a minute this weekend. We’ve been really focused on supporting your self-identity as a “big boy” by making changes, probably long overdue, to facilitate bedtimes, which have become increasingly nightmarish. At about 7:30 p.m., you turn into a raving lunatic. (That’s for posterity, my love.) And because of this, Daddy and I turn into exorcists. And it makes us cranky, and it makes you cranky, and many a night has ended in tears. It wasn’t sustainable the way it was, so we set up some ground rules:

  1. No more diapers. Trying to get you into your diapers multiple times an evening–because inevitably you have to use the potty at some point after we’ve finally wrangled you into a diaper but before you climb into bed–was like trying to get one of our grumpy cats into a diaper. It just wasn’t worth it anymore, so we made an executive decision that you’ll be wearing Pull-Ups only from here on out. I thought you’d fight this, but instead you’re so proud of wearing Pull-Ups that you’re telling everyone you know about it.
  2. No more milk before bed. I’m super tired of cleaning up your spilled milk, and I’m fairly close to crying over it. So you get milk with dinner–you can drink as much of it as you’d like while you’re at the table–and it doesn’t come upstairs. After all, only babies need milk before bed, and you’re not a baby anymore. You’re a big boy.
  3. You must be bed-ready before getting either TV (on rare occasions) or a book. TV is an extra-special treat for extra-good behavior. It’s not a given. You can read a book (or two or three, depending on the length and depending on the amount of time we have) before your bedtime cuddles. But you can only do this if you’re in your PJs and have brushed your teeth. So it behooves you to cooperate through those processes to allow time for reading or watching.

And because we have big-boy expectations of you at bedtime, we thought it was fitting that you should have a big-boy bed. We weren’t terribly concerned about the transition from crib to open bed. At Nonna’s, you’ve been sleeping on an inflatable big-boy mattress (that is, a bed without bars) for some time, and you don’t have issues staying in it. So yesterday, Daddy went up to the attic to haul down the toddler bed railing we’ve been saving since before you were born for this very moment.

We tried it out for the first time during your afternoon nap yesterday. You crawled in, turned over, and went straight to sleep. Success! And last night was problem-free too. This morning, though, through the fog of being dragged from sleep, I heard, “Mom! Dad! The light is green!” I squinted at my alarm clock to confirm; your OK-to-wake clock is programmed to turn on at 7:45 a.m. Yup, right on schedule. Then I heard your door open and your little feet slapping the wood floor. Hmmmm. That was not what we’d discussed. Your footsteps stopped, and I heard you say, “Oh! Hi, Obie!” (Apparently, our big blond furbaby was staring up at you from the other side of the barricade we set up at the top of the stairs, not to keep you in but to keep him out.) Then pitter-pat to just outside of our room and then the door handle jiggling. And finally, the door flew open. My eyes still weren’t open.

I had to remind you, once I was up and awake, that you’re not allowed to leave your room until we come to get you, not even when your clock turns green. “But Marshall said it was OK,” you said. “Marshall is a cartoon dog,” I responded, “and he doesn’t make the rules. Mamma and Daddy make the rules.” I explained that leaving your room without us could be dangerous. “Well, Marshall was impressed,” you said. I was still too groggy to  wrap my head around the exchange we’d just had, let alone ask exactly what Marshall was impressed by. “Impressed!” You’re something.

At nap time today, you had a hard time settling, and I found you sitting up on the edge of your bed, playing with your stuffed animals . I had to come in to reminde you that it was nap time, not play time, even if it’s now easier for you to get out of your bed to play. I had to rock you to sleep.

But once you were down, you slept for almost three hours. And when you finally woke up, we went to the playground with Nonna and Opa. You wanted to walk there like a big boy, not ride in the stroller. I brought the stroller along just in case you changed your mind, but you made it there (and back) without once wanting to climb in.

At the playground, you launched yourself down the gentle hill from the jungle gym area into the wide, grassy field below, arms flung out to the side and behind you. You ran in a wide arc and then made your way back up the hill. You did this a couple of times before I asked what you were doing. “Playing airplane,” you responded, matter-of-factly. We stood at the top of the hill, watching you propel yourself down with your arms out and your head back, racing through the field sprinkled with bright-yellow buttercups, so fiercely independent and just so adorable.

And I’m fairly certain this is my favorite age: when you’re a big boy but still so little in so many ways.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Strategic Cry

Dear Love Bug,

Sorry I haven’t written in a few days. I nearly died. 

Actually, I had Strep throat, but I felt like I was going to die. (And now I know where your fits of melodrama come from.) I’m praying neither you nor Daddy get it, but if you do, we know exactly what it is and how to treat it. Three doses of azithromyacin in, and I’m nearly good as new. 

There’s lots I could write about–especially Mother’s Day, when I was slowly fading but pulled it together enough to host brunch for your grandparents but not enough to really spend any quality time with you, which makes me sad. Or your recent love affair with Matchbox cars, now that you’ve inherited easily 100 from Daddy’s collection (and some of those actually started out as your Great Uncle Paul’s). You like to take them outside, now that the weather has turned nice again, and line them up on the sidewalk and then race them down to see how fast they’ll go. That makes me happy. 

But I think what I want to write to you about today is how you’ve mastered the art of the strategic cry. After your bath, you were standing stark naked in the kitchen and asked if you could watch TV. I said no, it had gotten late, and you instantly devolved into a wailing mess. Real tears and everything. And I felt terrible for you but also was cognizant of the scene, in which (again) you were standing absolutely naked in the kitchen, sobbing over and over again about how you wanted to watch Paw Patrol. And then you looked me straight in the eye, gave a really impressive moan, and waddled over, threw your arms around my legs and buried your face in my thighs. 

Oh goodness. You sure know how to get me. 

I called you a Drama King, and maybe you have a future in theater (but please no nudity). 

Love you like crazy like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Barefoot on the Moon

Dear Love Bug,

This will be a quick one because I just took NyQuil in an effort to win the war against this nasty cold. 

We barely left the house today, mostly because it was rainy, chilly, and generally icky but also because I couldn’t much motivate to do anything other than nap while you napped. 

When you woke up this afternoon, we found ourselves playing in the basement–one of your favorite spots in the house–and I pulled out the rocket-shaped tent that Nonna got you for Valentine’s Day that you haven’t played much with since then. We set up the play mat so you’d have some padding, and you and Marshall hung out in there for a bit. 

When you were done in the basement, Daddy and I asked if you wanted to bring your tent up to your room, thinking it might get more use if it’s in a spot that you constantly inhabit. You were very excited about this, and once Daddy got it re-mounted in that location, you went about decorating it with blankets and pillows, invited your friends in, and grabbed some books and toys. Daddy read to you for a bit, his head inside the tent with the rest of his long body protruding. When he went downstairs to start getting dinner ready, I took his spot. I can tuck myself inside a bit more easily. 

We read and played. At one point, you asked if you could take your socks off. It was about 1,000 degrees inside that nylon rocket, so I could understand. Still, I asked why you wanted them off as I helped you remove them. 

“Because,” you said, “I want to walk barefoot on the moon.”

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

You’re serious!

Dear Love Bug,

This is just something I know I’ll want to remember: Sometimes, for no particular reason, you’ll scrunch up your face, furrow your brow, purse your lips and stare us down, saying, “You’re serious!” in a very serious tone. 

It may have been that we were mad the first time you responded to us this way, but how could we not laugh? Now it’s become a running joke. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Giggles

Dear Love Bug,

This is something I want to remember forever. We went to the other playground this afternoon before dinner–the one at the elementary school–and we played in the sun and crisp air. It feels more like November than May. 

You bit it hard at one point and went sprawling, hands first, tummy down in the mulch. Instatears. You scraped up your hands pretty badly but you went running toward the jungle gym, still howling. I ran after you and even though I know you really wanted to climb that jungle gym through the tears, you had to take a moment to crumple into my arms and rest your head on my shoulder. I’m glad that makes it better. 

That’s not even the part I want to remember. 

That part came later, long after the tears had been forgotten. Daddy had just texted to say dinner was almost on the table, and I was facing a three-block walk with the slowest, most distractable toddler ever. So I scooped you up and put you on my hip. At one point, without warning, I took off at a gallop. At first, you looked terrified, bouncing on my hip. But then it was squeals of joy and uncontrollable giggles. 

“Do it again!” you demanded. So I walked a bit and then suddenly started running. More giggles. And then I started giggling, and I was out of breath but couldn’t stop laughing at your laughter. 

“Run all the way home!” you squealed. And we sprinted and laughed and walked and giggled and ran until we made it home for dinner. 

I want to remember what it feels like to have the giggles with you. This is maybe what I’ll miss most when you grow up. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma


photo by our cousin N from this past weekend