Go trademark it!

Dear Love Bug,

You’ve been asleep for hours on your magical blow-up toddler bed at Nonna’s. I think it must be made with chloroform because you power down the second you crawl into it and you’ve been known to sleep for 13, possibly 14, hours in it. 

I’m tucked into the futon in the basement, where I’ve slept the best sleeps of my life. May we both wake up refreshed because I’m exhausted. Not only have I been packing, painting, and yard sale posting for a week straight (The Project progresses), I’m flying solo this weekend because Daddy’s at Man Camp. All I can say is props to all the single parents out there. 

That being said, you’ve been particularly delightful lately. I mean, you’ve been amazing. Not perfect, by any means. But just so good. Is this the ramp-up to Three? If this is what your fourth year looks like, I say gimme more. I’ve heard from many, many, many people that 3 is worse than 2. I’ve had a hard time envisioning what that might look like because 2 has been difficult bordering on disaster. I kept wondering how it could get any worse. But now I’m wondering if you just had a particularly terrible 2 and maybe 3 won’t be so bad?

Some examples of your turn toward awesome: 

  • You feel remorse. You’ll still throw things on the floor, but then you’ll realize this isn’t OK and you’ll actually apologize and then pick them up. 
  • Bedtime has been miraculously drama free. You’ll maybe try to bargain for another book or some extra cuddles, but when we say it’s bedtime, you pretty much roll over and go to sleep. 
  • You tell us you love us all the time. And if we say it to you, you say, “I love you back.”
  • The physical manifestations (biting, hitting, kicking) of anger have all but disappeared. I don’t remember the last time you lashed out at one of us violently. Today, you got mad and kind of stomped around and then turned to me and said, “I’m frustrated!” The other night, out of nowhere, you said to me, “I’ll never ever pinch you again.” (It wasn’t like you had just done it or anything–you were just sitting there.) I was like, “Uh, thanks!”
  • Not always, but when I ask you to do something, you’ve begun to say, “OK, Mamma.” 

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, don’t get me wrong. Last night at Sorrento’s, you flipped your pizza over onto my purse and ruined it, for example. But we are trending in the right direction. 

Also, our conversations have become so smart. In the car on the way down here, we were listening to your CD, and “This Old Man” came on. You know, “This old man, he plays seven, he plays seven up in heaven, with a knick knack paddy whack give a dog a bone …” You listened intently and then said, “Mom, what’s heaven?” I had instant sweaty palms. “Uh, it’s a place,” I responded. You chewed on that, and I steeled myself for a follow-up question that never came but will soon enough, I’m sure. You’ve never asked about song lyrics like that before. 

And then this evening, you requested Team Umi Zoomi, your new obsession, and Nonna got it loaded up on Amazon. We wound up talking about the delivery method, and you said, “No, Amazoff.” It took me a split second, but then I got it, and I was speechless. How clever of you. Go trademark it. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma 

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When I was your age …

Dear Love Bug,

The weather these past few days has been phenomenal. Yesterday, after a day that went like this–blueberry pancakes, Nonna and Opa’s pool, three-hour nap, Rita’s, PerSmart (one of your favorite places)–we cleaned off the deck table and hauled up the market umbrella and had an incredibly civilized dinner on the deck. Daddy grilled up bacon cheeseburgers. You had already bathed and were in pajamas and wearing flip-flops and you sat in one of the folding deck chairs like a big boy. You plowed through the watermelon feta salad and asked for more. 

I took a look around and realized how charming that moment was. There was no yelling or throwing of food, no crying or whining. We were sitting outside with nothing to see but the tops of the trees that line our backyard. There were cold drinks in bottles and delicious food. It doesn’t happen often, but boy, when it happens, I feel like I can accomplish anything. It was nearly perfect. 

While we were sitting there, you were having a conversation with Daddy about Star Wars, and you said, “Dad, when I was your age, we didn’t even have Star Destroyers.” I nearly choked on my delicious burger.

It all went so well that we decided to try it again this evening. This time we had Trader Joe’s pizza, and you gobbled it up and asked for more. You talked about your day at camp; it sounded awful. You got to wear PJs all day and make your own pineapple pizza for lunch. You were bummed you didn’t get to play in the “wrecker” room, but you spent a lot of time on the playground, and you wanted to give me a tour of it before we headed home. At a certain point, you said, “I love you, Mom and Dad.” Daddy and I both turned into big puddles of mush. 

You’ve been so sweet and so kind lately, sharing your toys and your food, thanking us, saying you love us–I’m not sure what to make of it. But instead of spending my time trying to figure it out, I think I’ll just enjoy it. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

I love your hair!

Dear Love Bug,

You actually said this to me today. Along with “I love your shirt!” and many unprompted “I love you!”s. 

Every time you pay me a compliment (which is amazing, by the way), I pay you one back. I want to teach you that it’s nice to do that, and I rather enjoy our mutual admiration society. 

When we got home from the library this afternoon (we’re working on your “library voice,” which you haven’t yet mastered), Daddy was eating chips and offered you one. And you said, “Thanks for sharing with me, Daddy.”

Who is this child? Can this possibly be the effects of two days at camp? What are they feeding you? 

Of course, it didn’t stop the total meltdown before bed over having to use the potty. I’ll save that for another post. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Rockstar Woes

Dear Love Bug,

It started first thing this morning when you climbed into bed with us at 10 to 7 (damn this room and all its natural light) and lay absolutely still sandwiched between us for more than an hour. 

Then, when I took you to the bathroom for our ritual morning Pull-up removal, I realized you were dry for the second night in a row! Woohoo! When you were perched on your step stool, you looked down at your PJs and said “Look at my cool blast-off shirt!” I said “Your PJs are cool! Wish I had a pair.” And you said “I’ll buy you some.”

Down in the living room, playing with Nonna and me, you offered both of us your coveted Paw Patrol stickers just ’cause you like us (I think). 

At the farmer’s market, there was a local artist playing a ukulele and singing. At one point, a little girl had joined her for a halting rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” and you were intrigued. When they finished, you said “Is it my turn?” and clambered up on stage, where you absolutely belted out the same song (way better than the little girl, IMHO) to the accompanying ukulele, one hand on the mic like a rockstar. 

I thought I might burst with pride. You are something else. 

Then it all went downhill. You spent the rest of the day acting like a lunatic and exhausting all of us. You even had a mini tantrum on our walk down Main Street on the way to the Island Creamery, of all places, because you didn’t want to hold anyone’s hand. 

Daddy and I think we have it figured out. Whenever you seem to be going through a cognitive leap, which seems to be the case with your behavior this morning, your behavior turns terrible. We think it has to do with cerebral connections being made or perhaps synapses firing. Whatever it is, it’s both awesome and terrible. 

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

Cuddles and Shoes

Dear Love Bug,

You were such a lovey cuddly kid this evening–and generally pretty cooperative to boot–that I felt downright spoiled. You even ran over to give me a big hug when I picked you up at daycare. That never happens. 

Could this be a new developmental phase? If so, I like it!

While I was changing you for bed on Topperone–that’s your giant stuffed giraffe from Aunt Audra that we use as a floor pillow–you spotted a new pair of shoes out of the corner of your eye. They’re adorable Vans-esque checkerboard slip-ons. 

You have shunned these shoes since the moment I introduced them to you, instead insisting on wearing your red Chucks day in and day out. But tonight, they intrigued you and you wanted to put them on immediately, accompanied by nothing but your overnight diaper. 

“Do you like them?” I asked, somewhat dubiously. “Yeah!” you said enthusiastically. “Do you want to wear them tomorrow to daycare?” “Yeah!” And so begins a love affair with a new pair of shoes. 
Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma