Monday, March 25, 2013

Dear Moe (37 Months)

Hi, sweetie. Sorry this letter is almost a week late. It’s been a busy time, and I haven’t really felt like writing in the evenings. 

We have had a lovely month together. We’ve been very social, with visits to and from lots of people. 

We had a great playdate with Koen at his house. You were enthralled by his crazy-huge motorized marble run. You tasted popcorn for the first time, and were all over it. And you and Koen had a wonderful time sharing each other’s toys, like your Batmobile and his bowling set. (Side note: At bedtime, you get to choose two books from your shelf. Some of them are books of poetry. When you pick one of those, I tell you, “This is a book of poems.” Inevitably, you ask, incredulously, “This is Koen’s book?”) 

We had a wonderful visit from Tia Reiko, Tio Rodrigo and your cousin Isabel over March Break. We were so happy to spend time with them. Isabel made you a huge snow fort in the backyard, and you both had a great time playing there. You loved showing Tia your slick moves on your plasma car and all your favourite things at the Science and Technology Museum, and Tio Rodrigo was mesmerizing with his magic tricks and his uncanny ability to blow on a window to make the flags outside start moving. You really enjoyed having them here. There were staying at Granny's, so we spent a lot of time there. We stopped by there again the other day, and you hadn't been over since they left. You walked into the living room, looked around at the empty couch and chairs, and said, “Where did everybody go?” 

As you get older and play more with your friends (as opposed to alongside them), you are learning all kinds of important social lessons. One day this month when I picked you up from daycare, I asked you how your day was, and you responded sadly that “Nobody was friendly to me today.” As this was a very different answer than what I am used to hearing, I called Robin to find out what might have happened to make you say that. She told me that you have started seeing some of your friends almost as security blankets, and when they want to play on their own without you, you feel quite rejected. So we’ve worked on making you understand that everybody needs time to play on their own sometimes, and it doesn’t mean they don’t like you or aren’t being friendly. It’s going very well, and you are feeling much happier about your place at daycare. 

There are a few things we’ve been focusing on this month. One is your very dramatic use of hyperbole. For example, you might ask to spread the honey on your toast, but be told by Daddy that you have to wait for the toast to finish toasting first. You would then tearfully complain to me that “Daddy won’t let me put honey on my toast!” (One of my favourites was, “Mommy won’t let me do ANYTHING!”) So we started using the phrase “drama llama” (adapted from the book “Llama Llama, Mad at Mamma”) to describe this behaviour. We also ask you to “change your attitude”. You have since become much better at not being a little drama llama, and we appreciate it. 

We have also been focusing on “being friendly,” a term that comes from Robin, and means not taunting people, using potty talk, or calling people names. (Robin explains to you and the other kids that name calling isn’t a “friendly” thing to do. We’ve adopted the same words.) You have made great strides in this lately, too. Typically, these phases only last about a week or two, and with hard work on both our parts, you learn that the behaviour isn’t appropriate or appreciated. 

And finally, we’re working hard again on saying please and thank you. It seemed time for a refresher. A lot of your requests were becoming very demanding, and rather unpleasant. You’ve made great progress, and I’m sure that as we continue to work at it, you’ll get better and better about it. 

I hope this doesn’t sound like you’ve been a total pill, because you aren’t. You are still a lovely, charming boy. You are very polite, you love to tell people, “Have a good day!” (even when they are leaving in the evening). You love to be silly and funny. When we put your socks on, you love it when we put the second sock over the first one, or when we pretend that we don’t know where the second sock goes. (“Does it go on your ear? No? It doesn’t? Oh, it must go on your elbow!”) 

You give fantastic hugs, kisses and cuddles. You love to “hide” and have us find you, only to “scare” us by roaring. You make a great dinosaur. Daddy sometimes carries you around as his own portable dinosaur, and you roar at things (and people) to scare them. It’s hilarious. You also do a great impression of the tiniest dinosaur, who says “roar” in a teeny-tiny little voice. You have the best laugh. 

At night, when I leave your room, you often say, “Goodnight, Mommy! I love you! You’re a banana!” (We have Elephant and Piggie to thank for that.) 

You love it when Daddy builds you a fort in the living room. You bring all your stuffies and cars inside and love having a little snack in there, and if you can see the TV from inside the fort, well, your cup runneth over. 

You can be a bit shy with other people. If I prompt you to tell someone something (i.e.: “Can you tell her where we went today?”) and you are feeling a little unsure, you have the best phrase. You look at me and ask, quietly, “Mom, can you talk about it?” That lets me know that you're not 100% comfortable yet, and would like me to keep bridging the gap a bit longer.  

We don’t rock in the rocking chair anymore, except if you wake up in the middle of the night and really need extra consolation. We do stories and songs in your bed instead. You have expressed interest in not wearing a diaper during naptime, but you also won’t let us take down the bedrail, so we’re at a bit of an impasse there. (I need to know you can get to the potty without trouble before I put you into bed without a diaper.) 

Keeping a little boy from being exposed to guns and gun play acting is like trying to stop the ocean with a teaspoon. You have started talking about “shooters” and “shooting”. You have also once or twice made reference to “killing” and “dying” (without any idea of what you are saying). Part of me knows that I can’t stop this and that it’s normal, part of me mourns your total innocence in this regard, part of me wants to put you in a bubble, and part of me wonders how to deal with it all. The best I can do is teach you that when you are playing “shooting”, you are playing something that (in real life) hurts people very badly, or even makes them die. I’m muddling through it, and hoping that if I just focus on respect and compassion, I won’t go wrong. 

We did have our first discussion about death this month. We went to the Agriculture Museum to see the baby animals, and you asked where Eeyore the Donkey was. He has always been a favourite of yours - he was less intimidating than the horses and cows, you associated him with Winnie the Pooh, and you loved to say hello to him. I had to explain to you that Eeyore died over the winter, which raised questions about where he has gone. Granny and I handled the conversation really well, I think, and you seemed pretty nonplussed about it. Of course, when we went out to lunch with some friends afterwards, you told them with great gusto that Eeyore died, and I had to provide a bit to context lest you sound like a psychopath. 

Your routine has been a bit disrupted this month. I was on leave from work for about two weeks to give myself some time to take care of myself better, and you got quite used to having me around in the mornings. So when I went back to work, you were kind of sad that I wasn’t there anymore. And Daddy has been in Boston for the last six days, so you have missed him quite a bit, too. But we’ve been Skyping with him (and - bonus last night - with Aunt Kimmy, Uncle Luc, Caleb and Noah) and that’s been lovely for everyone. 

We’ve had great museum outings, including one to the Museum of Nature where we ran into Amelia and her family. While we were there, you met her friend, who has the same name as you. You were pretty tickled about it. 

You experienced a real milestone this month - Robin took you to your first movie in a theatre. It was a quiet Friday, and there were only three of you at daycare, so she bussed you to Rainbow Cinemas to see Wreck-It Ralph. She had no idea it was your first movie in a theatre, and I think my face betrayed me a little bit when she told me about it when I picked you up. I’m glad you got the opportunity to go, and I’m so glad that Robin takes you on these great adventures. But I was feeling a little sad because I’d always pictured myself taking you to your first movie theatre experience. (Ah, the guilt of the working mommy.) I’m glad you had fun, though. You reported back joyfully that you had some slushie and some popcorn, and that made me smile. 

I’ve registered you for a gymnastics class, which starts in a couple of weeks. You love being physical, doing “tricks” and “cool things” with your body - balancing, hopping, tumbling, jumping. So it seemed like a good idea. And then you saw the “Gymtastic Gymnastics” episode of Curious George and you were hooked. I really hope you like the class, Moe, and that you can enjoy the confidence that comes with being good at something, and the joy of working at something until you succeed. 

I found a great app that teaches you to write your letters, and you are getting really good at it. You have great letter recognition (you can do the whole alphabet, in and out of context) and you love to count things, too. The fact that you love to learn makes everything so much fun. 

YOU are so much fun. Even this past week, when I’ve been pretty mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day, it isn’t hard to remind myself that overall, you are a good listener, a polite boy, a loving child and a total sweetheart. You have a great sense of humour (even when it is potty humour - Daddy told me a great story about a hilarious pun you made), and your smile lights up the room. Keep being awesome, keep learning, keep teaching us, and keep being so easy to love. 

Bonus: The Potty Pun 
You were singing the alphabet song to Daddy about a week ago. You sang, “...j-k-l-m-n-o-...POO...q-r-s...” and sort of gave Daddy this mischievous little look, as if to say, “Did you catch that? See what I did there? Get it?” Daddy didn’t want to encourage the potty humour, but he had to admit it was a great pun. We killed ourselves laughing about it later. 

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