Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dear Moe (40th Month)

Hello, apple cider granola bar sunshine. (That’s what you call us when you go to bed. “Goodnight Daddy apple cider granola bar! Goodnight Mommy granola bar sunshine!” It’s very flattering - they are all things you like.) 

My darling, this past month has been pretty magical for so many reasons. Here are a few examples: 
  • You, all tucked into bed and stroking your belly through your blanket, saying, “I have to get comfy-fied.” 
  • You have added a new element to the bedtime ritual, and it involves humming the Imperial March with Daddy. I have never seen a happier, prouder father. He describes it as a little slice of awesome. 
  • You pick up rocks whenever we go for a walk, and they are all sitting in a little pile on the window sill on the front porch. You refer to it as your “collection”. You now understand that rocks and sticks don’t come into the house. 
  • Granny took you to the Agriculture Museum on a day when you were able to pet the baby bunnies. You were so delighted and ever so gentle with them. 
  • Robin now has a small (hypoallergenic) doggie named Smokey, who you absolutely adore. You love petting him and having someone small to take care of. 
  • Grandma stayed home with you for the day when you were sick, and you worked with her to wash every dish in the kitchen. When you woke up from your nap, you were so very proud to be able to tell me, “Mommy, I washed the dishes.” You had a ball. 

There have been a number of times this month when you got very frustrated or angry and cried, “I just want to DO something.” We weren’t sure if you were frustrated because there was something you were able to do but weren’t allowed, or because you wanted to do something but weren’t able to do it. Then Robin told us about an incident that happened at day care. She had made brownies for everyone, and had put them in a container on the table. You asked for one. Just after she got you one, you picked up the container of brownies and deliberately dumped them on the dirty, sandy carpet. Nobody else was able to have a special snack that day. When Robin asked you why on earth you’d done that, you said, “I just wanted to do something.” We had a talk about it while you were in the bath that evening, and you essentially told me that you did it to get a reaction. By the end of the chat, you were able to consider how you would feel if you had worked hard to make something, only to have someone come along and dump it in the dirt, and you agreed that you would feel very sad. I think you felt real remorse when you looked at it that way. I also explained that in this world, there are people who do things that make others happy, and people who do things that make others sad, and that we should always try and be the people who make others happy. (“If you want to do something that gets a reaction, do something good that gets a happy reaction.”) As you get older, you will learn that it isn’t that simple - sometimes doing the right thing isn’t the course of action that will make people happy. At the end of the day, though, we want you to be compassionate and caring and kind. Right now, for someone who is three, that generally means making the choices that make others happy. I look forward to sorting out the nuances of this with you as you grow. You are a kind and loving little boy. I know you will be able to make the right choices. And when you don’t, I’ll be there to talk them through with you. (Since the “brownie incident,” there have been fewer declarations of “I just want to DO something.” I see this as a positive thing.) 

We had a number of amazing adventures this month. To begin, we went as a family to the Star Wars Identities exhibit at the Canada Aviation and Aerospace Museum. I’m not going to lie, we were pretty disappointed that you were unnerved by how dark the exhibit was and that you wanted to go home as soon as you walked in. But you allowed us to hit all the main stations, we all built our characters and saw some cool stuff. Since then, any time you see either C-3PO or R2-D2, you declare proudly, “I saw them at Star Wars!” The experience was worth it just for that. (Mommy’s highlight was seeing Leia’s metal bikini.) 

You and I had our first overnight out-of-town getaway together since we went to Halifax when you were 3 months old. We went to Montreal for two nights. Pookiest of pookies, let me tell you how incredibly proud I was (and am) of you. You are a homebody and an only child and you dislike being outside your comfort zone. You handled being without your daddy, sleeping in a strange house, and suddenly being surrounded by no less than SEVEN other little kids (five of whom were eager to share your toys) with incredible grace. You did beautifully. It was a lovely experience for me, because I got to hang out with some of the girls with whom I went to Kamp Kanawana more than 20 years ago. I hope you make friends like that, my darling... people that are worth reconnecting with after 20 years. We stayed at Samantha’s dad’s house, and we pretty much had our own suite upstairs. It was a very comfortable arrangement, and you slept quite well on a futon on the floor at the foot of my bed. 

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely our Saturday morning adventure with my friend Chris (someone else I hadn’t seen in about 20 years). We met up with him at the Biodome and you took a shine to him immediately.You weren’t crazy about the Amazon area. (It was for several reasons, including the heat and humidity, and some confusion created when you asked “is that fog real?” and I said it was, and then realized you were asking if an ENORMOUS plastic frog was real. No amount of explaining that the frog wasn’t real could reassure you - you wanted out of there, and quickly. You did not trust that frog. Although you did enjoy the monkeys.) You also weren’t keen on anywhere that was dark, like the bat area. But you perked up immediately in the Laurentian Maple Forest (there were otters swimming speedily!), and loved the Gulf of St Lawrence and the Labrador Coast. You loved walking like a duck and playing with some small puddles that had formed by the “seashore”. You had a hard time seeing the penguins (it was dark in their habitat), but we enjoyed watching puffins dive and swim. Then you noticed one little puffin all by his lonesome over to the side, and you asked, “Why is he sad?” and I realized that it was probably because he was living at the Montreal Biodome. I was ready to explain that, but you were quickly distracted by something else. We’ll have that discussion together someday. Then you totally blew your gift shop chance by throwing a tantrum and demanding an expensive truck when I’d already said I’d buy you a small stuffie. Oh, well.  

We sought solace and distraction by blowing bubbles in Olympic Park, and Chris found some pylons and set up a stroller slalom course for the two of you. You had a blast, and Chris learned that a three-year-old will never actually stop saying “AGAIN!” until you tell them “no”, and even then they will try and negotiate. We went for lunch on the Plateau (you tried poutine for the first time), followed by ice cream, which we ate while sitting in a rather scuzzy doorway because we are not too proud and there apparently aren’t any benches in the Plateau. You didn’t mind at all. You even got to pee on a fence across the street from a super sketchy strip club, so it was a full and complete Montreal experience. We dropped Chris at his place, and about five minutes later, you said, “Mommy, I just love him.” I asked you who you were talking about, and you said, “Your friend.” I said, “Chris?” and you said, “Yep. I just love Chris.” I was very glad you had such a good time. 

The next morning, it was raining, and you asked very sweetly, “Please can we go home now?” (Except you pronounce it nay-ow, which is awesome.) As all my plans relied on the weather being good, I couldn’t deny you. Also, you were just about done. So I drove us home, and you were so, very, very happy to get there. And then you punished me for the next day and a half with behaviour that resulted in time-outs, tears and recriminations. Holy cow. I was terrified about what the recovery period would be like from our next (much bigger) travel adventure, but you surprised and delighted me. I think the problem was that I took you away from home AND took you away from your Daddy. I think you could have coped with one of those things, but both was overwhelming. 

Hilariously, when I asked you what your favourite part of Montreal had been, you said it was when we were at the grocery store and I got to the cash and realized I’d forgotten to pick-up hummus and I had to push the cart through the store at light speed to quickly find and grab the hummus and get back to the cash before the cashier cancelled my transaction. I’m glad that was a highlight for you, darling. 

We just got back from our second travel adventure. We went to Mason City, Iowa for Evan and Megan’s wedding. We had known for a long time that you would have a special job during the ceremony, but we made a conscious choice to really not make a big deal about it at all. As a result, you were a fantastic ring bearer, and enjoyed many kudos after the fact. Both Evan and Megan were delighted in your performance (you were adorable, seriously, and I was so incredibly proud of you), and you returned their affection with big hugs. Your highlights from the wedding reception were playing croquet (you showed an incredible aptitude, actually), loading and unloading your new John Deere tractor toy with the gravel from Megan’s grandfather’s driveway, and eating all of Daddy’s coleslaw and most of his ribs. 

Getting to Iowa was an adventure, but you were a total trooper. The original plan had been to fly to Minneapolis (through Chicago) on the Thursday, spend the night in Minneapolis, and then drive the two hours to Mason City on the Friday morning. Instead, our Thursday morning flight was cancelled (twice) and we ended up hanging out at the Ottawa airport for four hours, only to have to go home and try again Friday morning. We flew Ottawa to Toronto and then Toronto to Minneapolis on Friday, grabbed the rental car, drove two hours to Mason City, did groceries, bathed you, and then I dashed out to the rehearsal dinner while Daddy put you to bed in your “nest”. (He made a border around your bed with blankets and sheets so that you wouldn’t fall out of bed. You loved your nest.) 

The next morning, we hung out at the farm (the location of the wedding) so you could get the lay of the land, and that was a great plan. It also allowed us to hang with Evan and Megan and help out a bit getting things ready. (Daddy helped. I hung out with you.) Then it was back to the hotel for a nap, and your triumphant return to the farm in time for the wedding.. 

Sunday morning, we explored East Park and I introduced you to Pooh Sticks, which we played on a bridge over a creek. Then we joined everyone for a Father’s Day brunch at a local restaurant, and then drove to Minneapolis. We had dinner at the Mall of America, which was completely insane. We watched the Nickelodeon amusement park rides go around and around, we checked out the Lego Store, and then we spoiled you rotten at the Disney Store. I offered you a choice between a Woody doll or a Buzz doll, and your eyes just lit up when you saw Buzz. He now has a place of honour on your rocking chair at night, and he comes down with you in the morning. He’s as important as Lambie and Rumpus (and they are IMPORTANT). Also, when you go to university, please be grateful that I didn’t go into the Victoria’s Secret at the Mall of America and spend your RESP. Because I totally could have. 

Monday morning we fulfilled a dream of mine and visited the Minnesota Children’s Museum. You had the time of your life. Moe, there was a whole gallery of water tables where you could put on a smock and play with the water. I was afraid your brain would explode. And then you played with conveyer belts and made them go. You were mesmerized. I finally dragged you to the Our Community gallery where you had a ball in the you-sized grocery store. It was bliss. I was only sorry we could only stay an hour and a half. 

We flew home (with a long layover in Chicago) that afternoon, and got home quite late due to a delayed Chicago-Ottawa flight. Uncle Mark was there to meet us at the airport. You were chatting with him on the way home, until you suddenly said, “I don’t have any more talk” and zoned out. And no wonder. It was past 11 pm.   
Shockingly, despite the late night, your transition day went super well. We had braced for the worst after Montreal, so we took it easy and you were wonderful. You were also very happy to be home, to see your Granny and Grandma, to show them Buzz, to sleep in your own bed, and to flake out on the couch a bit and watch the Octonauts and Finding Nemo while clutching your new Nemo stuffie. 

Moe sunshine apple cider banana granola bar, we are so incredibly proud of you. Once again, you have shown us that we can take you everywhere. People - complete strangers - fall in love with you wherever you go. You are loving, sweet, kind, and funny. You have the best sense of humour and we laugh together every single day. I am so proud of the person you are becoming. Keep being awesome. And never forget how much we love you and what a great human being you are.