Dear Big Boy,
Today you are two years old…24 months…730 days…17,520 hours. And, since it is – at the very moment I am typing this sentence – precisely 9:30 AM, you’ve officially been a part of our family for 1,051,200 minutes. When I put it that way, it seems like so many minutes, hours, days……yet, I’m looking back at the last two years and thinking, “Where did all the time go? How did it pass by so quickly?” I know that I’ve tried to savor your baby- and toddlerhood. Knowing that you are our last baby, I am always acutely aware that your milestones are “our” last milestones…that, hey, this will be our last baby’s first steps, or first tooth, or first words. Rocking you at bedtime last night, I was painfully aware that it would be the last time I rocked my one-year-old, that tonight I’ll be rocking a two-year-old at bedtime. Typing that now, it sounds silly; the difference is really only one day. But today you’re Two. Which means you’re officially, I think, no longer a baby. Which means my last baby is growing up. Which breaks my heart, a little.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how “youngest” children are typically stereotyped as the “babies” of the family, as “spoiled.” I’ve always thought parents probably showed a little favoritism to the youngest child simply because he or she is the “baby,” the last child, and they – like I – are so aware of the painful, precipitate passage of time. But over the last few months I’ve drawn a different conclusion: by the time the “last” child comes along, parents are – quite simply – worn out. I don’t know how many times in the last several months I’ve looked at you and said, “Son, you are wearing me OUT.” I feel like I’m running all the time…running your sisters to one of their activities, running around the house TRYING to get something done, or running after YOU. Your favorite thing in the world, it seems, is to get Mom or Dad to chase you; so you start running as soon as we say your name. Running and grinning. Oh MY, but it’s hilarious to watch Mom and Dad get so frustrated, chasing you and saying, “Come here. [Big Boy]. Come HERE. Stop. I said STOP. [BIG BOY]! COME HERE!” (Repeat eleventy hundred times, or until we catch up with you, whichever comes first.)
So, yeah, maybe you do get away with more than your sisters got away with when they were your age, but it’s not because of favoritism, it’s because of EXHAUSTION. We’re so worn out from all the running around, we just don’t have the energy to chase after you and stop you from doing everylittlethingallthetime. We’ve finally reached the “pick our battles” stage of parenting, wherein we pause and answer the question, “Does it really matter if Big Boy [empties the kitchen cabinets/drawers, runs through the baseball field sprinklers during the girls’ softball practice, plays in a mud puddle, eats Froot Loops he found on the floor, etc.]?” No, it doesn’t. We’re saving our energy (and our sanity) for the wars on Darting Into the Street, Running With Scissors, and Drinking Household Chemicals.
It’s the running all the time and the subsequent exhaustion which I am choosing to blame for not having written your monthly newsletters for the past several months. It’s not the sort of thing I can do with you running around, what with all the emotionally-charged typing and the photo sorting and editing. And by the time I get you and your sisters settled in bed for the night, I’m just too physically, mentally, and emotionally drained to get much of anything accomplished. I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to come back to this newsletter to add photos and update it with your height and weight after you go for your two-year checkup; but for now, I just want to get the words out, to acknowledge today, Your Day, your second birthday.
Because you’re the third child, and you’re really too young to care or remember anyway, your birthday has sort of taken a backseat to all the other activities going on this week. The Drama Queen and Miss Attitude have church activities at the park tonight, so we’ll get home late. Then tomorrow we’ll be up and going early, because Nanny and Poppy are treating all of us to a trip to Six Flags. I’m thinking, maybe we’ll finally get to have a little birthday party Saturday evening.
I sang “Happy Birthday” to you this morning after you woke up, got out of bed and pounded on your door, yelling “Ma! MA!” (Oh yes, I should mention here that we had to move you to your toddler bed – a Race Car bed! – a few weeks ago, because I went to get you out of bed one Saturday morning and found you climbing out of your crib! You were sitting astride the top rail when I walked into your room, you little stinker. We moved the race car bed into your room THAT DAY.) You were pretty annoyed when I sang the birthday song, and you got downright ANGRY at Daddy when he sang it to you a few minutes later. You usually like to be sung to, but this morning you were simply too busy to be bothered with such nonsense.
Last night the girls and I tried to teach you to hold up two fingers and say “two” when we asked how old you are. The best we could get was you holding up ONE finger, smiling, and saying “det.” Which was totally cute, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t exactly what we were shooting for.
I’ve tried not to worry that you’re still not talking much. You communicate pretty well; you just don’t say a lot of words. The words you say most frequently are Mom (“Ma”), Dad (“Da”), This (“Dis”), That (“Dat”), Yes (“Des”), Cookie (“Gick-key”), Chips (“Dits”), and THERE it is! (“DERE-dis!”) You occasionally say [The Drama Queen], [Miss Attitude], cheese (the girls taught you to “Say cheese!” when I was taking some photos of the three of you one day. SO cute.), no, tea, Nanny, Boo (Nanny and Poppy’s dog, whom you ADORE), and shoes (“choos!”). You can also make animal sounds when we ask, “Big Boy, what does the [animal] say?” for the dog, bear, cow, monkey, snake, lion, tiger, horse, frog, owl, and wolf. (The wolf is my favorite; you lean your head waaaay back and say, “aaaOOOooooooo.”) You also use the animal sounds to tell us when you see an animal (“moooo”-ing when you see a cow, for instance). We can’t even get you to TRY to say the animal names; you just use their sounds (or signs). We know a few toddlers close to your age who are saying a lot more words, and I keep telling myself that all kids develop at different rates, that you’ll do everything at your own pace. But – just like every other Mom on the planet – I secretly want my kids to be geniuses and to do everything faster (and better!) than all the other kids. And I can’t help wondering if teaching you Baby Sign Language has slowed your verbal development. Everything I’ve read on the subject says that signing can actually improve language and vocabulary in babies and toddlers, but I’m a Mom; so, along with wanting my kids to be the best and the brightest, I’m also biologically programmed to question and rethink every choice I make concerning you and your sisters. This Motherhood thing is a tough gig, Son.
Speaking of being the best and the brightest…you’re doing SO well with the Baby Signs. You now sign drink, eat, star, more, bird, cat, ball, banana, fish, hot, flower, light, help, ice cream, hat, please, and thank-you on a daily basis. You also know the signs for moon, apple, bib, quiet (sshhh), all gone, book, baby, down, and cereal. What has most amazed us, though, is that you’ve actually made up some signs yourself, to communicate your wants and needs. You have your own signs for band-aid, butterfly, sticker (the adhesive kind. We started giving you stickers as an alternative to band-aids. Your band-aid addiction was getting out of hand.), toothbrush, hair brush, and where is it? (or where is he/she?). You’re so cute when you’re signing, and everyone who sees you do it is thoroughly impressed.
You still love your books. You love to be read to several times a day, and reading a book (or two) is still part of your naptime and bedtime routines. I’ve insisted on keeping all your books where you can get to them, so that you have access to them whenever you want. That’s been good for you, but not necessarily for the books. Turns out when you devour a good book, you do so quite literally. The phrase “not in the mouth!” echoes through our house pretty frequently.
You’re still quite the Mama’s Boy, still burying your face in my hair for comfort. When I carry you on my hip, you almost always put your arm around my shoulder and hold on to a handful of my hair. And when you’re tired and cranky, you get downright hysterical if you see me pulling my hair up into a ponytail. I usually let out an exasperated sigh, pull my hair back down, and then pick you up so you can bury your face in it. It’s absurdly sweet – and a little weird, maybe – the way it comforts you and makes you so giddy. You’re a strange, wonderful little boy, Big Boy.
Watching you with your sisters the past few months has been … … well, it’s been downright fantastic. They are SO sweet with you, and you are SO crazy about them. They’ve been awesome, helping me keep up with you and your runningrunningrunning, or watching you when Daddy’s at work and I’m trying to cook supper or grab a shower. And when I see the three of you playing and giggling together…wow. It makes my heart swell with love and pride. Big Boy, your Daddy and I are so very thankful that God has blessed us with you and your sisters. No matter how exhausted or exasperated we get, we love you so very much, and we’re so proud of you.
Happy Birthday, my Big Boy, my Little Man. I love you, Baby.