Being what he needs

He cries through dinner.

No. He screams through dinner.

In fact, there really ISN’T a dinner because of his screaming.

He fights me through washing up, brushing his teeth, and putting on his pajamas.

He runs away when I ask him to get into bed, screaming “NO!” in the way only toddlers can.

Each attempt to read a book is met with a snotty, “I don’t LIKE that one!”

Each attempt to sing a song is met with a whiny, “No, the DIFFERENT song,” even though he can’t tell me which song the “DIFFERENT” song is.

Once the lights are off and the door is shut, the stalling tactics start: requests to go potty, get a drink, get a tissue.

Then more tears. More screaming.

More exasperated sighs and muttering under my breath. I just don’t want to go back in there. I’m spent. I have nothing left.

And yet.

Every time I think I’m done, the dam of frustration built up in my chest cracks just enough to fill me with a little bit more of whatever it is I need to go back in there and be what he needs me to be, give him what he needs me to give.

This time it’s a cuddle in the rocking chair. Just one more song. Just to sit with him a little longer.

Does he deserve it? Probably not. But seeing his little hand in mine, his eyes fluttering as he fights off sleep — open, shut, open, shut — reminds me of the gift he is, the gift I probably don’t deserve either.

35 months

JR,

I’ve always told people that kids can just TELL when you’re about to send them up the river because right at that moment, their behavior changes and you remember why you intentionally entered into the parent-child relationship to begin with.

As I mention in last month’s later, we were experiencing some challenges with you. Well, right after I hit publish, we entered an almost month-long phase of things being pretty easy. Save the epic temper tantrum you threw today, that’s basically how things are right now.

Don’t get me wrong, you still have your moments, but overall you’re just a really enjoyable kid.

***

Daddy went on a couple trips this month, which was interesting. The first trip was just for two nights, but the second trip was for FIVE. It was very hard to take care of you by myself for that long, but we eventually found a rhythm. I think his next trip will be much easier on us. And looking back, it was nice to have you to myself for a while — although I was VERY happy when your Daddy got home.

***

We’ve just hit a great milestone as far as potty training goes. I won’t get into specifics, but I think soon I’ll be able to reallocate the funds that we used to spend on diapers.

***

Your verbal development continues to amaze me. Very rarely do I not understand what you’re saying, and we have the longest conversations. You also continue to parrot a lot of what we say, which can be quite humbling at times.

***

Imaginative play is your favorite way to spend time (other than playing “baseball” with your Daddy). You love to play restaurant and store, and LOVE when you get to be the cashier/serve because it means you get to use a PEN! or type on the COMPUTER! However, your customer service skills leave a little to be desired. Remember, it’s “What can I get for you?” not “What do you want?” and “Your total is XYZ” not “Ok, gimme some money.” We’re working on it.

***

Last week we had a conference with your teachers because we’re getting ready to move you up to the preschool class. They had nothing but lovely things to say about you, particularly about how sweet you are with the other kids. Apparently you’ve been showing good leadership skills, organizing games of Ring Around the Rosie and corralling all of your friends when it’s time to go inside. I was worried they were saying that you were bossy, but they assured me that you’re always very kind about it. They also mentioned that you have zero interest in getting involved in physical confrontations with other kids (no hitting, biting, etc.); you just walk away. That’s a great thing for parents to hear. They are SO SAD for you to move up to the next class, and we are equally sad to say goodbye to them. They’ve done such a fantastic job caring for you over the last year.

***

One of your big events this month was going to the pumpkin patch. You and I went with your friend Jack and ran into your other friends, Sam, Ailey, and Myles while we were there. Up until this year we had always gotten our Halloween pumpkins at the grocery store, but I figured that since you’re getting older, it was time for the real deal. You had a fantastic time and even took a couple runs through the hay bale maze they had set up at the pumpkin farm. We had a really fun day and I can’t wait to do it again.

Obviously our visit to the pumpkin patch means we’re getting ready for Halloween, and you are extremely excited. You asked to be a “red fishy” this year, and I actually managed to make your costume (I’ll post pictures after the big day). We’ve been talking a lot about the order of how things go with Halloween: first you pick the pumpkin, then you carve the pumpkin, then you eat the seeds, then you put on your costume, then you go trick-or-treating, THEN you eat candy. You’d like to eat the seeds and candy now, but you’re doing a very good job at being patient.

And let’s be honest, you’re doing a very good job at being everything an almost three-year-old (!!!) should be: chatty, infuriating, loving, emotional, hilarious, and so sweet.

Way to go, kid.

Love,

Mama

MAH-MEEEEE

You guys. My kid is killing me these days. KILLING ME.

I suppose I’m due. I always said that since JR was an incredibly easy baby, he was surely saving it for when he becomes a teenager.

I guess I just underestimated when the butt-headedness would show up. Because, boy howdy, it’s here. And it’s trying to slowly melt my brain.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my son entirely. But I feel like it’s a bad sign when I see a commercial like the one below and start hollering at the TV, “That’s it! They understand meeeeeeeeeeeee!”

comeherecomeherecomehere

The 2:53 mark. That. THAAAAAAT.

All the rest is incredibly accurate as well. If you’ve had a week like we have, you should watch it and laugh. Because laughing is more productive than screaming “OH GAWD TODDLERZZZZZZZ.”

Attaboy

JR is a bit hesitant when it comes to new experiences. Add in his aversion to getting messy (we’re indoor people, ok?) and it can make some of the typical summer pastimes a bit challenging.

I talked to his teachers about his cautious nature at our conference a couple weeks ago, and they assured me that it was nothing major to worry about — just a personality thing that we would be grateful for when he’s 16 and his friends are off acting like boneheads as he’s saying to them “Whatever, dudes, I’m not trying to die.”* They also added that he always does whatever it is you’re asking him to do…he’s just going to do it on his own time.

Well, today was apparently his time.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a little boy who is in love with the sprinkler**. And for whatever reason, I could not be more proud of him. Way to go, kid.

*We call this “being the dad” which, funny enough, his dad totally is in his group of friends.
**While he’s pretty into running through the sprinkler, he was more stoked when I turned the water down a bit so he could observe how it moved and clean off his flip flops. Nerd.

Beep beep beep

So JR’s teacher does this thing where at the start of the day she has the kids “turn on their ears.” They all hold their chubby little toddler fingers up to their ears and say “Beep beep beep!” Should one of the kids act out a bit or ignore an instruction, her first course of action is to ask him if his ears are on. I think this is genius; it’s such a nice alternative to saying “Are you listening to me?” 18,000 times a day.

After seeing her do this, I decided we would try it at home. Two great things have happened as a result:

1) JR listens better. We are all generally less frustrated and I feel less like a nagging wench.

2) In the event that JR *doesn’t* listen, leading to us disciplining him and him inevitably crying over getting a time out, 9 times out of 10, he will shout desperately through his tears “I WANNA LISTEN WITH MY EARS BEEP BEEP BEEP.”

It’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever.

Big changes

I was going to write a big, reflective* post about this, but, quite frankly, I’m busy hanging out with my awesome kid. So know this:

Monday was my first day as a (mostly**) Stay-At-Home-Mother. I’m stoked and totally terrified. But it’s going to be awesome, I just know it.

Yeah, he’s pretty excited too.***

*You can read about my official exit here.
**I’ll still be working for our church on Wednesdays mornings and Thursday afternoons. JR will be in daycare on those days — at least until we’re too broke to afford it.
***Yes, he’s holding an iPhone. We removed all the apps off of my old one, and he uses it as a camera. You can check out his photos here.