October 30, 2015 by 8junebugs
Dear Gray —
Child, you amaze me. I’ve said it thousands of times already, but watching you grow and learn is one of the most joyful adventures of my life.
We’ve been having conversations with you for so long now that it seems out of character when you’re quiet…or a dead giveaway that you’re up to something. You have an uncanny way of tucking away little pieces of information for later use, like when we tell you that you have to wait until you’re bigger to sit behind Mommy in the car, instead of in your car seat.
“I am bigger now!” you announce two days later, parking your butt in the seat you won’t sit in without extra protection for years to come.
“This is for grown-ups, buddy,” we’ll say about something like, say, a screwdriver.
“And for little guys,” you’ll add, because it’s the focus of your attention at the moment.
There are lots of things you do that melt my heart, but saying, “Let me help you, Daddy,” “Mommy, please come play!” and “Let’s go see!” are right at the top of my list, along with the very fervent “YES, I DO!” we get when you are very pleased with a choice you’ve been given.
“Almost!” “Not really,” “I do not like _____,” and “That’s just silly” are at the bottom of my list, even though you learned them from us.
As with most 2-year-olds, you’re very proactive in trying to control your world. One morning, not too long ago, Daddy said “Good morning” and you answered with a complete rundown of what you expected to do that day.
You are full of certainty and hope and confidence!
Another morning, also not too long ago, I said, “Good morning!” and you smiled and said, “I did not want to sleep.” You have internalized our suggestions about rolling over and going back to sleep if you wake up before the sun does. From your response, I take it you gave our suggestions great consideration at 6:04 am and felt you should explain why you chose another path.
I told you that was all right, and then we took some time to look at the “pitty sunrise” outside your window. But now that you are exercising your agency — often, and with gusto — we are beginning to appeal to your longer-term goals.
— “Gray, do you know what happens when you sleep? That is when you grow bigger and stronger.”
— “Gray, you are learning so many things! We need to let you rest so you can learn even more things.”
Lest you think we’re trying to manipulate you, these are both true. So there. And if your tantrum level wasn’t a dead giveaway of your fatigue, you also slur your words and wobble when you refuse to sleep, which is sad and a little scary.
You recently decided you were done with “daytime snooze,” in addition to being opposed to snoozing at night. You have a cycle that gives you a solid night’s sleep every three or four days, but right now you are most often up before the sun. Without a nap to catch up and with the (initial) increased time and effort to put you down at night, we are…well, kiddo, Daddy and I are very, very tired right now.
You’ve moved to a toddler bed; we found an airplane-themed one, with a propeller(!), to help you want to stay in it, because the first round with the converted crib was a disaster. Sometimes you are an angel and sleep until 6am, and you wake up with smiles and kisses. “My clock is yellow!” you’ll announce.
As often, though, we hear “Clear prop!” at 4:30am, and those are some difficult days, indeed. You do try to go back to sleep — I’ve seen it! You really do try. But your mind has snagged on something and your body has jumped on board, and not even your own obvious misery (and my most reliable lullabies) can rein them back in.
We’re working on it, kiddo. The schedule we have now is working better for you, I promise. Hang in there.
It’s worth noting, son, that you are the child of introverts. Daddy and I like to have company (including you — you’re our favorite!), but we need downtime to recharge, and you already seem to be the same way. Right now, Daddy and I are “on” with you for a lot more hours than we used to be, including some in the middle of the night, and there isn’t a lot of time to reset our energy levels.
For your part, you do seem to be like us, and it’s only logical that you would be, but you’re also a toddler who wants interaction even when you kind of don’t, really. It frustrates you, and it frustrates us, and we have had some rough days lately.
We are also starting to lean heavily on the Spirited Child guidance, which should come as no surprise. You are the Spiritedest, which is much easier to work with when we’ve all had enough rest. But we’ve known since you were an infant that you were a little bit “more,” as they say. An old friend of mine has said that raising intelligence is a beast. Her kids seem really cool, though, so I have confidence that we’ll make it through this eventually.
Also, the woman who wrote “Spirited Child” also wrote a book about kids and sleep. She doesn’t know you, but you’re all over that book, too, pal. I leave these links here as references, both for other parents who find themselves here and for you, if you choose to have kids of your own. Your spirit is tremendous and there’s a lot of stuff in the media right now about how important it is not to try to crush a spirited kid. But it can be hard, some days, to parent a child whose most dominant traits will serve him better when he’s a grown-up. We’ve had a lot of adventures and/or disruptions lately, and it takes a while to settle everyone back in.
Lately, you have been asking us questions in a particularly proper-sounding tone. “Mommy, are you all done eating your breakfast?” “Daddy, are you ready to have your coffee?” (When he is, you get to watch some videos together.) “Rodney, are you ready for your dinner?”
And then, because Rodney doesn’t speak People, you will follow up with, “Yes, you are! Come on, Rodney!”
Honestly, kid, you’re a born cheerleader. Sunset has been coming earlier and earlier, as it does, and you spend countless post-dinner, pre-bedtime minutes egging on the streetlights in their efforts to come on. “Come on, lights! You can do it!”
You have an amazing laugh and an intense and intentional attention to even the smallest things. You are going to be the child who notices that Santa and Mommy have the same handwriting, or use the same wrapping paper. You are already the 2-year-old telling your 4-year-old friend, “Yes, I will help you, Patrick!” You observe, you notice, and you try to help. Mostly!
You love parks, as long as they have playgrounds. You still love construction equipment and all things that go. You have a deep and abiding love for the boathouse — heaven help us if we start our Sunday Estuary Walk somewhere other than JLAC. Still, this tickles me. You’re my kid, after all. It makes sense that you would love being by the water. I’m thankful we live in a place where we can do that so often.
I keep finding myself telling you, as we take a turn in the hills and happen upon yet another spectacular view of the Bay, that we are so very lucky to live where we do, where there are so many wonderful things to see and do and learn, whether you’re 2-and-a-half or pushing 40. I hope we never take it for granted.
I love you, little buddy. Happy 2-and-a-half!