May 23, 2017 by 8junebugs
Dear Fiona —
You are 4. FOUR. You are a gorgeous giant of a child with so much wonder in your eyes that seeing hurt in there, too, breaks my heart.
I’m addressing this to the name you frequently take on at home and have for about 6 months. Sometimes you want to be called John the Paramedic. Sometimes you want to be Axel from the Axel and Daddy show. Sometimes you’re Sienna, or Heru, two other friends from school. When you’re at school, you’re Fireman Sam — they’ve gotten you to settle on one identity for that environment, which makes it easier for them to call you what you would like to be called.
On the one hand, this is just one sliver of the evidence we have of your tremendous imagination. You are in constant play mode — you take on all kinds of roles and invent all sorts of games every single day.
On the other hand, it all started because some kids made fun of your name one day. I witnessed that and saw the confusion on your face. Every since then, getting you to “just be Grayson” has been a struggle. It has gotten better, little by little. Daddy and I can now call you Gray or Grayson as often as not and we’ve talked about how important it is to use real names sometimes, like at the doctor’s office or if you need to talk to a police officer. At first, you would have a huuuuuuge fit when someone used your real name; now, that rarely happens, and only in pretty predictable circumstances.
Your friend Sienna likes to call you Grayson to get a reaction out of you, and we’ve talked about how that’s something that people do sometimes, for all kinds of reasons. You have a complicated relationship with Sienna — to quote Teacher Sara, you play together very well…until you don’t. You’re the same age and I think you both have a lot going on inside, but are still learning how to deal with all of it.
(Sienna and I also have a special relationship. She reminds me, in the best way, of Ramona Quimby.)
Your last year has been pretty packed emotionally, kiddo, especially at the end. You’ve had to adapt to Mommy being pregnant, then more pregnant, then EVEN MORE PREGNANT and really tired. You had to shift gears when Grandpa came to stay while we were getting ready to welcome Alexander into our family. You’ve had to adjust to being a big brother and sharing Mommy with a loud, wiggly creature who can’t even play yet. And I know, too, that you’ve been missing Nana and Papa; you’ve accepted that Nana has been sick a lot and that’s why you haven’t seen her in a long time. When we do go to visit soon, we’re going to have to have some conversations with you that we’d hoped wouldn’t have to happen so soon.
We know you’ll be okay, but we’re really sad, anyway. The upside of our being really sad, though, is that you are a sensitive little guy who offers countless hugs to help us feel better.
You’ve had a full year at your playschool and I don’t know where we’d be without that loving community to help us navigate these early years. You’ve made lots of friends, and so have we. They’ve helped you to put words around all the big feelings you have and they’ve helped us to maintain more routine and order than we could’ve managed with you at home full time. Come August, you’ll be going four days a week, which should help smooth the eventual transition to kindergarten five days a week next year.
It seems impossible, but that’s right around the corner, sport.
You’ll probably remember hearing this a lot, but in case you don’t, you are a fantastic big brother. You adore Alexander and want to see and play with him almost all the time, although you have some trouble remembering your own strength. He grins at you with so much love and fascination that it melts my heart; on the flipside, nothing makes him wail louder or faster than when he sees you really upset. We’re trying to get you to save your massive, highest-decibel fits for when something is really wrong — the loud whiny ones over waiting five minutes to get to a place that is five minutes away? Those do not qualify. Basically, kid, if you’re gonna make the baby cry, you’d best make sure it’s worth it.
As we skid into 4, we struggle with discipline more than ever. (Your YouTube exploration is over, kid. The rugrats on the “familypreneur” shows you’ve enjoyed exhibit behavior I don’t need you to mimic.) The reward chart is somewhat successful. Time-outs and -ins are slightly less successful, depending on the day; more effective is putting your tablet in time-out. We don’t exactly limit screen time — you’ve shown that you can manage that relatively well yourself — so eliminating that freedom gets your attention. Most of the time, once you’ve calmed down, you ignore the tablet altogether anyway.
Once you’ve crossed the line, though, there are days when you just push and push and push. You get this from me, just as you get your tendency to direct everyone’s play from your father (guess who always got to be Luke when they played Star Wars?). I have that same tendency: “That tooth feels loose. How far can I push it before it comes out?” “That paper is due Monday. How late can I start it and still make the deadline? Am I willing to accept a lower grade if I turn it in Tuesday?”
I’m sorry, buddy. This is a difficult impulse to control, even as a grown-up. I recognize it and I’ll help you as much as possible, but…oof. Well. Some things you have to learn by doing.
According to your last trip to Dr. Katie (another ear infection — two this year, after none since birth), you’re 42 inches tall and weigh about 45 pounds. You still hate trying new foods, but we’re working on it. I seriously don’t care much about feeding you a lot of chicken nuggets and apples and cashews, but your life would be a lot easier if you expanded that list.
You’re totally potty-trained but still sometimes wear a pull-up at night, just in case. You love helping and usually set the table every night and put away the silverware when I unload the dishwasher. You talk a mile a minute and bust out Hamilton tunes at the drop of a hat.
You are loud and fast and smart and loving and complicated, and we love you more than all the stars in the sky.