from colic to frolic: the first days of preschool

Dear Eddie,

You started school this week.

This seems a mundane fact to most of the world; children all over started school during the past month. But to me and your dad this is a HUGE milestone.

We’ve been talking about it for a long time, you and me. You have been so excited to start school! To learn! To be a big kid! You have told me repeatedly, “me and Brookie and Evan get to go to school because we are four. Not anyone else. Just us.”  Clearly, going to school separates the three of you from the “babies” who will stay behind at daycare.

I was Ok with it all…excited even…until meet the teacher night. We signed in at the office, found your room, and looked around. We sort of met your teacher. She talked to you, and you hid behind my leg.

Then we found your locker.

Starting PreschoolMy heart skipped a beat.

My baby was going to school.

Four days later, it was time for your first day. Sunday night I carefully followed the directions your teacher outlined in the papers that were sent home: I put a change of clothes in a large ziplock all with your name on them; I labeled your backpack; and I set out your first day clothes.

Then I put you to bed. We talked and giggled and guessed what school would be like until we both fell asleep in your bed.

In the morning, as I was getting ready, you showed up in the doorway of the bathroom.  All ready to go, with a big smile on your face.

“It’s your FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!” I exclaimed as I swooped down to hug you.  A lump caught in my throat knowing I would not be one of the moms there at drop off giving your little hand one last squeeze.

But your daddy was there.

His work is just a block from your school, so he walked over on his lunch hour to meet your carpool for the first day. He knew it was important for you to have one of us there for such a big occasion–the start of your formal education.

first day of preschool

In case you haven’t noticed, your dad’s range of emotions aren’t always visible in his reactions to things, but this milestone has been a big deal even to him. After drop-off, he emailed me to let me know how proud of you he is.

He told me you were so brave at drop-off. No tears, only smiles. Before he left, he whispered in your ear to be kind to the other students and to listen to your teacher…and that he is so very proud of you. Because he is, you know.

Both of us brought up the fact that it simultaneously feels like just yesterday and a life-time ago that you were our tiny colicky mess of an infant.  Just yesterday that Daddy would plop you in the Bjorn and walk up and down and up and down the dead end with you to try to help calm you.

off to school with his best friend, Brooke.

off to school with his best friend, Brooke.

And now seemingly out of nowhere, you are a regular little guy. You are a person who can tell us why you are sad or happy or angry.

You can call us mean or tell us you love us.

You can make friends.

You can make crafts.

You can make choices–good and not-so-good.

When I asked you what you did on your first day you reported, “I played on the playground and I listened to my teacher.”

When I asked you what you listened to her say you told me, “I don’t know mom. That was a long time ago.”

And so it begins.

first day of preschool

You are in school.

As a teacher this makes me proud, but as your mommy this makes my heart fly with joy.

Today I looked at the seniors in my classroom and imagined them all as four-year olds starting out in preschool and I actually teared up a bit.

It happens so fast.

You were just a baby.

And now you are a kid.

I love you, Eddie.  No matter where you go from here, it will be wonderful.

Love, Mommy

The Way You are Now {Eddie Age 4}

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You are four.

Suddenly, you look so tall and big to me.  The traces of “baby” are still there, but they take a trained eye to see. A mother’s eye.

As a baby, you were so chubby. You walked bow-legged because your thighs were so chunky.  Now you have long, lean limbs. Your run is not a reckless toddle, but is marked with fast strides.  Once in a while you will still request that we pick you up, and your legs wrap around your dad’s or my waist easily and your arms around our neck.

When I hug you, I feel muscles and pointy bones and lanky boy. The squishy baby fat that I used to raspberry and nuzzle are gone.

But I still see baby in your face.  Your cheeks still carry the chubby baby boy softness.  When you smile, those dimples are still there.  When you concentrate, your lips still pucker out.  Your relaxed face just begs for cheek kisses and neck snuggles.

You protest it more than you used to, but still end up giggling.

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You are four.

Your vocabulary is booming and every day you say things that surprise us.  When you were two and only had a handful of words, none of them being “mommy”, people said to me, “just wait, once he starts, you’ll long for the quiet days again.”

They were wrong.

Once you started, I realized I could listen to your stories and questions and observations forever. I want to memorize your little boy voice. I want to freeze time because already you are starting to change.  You’ve learned to make the “L” sound so you don’t “yike” things anymore, you “like” them. You’re still getting used to that “L” sound in your mouth though, because you tend to over-emphasize that beginning “L” on words. When you complain that something is going to take a “long” time, your little tongue comes out of your mouth to ensure that you will get the “L” in “long” right.

Sometimes you slip and miss the “L” sound if it’s inside a word. “Yellow” is still “Way-yo”. Sometimes it’s “Way-lo” though.  “Yellow” is one of the only words you confuse your “Y” for a “W” though. But you also are not so good with “Rs”. If an “R” begins a word, you use the “W” sound. If it’s in a word, you will either replace with an “L” or sometimes a “W”.  Tomorrow is “To-mallow”.  And your “TH” sound sounds more like and “F” so “thirty” and “forty” sound the same.

But my favorite is that you sometimes sound like you have a bit of a Boston accent. “Yard”, “park”, “arm”, and and other words with the short “a” sound sounds “Bostony” when you say it. I’m pretty sure I will have to video this because I never ever want to forget how hard I laugh when you tell me “daddy’s armpits are stinky”. It’s funny, but it’s even funnier how you say “arm pits”.

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You are four.

You are hilarious. Often I call you my Funny Boy or my Silly Boy. You just love it when I call you “My boy”.

You make people laugh with your funny observations, like when you pointed at the large glass-front of the Gentex Building and told Grandma that is where the penguins live. You were totally mater-of-fact. It did not even cross your mind that you were pointing at the front of a factory building that makes car parts.

Your Grandpa laughs so hard when you are around.  Every time we are over there he says, “Eddie, you are a funny kid!”  And he is right. You talk to people and ask questions so easily.  You have no problem asking people to play with you.

I think this is why you make friends so easily. And if kids don’t want to play with you, you go do your own thing. But kids rarely turn you away…especially the girls. Since we live on the dead end, you talk to every kid who rides his/her bike down this way.  This is how you met your newest friends who live up the road from us. Each day you watch for them to get home from daycare and then you beg me to let you go ride your bike to their house. I always say yes because I can see their driveway from our driveway and their backyard from our side yard.

But I needed worry. You come home and ask every time they ask if you can do something new: play on their slip n slide, jump on their tramp, or ride bikes.

You make me proud with how responsible you are about following rules and getting permission from adults.

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You are four.

While you are a cautious person by nature, you are not afraid to try things at least once.  That is so brave.

You talk to kids and ask them to play. This past weekend I watched you try raw broccoli from a veggie tray without anyone asking you to. You didn’t like it…I saw you spit it into the trash can when you thought no one was looking. But you tried!  You tried chip dip at Granny’s house and decided you loved it. You tried pita chips and hummus.

You tried swimming lessons and gymnastics.

When you wanted to hold a baby duck at the Farmer’s Market last week, you bravely sat next to kids you didn’t know, said excuse me, and got to hold one.

It makes me smile.

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You are four.

You are kind and helpful, many times without being asked. You are quick to help Charlie when he falls or to show him how to do new things. You are even quicker to help your younger cousins…especially babies.  Your kind heart doesn’t stop there, though. If daddy or I have a job to do, you are always asking what you can do to help. You like to help at stores and to carry groceries in and to swifter the floor.

And you always want to help me in the kitchen. I like that. I hope we spend lots of time together in the kitchen. In fact, when I plan our weeks out, I always think of something to bake or cook that you can help me with.  You take a lot of pride in helping others, but you  never get boastful.

And you are so thankful and gracious. As people were leaving your birthday party, you told each person “thank you for coming to my party,” without daddy or me even asking you to do that. You thank us for everything you get from the big (your birthday party and your bike) to the small (buying Monsters University cereal and bananas).  You even thanked God during your prayers for giving you such a nice family.

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You are four.

You are growing up so fast, yet you are still so small.

Sometimes we forget that you are still just little, and sometimes we forget that you are not so little anymore.

You get dressed on your own, but you still sometimes need help getting your shorts straight. You love to control the tablet for stories, but you still hold my hand when we get to the part of the “not so good streets”. You can ride your bike, but you still need training wheels.

Four is so big.

But it is still little.

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You are four.

Super Four

PicMonkey Collage

Dear Eddie,

You turned FOUR on Sunday.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how you can already be four.  Four years old.  Every time I thought about it this weekend, my mind went racing back to the operating room where we first met.  Me all splayed out on a table, strapped down as if in my exhaustion I cared enough to flail about, and you all chubby and slimy and mad and cold.  Good times, Ed.  Good times.

Your birthday this year has been especially exciting.  It’s the first year you understand upcoming events and could count down and look forward to your big day.  Ever since daddy had his birthday in December, you have been asking if you were next.  You had to wait through Charlie’s party, my birthday, Kingston & Kyrie’s party, Joe’s party, Trisha’s day, Addie & Lexi’s party, Aunt Sarah’s day, and finally…FINALLY…you were next.

We talked a lot about what you wanted for your birthday: a new bike, superhero stuff, Legos, the baby doll at Target that actually drinks her bottle, that pancake making pan that you saw on an infomercial.  Every time you saw something you loved you announced, “mom! put that on my birthday list!”f

We asked you what kind of party you wanted for your birthday and you said, “um, maybe a pool party with my little pool and my cousin Jack and my friends.”  So we planned it.  We sent out invitations.  We bought a new inflatable pool that could accommodate more kids. We bought a slip n slide. We bought a “baby” pool.  You wanted “hot dog on a bun” for the party, so we went to Gordon’s and bought a case of dogs and a ton of buns and fixin’s.  You helped me pick two HUGE watermelons.

Your birthday party was on Saturday.  The day before your birthday.

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On Friday, we had some unexpected guest cancellations.

I often wonder what your first memory will be, Eddie.  Most people have their first memories around your age.  I really hope you don’t remember the Friday before your party. I was disappointed to the point of heaving tears.  I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with Grandma while you and Charlie played.

But I know you heard me.  I saw you climb to the top of your clubhouse and stare at the field behind the house.  You don’t miss much, Eddie.  After I got off the phone, you came and sat next to me and said, “I don’t have any friends, Mom?  Is that what you told Grandma?”  The tears got hot in my eyes all over again.

“No, buddy. That is not it at all!  You have SO many friends who love you LOTS!  It’s just that some can’t come to your party anymore.  Big stuff came up and they have to take care of their big stuff.  But they are so sad they can’t come.”

“But Jack is coming?”

“No, buddy. Uncle Chris just let me know that they are going camping.  No Jack.”

He looked down at the ground.  “It’s Ok, mom. We will have fun. It’s my party!”

The next day it was indeed your party.  Our neighborhood friends, Kelsey, Bentley, and Harry came at the last minute and you and Bentley had an absolute ball splashing and chasing each other.  Uncle Mike and Uncle Cody both brought their swimsuits in case you needed some fun…but they didn’t even have to bust them out.  You have have an awesome family who loves you so much.  Aunt Kenzie even showed up though she had originally thought she would miss it.

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Unprompted you thanked everyone for coming to your party, and you thanked daddy and me about a hundred times for your party and for hot dogs.  You made us so proud, Eddie.  So proud.

On your birthday you woke daddy up with your new Batman Mask on.  It was hilarious.  Then we had cinnamon rolls followed by a treasure hunt to your gift from us.

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When you saw it, instead of jumping on, you rushed over to me and threw your arms around my waist. “OH THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!  FOR MY BIG BIKE!”

Then you did that excited little dance you do where your arms get flappy, and you jumped on in your jammies. Daddy took video, but since we are all in our jammies, we will keep that gem off the blog.

That afternoon, Daddy “swam” with you in the pool and showed you how to use the slip n slide.  After your brother’s nap we went to Red Robin (yummmmm!) because that is your favorite and immediate choice when we ask where you want to go.

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You got the corndog (because three hot dogs on a bun over the course of two days was not enough hot dog for you, I guess) and polished it off claiming LOTS of room for ice cream.  Last year you shared your ice cream.  Not this year.

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When we got home, you announced you were STARVING for some birthday cake…and what do you know, I happened to make you the lemon cake you requested!

We lit the candles, sang happy birthday to our four-year old, and you blew them out.

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Later that night, I put you to bed.  It was my night, but if it hadn’t been, I would have asked daddy if I could do it.  I need the snuggle and talk time with you.

We used daddy’s tablet to read Oh The Places You’ll Go and Happy Birthday To You both by Dr. Seuss.  You were almost asleep by the end of the second book, so when we turned it off and you rolled over, I quietly whispered, “Happy Birthday, Eddie.”

Barely audible, you whispered back, “thanks, mommy.”

“I love you,” I added.

“I love you better than the wide world,” you managed.

“Oh. I love YOU better than the wide world too.”

And then you fell into the steady breathing of a boy who had loads of excitement and sugar.  Of a little boy who just turned four and feels so big.

I lay there even though I knew I could get up. I replayed your birth day in my head.  I let the tears wet the pillow under my face.  I apologized to you again for being so sick your first year of life.

And I thanked you for being the little buddy I never knew I needed.  For being so smart and funny and silly and witty.  For being strong-willed and bossy and whiney and emotional.  For being so much like me.

I don’t know if you will remember any of these events, but my heart will remember them always.  And my prayer is that even though the actual events may fade from your mind, they feeling of being so loved by so many will always be there with you.

Because so many people love you, but I?  I love you most of all.

More than the wide world.

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Love,

Mommy

my favorite eddie

Eddie,

In just over a month you will be turning three.

I just looked back at my posts from this time last year and the year before, and I was clearly sad that you were getting older.

This year I don’t feel sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like this whole deal where time steals my babies from me and replaces them with big boys.

But this year, pride is definitely choking out any sadness I feel about you getting bigger and older.

Eddie Bear, I am so fricking proud of you I could burst.

Yes, we have hard times.  You are almost three, after all.

You have a very, VERY strong stubborn streak and you are incredibly independent.

You want to do EVERYTHING “my own self, mommy.”

From helping me make juice to putting on your shoes to getting in your car seat to brushing your teeth.

No help is needed until you have tried and failed.  And even then, instead of jumping right in to do something for you, I try to encourage you to try again.

I was always such a quitter as a kid (and as an adult, if I am being honest).  It’s because I had no faith in myself that I could do anything.  I don’t want you to feel that way about yourself.  You are so bright and hardworking; daddy and I encourage you to do as much as you want to do on your own.

Because of this, you have become my helper.

Thursdays are now when Daddy has class, so you and I take care of Charlie together.   And soon, you will be home with me three days a week throughout the summer, and I can tell already that you and I will be a team.

Whenever we decide to do something, you say, ‘are we good to go?  let’s DO this!”

I die from the cute every time.

Most of the time you are very aware of your baby brother’s needs too.

If I am making dinner and he starts fussing or crying, you will jump over, put his pacifier in, and sweet talk to him.  Then you’ll announce, “I fixed baby Cha-wee, mommy.  Not you.  I.”

It makes me proud that you are so caring.

Eddie, you have no sense of being “too little” for anything.  And I love it.  If you see someone do something, you want to do it too and it never occurs to you that you might fail.

I wish I had this confidence.  This self-assurance.

You amaze me, Mr. Bear.

This past week you announced to me that you could read.  You opened How the Elephant Got His Trunk on my Nook and started telling me the story just by looking at the pictures.  You even got all the dialogue exactly right.

You sure can read, Eddie.  I am so proud.

Today you threw yourself on me and hugged me tight and announced, “you’re my favorite mommy, mom.”

I melted all over.  And then squeezed you so tight you squealed.

“You’re my favorite Eddie, Ed.”

And you giggled.

I love your giggle.  I love that you laugh at ridiculously obnoxious stuff like I do.

I love that daddy rolls his eyes at us when we are giggling about ridiculously obnoxious stuff.

I love that you have my same weird, quirky sense of humor.  You know.  The one that drives daddy crazy.

Yes, Eddie, we have our hard times, but you and I?  We are definitely a team.

I am so excited for you to turn three.

Because I am so proud of who you are.

And now?  Us being silly.  Because it’s our favorite.

Bud, you know I love you when I will post totally unflattering pictures of myself on the interwebs just because I love how much fun we had.

Don’t ever take yourself any more seriously than you do now…at age 2 and 11 months.

I love you.

You are my favorite Eddie, Ed.

Love,
Your favorite Mommy

mommy lessons

Dear Eddie,

I know it seems like on the day your baby brother turns 10 days old, I should be writing to him.  But it’s YOU, sweet boy, who has been on my mind and heart.

Your brother?  He is doing great.

And I feel like I owe a lot of it to you.

You see, Eddie, when you were born, it was traumatic.  For both of us.

I labored all night and day with you.  Had everything been ok, you should have come into the word by noon on your due date.  But things were not ok.  My body wasn’t shaped right.  You weren’t coming out right.  And so many other variables.

Things went downhill and I had an emergency rush C-section.

You know the story.

Anyway, people were with us in the hospital nonstop.  They loved to love on you.

Daddy stayed until late at night to watch the Tigers play and to cuddle you.

Those three days in the hospital didn’t really involve you and me being together.  I think I fed you once.

Our bonding was difficult.

I was stressed out, anxiety-ridden, and depressed.

You were colicky, gassy, and all around a mess.

WE were a mess, Eddie.

I was learning to be a mommy and you were learning just to BE.

As time marched on, I got better and so did you.  We figured each other out…mostly because we are just so much the same person.  And now our bond is something so strong and unique.  We are a powerful pair, you and I, my Eddie Bear.

And that is why I am writing you today.

You taught me everything I know.

My days in the hospital with Charlie were so easy.  Our bond came quickly.  I don’t cringe when he cries.

I am more patient with everything.

We have bonded instantly.

But instead of celebrating this, I spent days after coming home from the hospital re-living yours and my experience.  The guilt of how hard it was with you crashed down on me so hard, I could hardly breathe.

You suddenly seemed to be so grown up…and I had missed these precious first few months of your life.

What kind of mother was I?

As I cried and mourned and grieved and worked through it, you came to me.  You told me, “don’t cry, mommy.”

You dried my tears with your little knuckles.

You asked me every day when you came home from daycare if I was “feeling bettah, mommy?  How your owie?”

You crawled on the couch and leaned close to me in the evenings for a good cuddle before bed.

And you made me realize…

It is easy with Charlie because you taught me how to be a mommy.

You made me a mommy and you guided me in the ways of being a good mommy.

Yes, I made mistakes.  Yes, you definitely let me know about them.  And yes, that is a big downfall of being the oldest (boy, do your dad and I relate to that).

But because of YOU, my sweet Eddie Bear, I can be calmer, better with Charlie.

Your brother is 10 days old today.

And he has YOU to thank for a mommy who knows what she is doing.

Thank you, my Eddie.

Thank you for helping me every single time I am sad.

Thank you for being the light in the all-consuming darkness.

Thank you for needing me.

Thank you for making me a mommy.

I love you.

 

mama’s boy

Dear Eddie…

In less than a month you will be 2 years old.

I have lost count the number of times I have come over to the computer to work on this post.  You are so full of energy that I just get a couple words typed and you want me to come and play.

mama! play!

You are loving being in daycare full time.  So much so that I am sad that you will be going down to one day in only a week’s time.   But I am so excited to get more time with you.

This morning I carried you out of your room to watch cartoons and I was struck with how big you are getting.  You legs hang down past my waist and you are able to wrap your arms around my neck and hang on.

When did this happen?

Your language is exploding.  I remember just a few short months ago worrying that you weren’t saying much.  That you had no word for me.

Now EVERYTHING has a word…or at least a sound.  You play with cucks (trucks) and baws (balls) the most.  You point out caws (cars), cucks, and buhps (buses) wherever we go.

You ask about pampa and ama (grandma and granpa) and anny (Granny).

You wonder “where go?” about da-ee (daddy) and oos (Louis) and mama.

You are constantly chattering in both words and sounds.  You make your trucks go “beep beep” and you your cars go “voom voom!”

If the cat throws up it’s “ewwwww.  dad-ee!!!”

You ALWAYS want your cocks (socks, he he) and shuz (shoes) on to go explore your world.

You want to run and jump and kick the ball.  And you want to do it the fastest, the highest, and the best.

Music is your best friend and you would spend your days dancing and twirling and bopping your head if we let you.

Words and letters are your new passion and you can’t go to sleep without me or daddy reading ouhks (books).

But the most glaringly obvious thing?  You are not a baby.  At all.

You eat with a poon and fak (spoon and fork), you take off your clothes at night, and put your shoes on when we are going somewhere.

You can get in your carseat in my car all by yourself and you don’t need me to cut up your fruit or cheese sticks anymore.

Many people are telling me to cut your hair or start getting you away from your pipe (pacifier), but I can’t do either.  Those are the things that make you my little boy.  They still make you look “baby” to me.

I love to watch you light up a room with your smile.

I love the sparkle in your eye when you are doing something you love…or that you think might be naughty.

I love watching you figure things out…even when you get frustrated because it reminds me of myself.

I love to scream and laugh with you about the most ridiculous things ever.  And then watch daddy roll his eyes.

You are so brave and so outgoing.

But I love it when you need me.  When you hide behind my legs until you are comfortable somewhere. When you lay your head on my shoulder because you need some mama cuddles.  When you press yourself so close when we are reading books that it’s like we are one person all over again.

Every day you become more animated and more…you.

Sometimes it takes my breath away to see myself so perfectly reflected back in you, and yet…you are so uniquely you.

You have the athleticism and mannerisms of your daddy, but you have my quirky personality and lack of patience.

But your sense of humor?  That come from both of us.

Just today you laughed at your own tooter.

It is so cliche to say that I never knew love until I had a child, but it’s true.  No one can prepare you for this new love.  Because it is new.

I love our family and your daddy and our friends, but not like I love you.

I love you because you changed me.

And I never want to go back.

In less than a month you will be two.

I miss my baby, but I love my little boy.

I am so proud of you.

No matter how old you get, you will always…always…be my special buddy.

My Eddie Bear.

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