I knew things would be a little difficult around here at some point with the kids just being 2 1/2 years apart. Everyone always said things like "oh yeah, it will be tough when they're little but so worth it when they're older" and I would just sort of nod and smile. I'm the youngest in my family and my siblings are very close in age (15 months) so I knew something about waging war against parents/siblings and things evening out later on. I just didn't know exactly when the "difficult" would set in.
Well, I think it's now. Mr. 3 1/2 is a mess of emotion, transition, anxiety and the continual testing of his limits and Miss "Don't Even Think About Calling Me a Baby Anymore" is ON.THE.SCENE. She's arrived. She's here. Watch out. That's quite a combination.
Here's a status report on the kids, both for the sake of keeping our faraway family informed and for the sake of my sanity in seeking a little perspective.
Jackson, age 3 years, 233 days (but who's counting?):
• He just started preschool last week. It's a small, Waldorf-inspired school that we adore. They even went peanut- and tree nut-free for us. Love it.
• He loved school for the first 2 days last week but I was called in for the first "preschool rescue mission" today due to him being "extremely sad." From my interviews with him this afternoon, I *think* I've deduced that it was a result of him not liking the homemade pancake they made for snack and not understanding that his cheese sandwich that he brought for lunch (a separate meal that occurs later, after snack) would not be taken away and replaced by said pancake. I can see why this would have been hard for a 3 1/2-year old to discuss with his teacher.
• He slept almost perfectly for about 3 years and oh, 170 days or so. But recently has lost the ability to fall asleep alone or stay sleeping alone. This is really, really, really hard. Mostly for Dan who is the resident Sleep Buddy for the J-Man (the thinking is that since I've already been with Jackson all day, if I have to "deal" with more of this all night long too, I may lose it...not too far off mark, actually). But it means that Dan is captive in the evenings and can only sneak away for a short while to "have a life" (yeah, right) before he is called back to duty at about 1:00 a.m. We lost it a couple of weeks ago and got all mad at him about it but then realized (and felt really bad about it) that, um, loving our child and holding him while he sleeps is not the end of the world. ((sigh))
• He's tall. He's skinny. I do double-takes all the time thinking that he looks about 5 years old and it freaks me out. He can put his shoes on by himself (though "can" and "will" are not the same thing), he can get dressed by himself (see previous parenthetical reference), and he's *almost* able to do the whole potty thing alone (toilet-trained for many moons now, though he has always demanded parental assistance, mostly due to mental block and lack of confidence issues...).
• He climbed a rock-climbing wall at a playground yesterday--unassisted--that was meant for elementary-aged kids. The wall was tall (TALL) and I wouldn't have let him attempt it if I had seen it. But he was the only kid there and just scaled it, waving hello from the top. He excels in solo situations where he has time to think on his own. I need to remember this about him.
• Despite his recent mental and physical growth spurts, he's struggling to grow up. Two steps forward, one step back. This isn't a shock, as many kids his age do this, just fascinating to watch. He actually requested that I carry him in the sling on my back multiple times this weekend. Um, okay. I love the closeness so, no problem. (It was a little weird with his gangly legs hanging down my sides.) He is clearly attempting to reconnect with us in the "old" ways as his life continues to go down "new" paths.
Amelia, age 13 months, 30 days:
• Miss "Don't Even Think About Calling Me a Baby." This is non-negotiable. She walks. She runs. She climbs (everything). She imitates. She laughs. She shouts. She tattles. She instigates. She understands. She points.
• She sleeps really well for her age. Goes down almost perfectly every night, sleeps for 11 hours with only 1 or 2 possible (quick) wake-ups for a "snack." I'm tired of nursing though and want to be out of this phase, like, NOW. If she would just eat/drink more by day then I'd feel so much better about night-weaning...
• She's my early-to-bed, early-to-rise kid, for sure. While Dan's stuck in Jackson's room in the morning from the night antics, I'm usually found across the hall on the twin mattress on the floor in Amelia's room attempting to coax her back to sleep at 5am or just at least "sleep supervising" her while she plays. She's notorious for sticking her fingers in my eyes and mouth and shouting at me to get me to wake up though. Uh, good morning?
• She's BRAVE. My kids totally fall into the birth-order stereotypes of the first-born being cautious and the second-born throwing caution to the wind. We have to keep an eye on this one. I found her stuck on the second shelf of her changing table yesterday because she was trying to crawl through to the other side. Stuck. As in, screaming and I had to pry her out. She's a handful.
• Even though I technically have a break from two kids while Jack's in school twice a week, it's not a break with Amelia around. I tried to go grocery shopping with her at SuperTarget but she insisted on walking and pushing the cart with me and then wandered off when I took too long looking at a product on the shelf. And don't forget, she's FAST. Yes, I'm that lady running up and down the aisles of the store looking for her cutie pie who is giggling and thinks it's a game to run from Mommy.
• She's not even 20 pounds yet but she seems big to me too. Her light-colored curls almost fly off her head, her blue eyes melt strangers and her mouth is bursting with new teeth (too many at once usually). She clicks her tongue on her teeth all the time and dances to every piece of music she hears, even just the intros on NPR (she likes "All Things Considered" the best, remember Jackson's favorite?).
See? Perspective. That was helpful for me to just write that all down. I was going to go on and on about all of the parenting books I'm reading now, all of the changes we're making with positive discipline/re-thinking our parenting and how excited I am to be co-teaching an ECFE class this year, but I think the time for this post is just about up. (Points for reading this far!)
My name is Mom. Sometimes it totally sucks and I wonder what the hell I was thinking but mostly I'm really proud to be called that. My kids rock.
p.s. You all know why I don't have any current photos of Jackson...
p.p.s. Dan just pulled two small wooden toys from the dishwasher. Amelia. Total Amelia.