Deep thoughts

We’ve had a lot of interesting car conversations lately. Deep thoughts from a preschooler’s mind are so complex, lovely, and innocent, while at the same time plunging deeply into some heavy issues.¬† In both of these conversations, I got a glimpse into the complexity of their thinking and how they are processing the world–until the very end, when it all came full-circle back to preschool speak ūüôā

Me: “We need to rush home, the plumber is waiting in our driveway! I don’t want to keep him waiting long.”

Charlotte: “Is the plumber a boy?¬† Because you could say SHE is waiting…”

Me:¬† “Yes, it’s a man.¬† I just spoke to him on the phone.”

Charlotte:¬† “Are all plumbers boys?¬† Because I think some should be girls.¬† It’s not like only boys can do that job… Actually I KNOW that girls can be plumbers.¬† Because girls can do anything!”

Me: “Yeah, you go girl!¬† You could be a plumber when you grow up!¬† Fix pipes and heating systems and drains…”

Charlotte:¬† “Well, I already decided that I’m going to be a princess.¬† So I’ll be too busy.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Baxter: “Mom, where are I gonna get died some day?”

Me:¬† “WHERE will you die, or WHEN will you die?¬† Can you say your question again?”

Baxter: “I’m asking you WHERE is the place that I will die?”

Me: {loooong pause.¬† deep breath.¬† Death triggers my anxiety like nothing else}.¬† “Well, I don’t know the answer to that exactly, not for you.¬† Many people choose to die at home.¬† Some people die in a hospital.¬† But it won’t be for a long long time.”

Charlotte: “Why do people pick to die at their home?”

Me:¬† “Well because they are comfortable there, and they feel safe.”

Baxter: “Okay. I think I will die at home.¬† Charlotte, would you like to die at home?¬† I think I would.¬† I like it there.”

Charlotte: “Ummm, I’m not really sure…”

Baxter:¬† “Well, I decided.¬† I’ll die at home.¬† That sounds fun.”

 

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Dear Baxter: Happy “birf-day”, you’re “tree!”

My tiny, speedy little peanut is three.  THREE.  We are officially and totally out of the baby years.  We got rid of your crib last week, and you potty trained yourself last month.  Board books are being replaced by beautiful picture books with long stories and intricate characters.

But you and I share a special ritual, one that I hope will never change. ¬†When I drop you off somewhere, when you get hurt, or when we say goodnight, you always insist on a “kiss, a hug, and a high five”. ¬†You came up with this yourself, and you are the enforcer every single time. ¬†It’s your little way of checking in, making contact, and reassuring yourself that you are okay to go off and do whatever it is you’re going to face.

While I certainly know that 15 year old Baxter, or 32 year old Baxter is not going to insist on a kiss, a hug, and a high five, I hope this foundational bond always remains strong between us. ¬†Three-year-old Baxter needs to ‘fuel up’ on your mom’s love and affection before going to do something solo: before being dropped off at a new preschool, or staying overnight at Nanny and Grampy’s, or going to sleep in a big boy bed. ¬†It buoys your confidence, and it cements the knowledge that we will see each other again soon. ¬†With your kiss, hug, and high five, you can conquer anything.

When you do become 15, or 24, or 32, ¬†I know that a kiss, hug, and high five won’t be enough to solve your relationship dramas, your work frustrations, your existential crises, or your maturational dilemmas. ¬†But remember what had prepared you for these momentous events and difficult conundrums: your mother’s love and never-ending belief that YOU CAN DO IT, and that you ARE okay. ¬†As a little boy, you could conquer anything knowing that I was right behind you–figuratively, or literally. ¬†This will never change. ¬†No matter how old you are, no matter what your situation is, your mother is right behind you. ¬†Likely cheering for you, and probably marveling at your bravery.

You see, you don’t NEED this check in with your mom. ¬†You just think you do. ¬†[And to me, that is everything. ¬†Somebody once told me that the greatest gift you can give a parent is to make them feel¬†needed. ¬†You do that quite well.]

You are quite an affectionate little rough-and-tumble man. ¬†You clamor for my lap anytime you get hurt or scared. ¬†You love to “have snuggles”, and you regularly tell us “love you moon and back, momma”. ¬†You love to have your hair stroked and your back rubbed, and every time you suffer an injustice you want to read a book to make yourself feel better. ¬†One year old Baxter didn’t seem like he was going to grow into a cuddle bug, but you are. ¬†And I love it! ¬†I never knew I could put off so many chores when you ask me to “sit longer” or “talk about the day”.

My hope as you grow up? ¬†That you will always know how, and be brave enough, to ask for help when you need it. ¬†That you will not stifle your fears, or ignore your concerns because you think they are silly or baseless. ¬†That you will not struggle within your own head because you’re afraid to let someone else in. ¬†Instead? ¬†Ask! ¬†Discuss! ¬†Strategize! ¬†Worry together! ¬†Then take a leap knowing that someone will be there on the other side to meet you: to celebrate, or commiserate. ¬†Someday your partner or spouse may fill that role. ¬†But never forget that your momma can do it too. ¬†I’ll always be there with a kiss, a hug, and a high five: to fuel you up, and send you off. ¬†Because I know you can do it. ¬†You just have to know yourself that you can do it too.

Kisses, hugs, and high fives to the moon and back,

Momma

Dear Baxter: Happy Birthday 2 You!

Dear Baxter,

My little man, my Bam Bam, my last baby is two! ¬†We are moving out of the baby years for the last time….and wow, was that a blur.¬† It was a rough year for all four of us, those months between 1 and 2 years old.¬† You seemed to pick up every illness on the block, and barely gained any weight as a result.¬† You simply couldn’t–and wouldn’t!–eat because you never felt good.¬† There were nights when all four of us dissolved into tears at dinner: you from the exhaustion of being repeatedly begged to eat; Dad from the frustration of having the same fight over food every night; me from the constant worry that you were going to be forever harmed if you didn’t eat RIGHT NOW; and Charlotte from being a mere pawn in the midst of all this stress.

It wasn’t pretty. ¬† It was a rocky, demanding, anxiety-provoking several months, bookended by visiting¬†every medical specialist in the greater Portland area.¬† Thank god that is all behind us now! ¬†And all for naught: you are healthy!

And what do we have, now that it’s over?¬† An incredibly joyful, easy-going, mild-mannered, and affectionate little man!¬† If you’d asked me 9 months ago what Baxter would be like at age two, I couldn’t have guessed it.¬† I couldn’t have even dreamed it!¬† Some of the highlights of two year old Baxter:

-Your shyness when you take the risk to gently start singing.¬† As soon as someone clues into your tiny song, you get red-faced and try to hide! ¬†This is such a different side of the “Speedy” and “Bam Bam” Baxter that we all know.

-Your fearless love of jumps (pronounced “dhumps!”) and your incessant need to jump off anything you can find: big, small, round, or dangerous. ¬†“Mommy!¬† Dhumps!” you shout, most often followed by “I fall!” ¬†and a silly laugh.

-The day you rushed up to me after school and said “Mommy!¬† Banana.¬† Fall down.¬† Mess, floor.¬† No bib!¬† Dirty!” ¬†I got the more coherent version from your teacher (your banana fell out of your sandwich at lunch time, got messy on the floor, and you ended up with sun butter all over your shirt because you forgot a bib), but it almost didn’t matter.¬† You had a vibrant memory of something that had happened 4 hours ago, and you couldn’t WAIT to tell me when I picked you up.¬† What language!¬† And what presence of mind!

-You are starting to love books just like your big sister.¬† Just tonight you gently pushed a Thomas the Tank Engine book onto my lap, curled my fingers around¬†the cover, and asked “Read?¬† Mommy?” ¬†You love to point out who is sad, who is hurt, and who is funny in these books.

-You love men!¬† At your birthday party when you needed help, someone said “Take it to Bunna, she can open it.” ¬†You walked right past Bunna and asked Papa for help.¬† When Nanny and Grampie leave our house, you run straight to Grampie and ask for kisses.¬† When we talk about going to Memere and Papa’s house, you quickly correct us and say “No! ¬†Just Papa’s house!” ¬†And Uncle “Trabass” is basically your idol.

For all the frustrations and tears we shared last year, we’ve come out on the other side much better for it.¬† You love your sister “Shart” to death–you follow her around and just die if you can make her laugh.¬† You’re really good at mimicking her, following her directions (at times) and pushing her down (at times).¬† It has been beautiful to watch your relationship develop. ¬†Last week when I caught sight of you two holding hands across car seats in my rearview, my heart nearly burst.

You are still loud and proud, and you still do many things a mile a minute, but you have slowed down in some regards.¬† You can play with trucks for hours, and you entertain yourself with trains every evening.¬† You wake up in the morning needing a solid five minutes of cuddles, and at bedtime you ask to “No, just sit” awhile longer when I try to put you in bed.¬† You fool most people with your rough-and-tumble, all-boy personality; we get the best snuggles, wet kisses, and long-lasting hugs at home.¬† You are still a Bam Bam, but you’re an affectionate little monkey too ūüôā

Keep on rockin’ in the free world, Bud. ¬†You’re loving every minute of it, and so are we! ¬†Love,

Mommy

Dear Buddy Boy: you’re one!

Baxter Boy, Buddy Boy, Baximus Maximus, Bam-Bam,

We already have a slew of nicknames for you, and it’s been the fastest year of my life. ¬†I’m writing this on the eve of your first birthday, and remembering back to that day a year ago when you joined our family. ¬†It certainly has been a whirlwind…on fast forward…with a lot of chaos.

When I found out I was pregnant with you, I felt a strange combination of shocked and scared. ¬†My other baby was still a baby, and here we were, going to have another baby! ¬†But the moment you made your speedy and extreme entrance to the world, and when I heard Dad say “It’s a boy!”, I felt such an intense elation. ¬†I didn’t know how much I wanted a boy until I heard Dad laugh those beautiful words in the hospital room.

‘We did it’! I kept thinking. ¬†‘We did it, together, and now I have a son!’ The “we” was you and me…we made it through an exhausting pregnancy and a fast and scary delivery–and now you were here to complete our family. ¬†We were instantly more full, as though we didn’t know we were missing you until you actually arrived.

“Yeah right”, you’re probably saying to that last statement. ¬†“Moms have to say stuff like that”. ¬†But you needn’t take my word– the sheer proof of this is Charlotte’s instant and unending love for you. ¬†From your first week at home she has looked after you, comforted you, brought you diapers and toys and eventually snacks and teething rings, and made you laugh more than any of us combined. ¬†When you cry, she says “Oh, Baxter’s crying”–not a complaint, but empathy–and she looks for ways to help. ¬†When you laugh, she aims to make you laugh harder. ¬†And when you try something new, she is your biggest cheerleader. ¬†“Oh, THERE you go!” she exclaimed when you fell to your knees, but got right back up. ¬†“Are you feeling better Baxter boy?” she asked this afternoon, when you woke up from your nap with a runny nose. ¬†She has to be able to see you at the¬†dinner table, so that she can show you how to do things, and see if you like the new foods you try. ¬†And SHE was the one who deemed you “Bam Bam”, because you’re “always banging around on things”. ¬† She’s your protector. ¬†And her wholehearted acceptance–no, overwhelming love–for you is the surest sign that you have made us complete.

You are a determined little monkey, and you don’t do anything cautiously or quietly. ¬†I’ve never read anything about the circumstances of one’s labor and delivery being an early indicator of ¬†their personality. ¬†But for you, Bam Bam, the way you entered the world was the exactly the way you live in it each day. ¬†You are fast, you jump feet first into anything new, you’re loud (for a little guy), and you don’t take no for an answer. ¬†You’re a risk-taker, you work hard at things, and you are not shy to make your needs known. ¬†I have never seen a baby do such a fast army crawl, or take to eating finger/table food as quickly as you. ¬†Your current favorites are macaroni and cheese, salmon, anything orange, and bananas. ¬†You eat at least one “monkey food” every single day, and more if we let you!

But this, my Buddy Boy, is the side you don’t show to everyone: you are sensitive. ¬†You need some comfort and contact amidst your chaos. ¬†You’ll be busily ripping the playroom to shreds, but after ten minutes you’ll crawl around to find me, bury your face in my knees, and give a big deep sigh. ¬†Sometimes it doesn’t last, and you’re back to the mayhem in another 30 seconds. ¬†Sometimes it does, and you lay comfortably in my lap to clap my hands or fiddle with my cheeks. ¬†I love these moments. ¬†I love them because you interject cuddles with craziness, and those cuddles are often reserved just for me. ¬†You may not always stop to hug your mom, but you used to. ¬†And it makes my day, every single time.

So, Bax, you are now one. ¬†Leaving babyhood, and becoming a toddler. ¬†People say it happens before your very eyes, and they are right. ¬†I blinked, and you went from a blob to a boy. ¬†You’ve made us all laugh and you’ve made me lighten up quite a bit in the past year, so I can only imagine what the next one will bring. ¬†I can’t wait to see you take your first steps, start to talk with us, and grow into your very big personality. ¬†I know you’ll do it all with that mischievous little twinkle in your eye, blowing your raspberry spit face at us. ¬†And we’ll laugh right along with you!

Ready with big cuddles anytime you need them,

Mom

Baxter is 11 months old!

I’m actually posting Baxter’s 11 month pictures in a timely fashion! ¬†Gasp! ¬†But that’s because we’re basically all quarantined at home today due to hand-foot-and-mouth disease that is running through our house hold. ¬†Yuck. ¬†High fevers, nasty rashes, no appetites…it started with Charlotte, went to Bax, on to Fred, and I’m ok…so far.

In any case, we have to stay away from other children, so we had plenty of time for photos today!  Between ten and eleven months were a BIG change for Baxter:

  • Still has only two teeth, and weighs in at 16 lbs. 6 oz, or in the 1%. ¬†Tiny peanut!
  • Finally figured out how to crawl on all fours instead of his inchworm/army crawl. ¬†He can crawl over/under/around/inside/outside anything that presents an obstacle!
  • Is slowly starting to cruise on furniture, but really cruises with his push stroller toy. ¬†The boy is fearless. ¬†FEARLESS! ¬†He will push that thing like a bat out of hell, fall, and get up and do it all over again!
  • Babbles more and more, loving to make different tones with his voice, and plenty of yells
  • Grunts a little gremlin grunt and blows raspberries at anyone that will look at him
  • Thinks Charlotte is the funniest person on the planet. ¬†On a recent trip to the beach, she repeatedly threw Dad’s flip flop at his face, and he repeatedly cracked up.
  • Did his first sign! ¬†Signed “more” when eating, and uses it sporadically.
  • Has a definite word/sound for Dad. ¬†“DA! ¬†DAAAA!” he will shout upon seeing Fred. ¬†Still no consistent “mama”.
  • Loves Pippa and gives her lots of hugs
  • Went on his first family camp trip to Sebago Lake for a week with my family. ¬†Baxter loved the water, the beach, crawling around the house, playing with everyone, the food…basically everything except sleeping. ¬†Which he did not do much of. ¬†He preferred to cry his brains out each night, prompting Fred and I to take him home a day early and let everyone else have some peace and quiet!
  • Favorite foods are applesauce, avocado, pasta, watermelon, fish (sometimes), and crackers

Baxter is ten months old!

Highlights from 9-10 months (how did we get another ten month old???  Time moves faster with each month!)

  • Favorite activities include ‘planking’, rolling away from diaper changes, and army crawling like a wounded soldier all around the house–especially to chase Charlotte or Pippa
  • Still has just two bottom teeth
  • Eats huge meals! ¬†Shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, toast with peanut butter or hummus, applesauce, yogurt with raspberries, oatmeal, banana are the current favorites
  • Took his first overnight trip to visit Uncle Ted and Aunt Nina in Michigan: 2 days to get there, a few days at their house, and 2 days to get back. ¬†He was an absolute rock star in the car, hardly fussing and sleeping most of the drive! ¬†While there, he started to try/practice climbing stairs, and he and Charlotte played together for the first time with a bucket of new toys.
  • Distinctly says “Da!’ for Dad, and he used to say “mama” but it has since disappeared. ¬†He also has a particular shriek/scream for Charlotte that I can’t even replicate here! ¬†He is starting to babble more and more each day.
  • Went for his first swim in Sebago Lake. ¬†We put him on a beach towel, he caught sight of the water, and he army crawled it right into it! ¬†He loves splashing, flailing about like a fish, and especially taking baths.
  • Favorite activities include playing in the sandbox (and eating fists of sand), rummaging around in buckets full of toys which he can empty out, throwing things, army-crawling with things in his mouth, and generally eating/tasting/licking anything he can get his hands on

Baxter is nine months old!

My little man is now closer to one year than he is to the newborn phase. ¬†I just remarked to Fred the other day that Baxter’s first year is seeming to go by so much faster than Charlotte’s first year did! ¬†We are busier than ever, and the minutes literally slip away when you are ‘on’ 12hours a day. ¬†There is no time to check email, sit down for a quiet moment, eat something in peace, or even go to the bathroom alone. ¬†Every minute revolves around some little person and their intense needs. ¬†Come 8pm, Fred and I barely have enough energy to talk to each other, and sometimes just relish the quiet. ¬†But it’s all worth it when you have a little man that laughs a giant hiccuping¬†belly laugh when all you do is look at him.

And yes, Baxter is a little man: “Baximus Maximus”, “Baxter Boy” or “Honey boy” as he’s known around here. ¬†The sweetest moment I have seen in their relationship was just this morning: Charlotte was trying to watch The Jungle Book movie, and Baxter was sitting 6 inches from her screaming and whining for a solid 6-7 minutes. ¬†She finally just reached over to him, rubbed his head, and said “ohhh Baxter Boy, are you sad?” ¬†He calmed at her touch, and they both went on watching the movie. ¬†What tenderness and care–and endless patience–she has for her brother!

The big changes between 8 months and 9 months:

  • crawling! ¬†well, more like army-crawling-inching across the floor. ¬†the boy has some strong arms, and the front of his clothes are getting all frayed from being dragged across every rug, hardwood floor, grass, and driveway on our property!
  • can pack away a LOT of food! ¬†tonight he ate fistfulls of salmon, a whole bowl of applesauce, some mashed cauliflower + potato, and finished it all off with 1/3 of a banana. ¬†and THEN went directly upstairs to nurse!
  • is starting to pull himself up on anything he can find
  • loves Pippa the cat–whenever he hears her in the room, he must find her and inch on over!
  • he babbles a lot, and says “mama” quite often…but I’m still not sure if it’s intentional or not?
  • By the way, now that he’s mobile? ¬†There is NO HOPE for cute, stationary monthly photos anymore. ¬†The shots below are the best we could do!