Thirty-six months

To be totally accurate, the title of this post should be 37.5 months, because that’s how old David is. I meant to write this when David turned three, back on August 16, but things are still running a bit behind around here.

David will forgive me, I hope, especially since one of huge reasons it’s taken me so long to write this is because he has given up naps. I know, I’ve mentioned it before. And I’m sorry if it’s gotten repetitive, but HE STOPPED NAPPING! Naps are a big deal. Guaranteed, ask 20 moms when their kids stopped napping and prepare for a RANT. Especially if the mom whose kid stopped napping at 18 months is sitting beside the mom whose 5-year old still naps.

I consider myself a pretty laid-back mom, but I do have three standards I’d like my kids to at least aspire to. 1) attend Virginia Tech 2) win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and buy Mama a horse 3) take a nap.

David. You’re only three years old. You better buy Mama a really pretty horse to make up for this.

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Something happened to David in the past few weeks. He’s suddenly looking older, more like a kid and less like a toddler. And the baby part of David is entirely gone. And it’s not just me, people tell me all the time that his face is looking more mature. He’s losing his chub and really looking like the big boy he claims to be.

When David turned one, I said that if I could tell you just one thing about David it would be that he loves balls. Now, if I could tell you just one thing that would help you understand David, it’s that he needs something in each hand all the time. It started with two balls he carried around and slept with when he was sixteen months old. Then it was Thomas and Percy, for a long time it was Lightning McQueen and Mater, or a Matchbox car. Whether we’re at the park or the museum or sitting on the couch watching TV, David’s hands are full. It’s one of those things that makes him David.

There’s such a huge difference between a two-year old and a three-year old. He’s still the same rambunctious kid who loves to figure out the rules and then light them on fire, but now he’s learning how to negotiate and manipulate me, too. Just the other day David walked into the kitchen and said, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Mommy?” He’s never said that before, and I looked at him and said, “I don’t know, David, what are you thinking?” And he replied, “I’m thinking we should watch some TV!”

And, you know, that’s actually not what I had been thinking, but I felt like I had to turn on the TV, right? Because how cute was that?

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David challenges us all the time. When I remind him that he needs to listen and obey he reminds me that he ALREADY LISTEN AND OBEYED TODAY! If I tell him to not bang on the door again, he’ll look at me and softly pat the door because, well, I hadn’t told him to not pat the door. If we tell him to not hit his sister, he’ll shove her. “But Mommy I did not hit her, I did not!” I have to be on my toes to keep my little Pharisee in line. And, I know, we’re supposed to be working on the heart issue here at play. I know exactly what the heart issue is. It’s that he NEEDS TO TAKE A NAP!

David is growing in independence; he’s potty-trained, he can buckle one of the buckles on his car seat, he feeds the cat and carries his plate to the kitchen after dinner. He can put on his Crocs by himself, and he prefers one green and one blue. And after he puts each on he says, “Mommy, are those the right feet?”

I want to remember those little toddler phrases so badly, like when Tom comes home and David holds his hand as he walks into the house and asks him, “Daddy, do you ‘member Mommy? Mary ‘aginia’s here, do you ‘member Mary ‘aginia?”

Or how he doesn’t really understand the concept of “yesterday” or “tomorrow” but he uses the words all the time. “But, Mommy! Yesterday tomorrow we had cookies!”

He also, somewhere around two-and-a-half, started talking baby talk. Nothing made my blood boil like asking my son, who just started talking in intelligible sentences, a question and him responding with “GECKO!”

“Gecko” was his baby word of choice, and the first night that he made up “gecko” I could.not.handle it. Tom said it was one of the first times he’d really seen me lose it. He’d ask me, “Hey, Mommy, want to say ‘gecko’?” and I would respond by stabbing my eye with a fork. Then one day it just hit me, why don’t I just say “gecko”? What’s the harm, really? So I said it. And you know what? It was actually sort of silly. And that’s life with a three-year old. They remind you that being silly isn’t so bad after all.

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I feel like I’m watching David unfold; he’s making real friendships and his personality is emerging for real. It’s all such a privilege to watch; such a challenge to support, encourage, and guide. David is funny, smart, a bit introverted and a bit wild. He’s like me and he’s like Tom, and then there are things that make us roll our eyes and say in unison, “He definitely gets that from you.”

Dear David,

For the past year or so, our bedtime routine has looked like this: while I put Mary Virginia down, Daddy put you to bed. Recently we’ve switched, and Daddy is in charge of getting Mary Virginia to sleep while I read you a book and say prayers with you, put on your blankets just the way you like them, and give you one last sip of milk. I never realized how much I missed that time with you until we started it again. We read books and during the quiet time while you relax into my lap, I stroke your hair and rub your arms. Once you turned around and said to me, “Mommy why are you petting me? I’m not Brigham.”

It’s because I love you so much and I want to savor you. You’re growing so, so fast.

You just turned three but you’re completely obsessed with turning four. We have a good friend who’s four and he chews gum. You really wanted gum, too, and we told you that you could have some when you turn four. Gum = age four. Even when I’m chewing gum, you ask if I’m four. So when we talk about your next birthday you remind me that you’ll be FOUR! And you’re so excited!

David, I love watching you grow. It’s the most exciting honor I’ve ever had. But you just turned three, let’s not rush it, ok? Let’s stay three for a while and live it up. At some point this year I was steamrolled by the fleeting aspect of parenting — all these milestones, they only happen once and then they’re gone. Kids move on and keep growing. What I’m saying is, you only get to be three once, and I want to enjoy every day of it. You’ve got plenty of time to be four.

Love,

Mommy

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Naptime hostage

David has taken almost zero naps since he turned three. We still go through the motions, though, every day. After lunch we read a book, turn off the light, close the blackout shades, and I cover him with his blankets just the way he likes it — white blanket first, then green blanket. I give him a pep-talk about napping, then shut the door.

I’ve always considered myself a cynical person, but for some reason I still have hope that this will pass. One day he’ll go back to napping and I can go back to eating Cheetos without having to hide the bag.

David stays in his room, awake, for an hour or so. During that hour I take him to the potty maybe four times. He plays with toys, throws things against the door, calls for me. Tonight Tom suggested that we Google some tips, and I told him that Pinterest is full of busy boxes and quiet time ideas for toddlers. I’ve tried several things, but David has been stubborn since he the day he was born. Why would David work a Popsicle stick photo puzzle when he could instead wrap the cat up in the curtain? Why would he build with sponge blocks when he could do this: shoot cars under his door, then try to get them back with a piece of a baby tub?

I don’t know when I’ll give up on the nap. Actually, yes I do. It’ll be when he stops needing one; when he stops getting that glassy-eyed look at 1pm and, skips his nap and then morphs into his Grumpelstiltskin alter-ego at 4pm. But until that happens, we’ll remain mutual hostages, holding each other captive and raising the stakes as the clock ticks down.

In case you couldn’t quite hear what he says at the end of the video, it’s “Someone get me out.”

On fear, security, and the first time in my life I’ve been tempted to get a Rottweiler

Sometimes I joke that the best way to describe my house is “looks like we just got robbed.” In my living room there are toys everywhere, books strewn off the shelf, a chair over-turned — it’s the normal scene in my house.

It’s always been just a joke until last week. I went to pick David up from school, came home and we all ate lunch. We’d been home for at least a half-hour before I realized our house had been robbed.

Robbed. For real, burglarized. Someone broke into our home, went through our belongings and stole things.

I’m saying it over and over mostly for me — because it still seems surreal. Bizarre.

While I was gone, someone climbed through a window and went through our stuff. They didn’t get much, just a few electronics. Since I wasn’t gone long they didn’t have much time to empty us out. The way things were left — our TV and computer were both unplugged and poised to be carried out — it seems like I caught them in the act. I pulled up, brought the kids inside, and then ran back out to the car to get a few bags. And, who knows, maybe for a few moments a stranger was inside with my kids. Maybe if things hadn’t been so hectic I’d have heard footsteps or a door slam. I’ll never know and, frankly, it doesn’t matter because we’re all safe. But that’s the sort of thing your imagination runs away with.

We live in a safe neighborhood in a modest home. It was broad daylight and our doors were locked. And I was only gone for 30 minutes. 

When I realized what happened, I panicked and threw all the cushions off our couch looking for my phone — I called Tom and ran outside with the kids while he did what you’re supposed to do — he called the police. In less than five minutes Tom was home and the police officer had arrived. Thirty minutes after that David was in the front seat of a police cruiser learning how to turn on the lights.

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Like I said, they didn’t get much, and they didn’t vandalize our home at all. The biggest loss was our camera. We have a nice DSLR. I mean, we had a nice DSLR. And now the quality of photos I post on the blog is going to take a steep dive.

They also took a really old iPod that we use as a sound machine for David when he sleeps. The sound is a source of comfort for David, and when we tried to put him to sleep without it, he cried and asked me to PLEASE! PLEASE FIX IT! Did you plug it in, Mommy? Check it!

We think they could sell it for maybe $20. Max.

We have insurance, and nothing that was taken was irreplaceable — I’d even already uploaded all the files off the camera. The things aren’t important, but the aftermath is the worst part. I’m from a small town and am pretty trusting, but Tom and I are both uncharacteristically paranoid now. We spend more time than normal double-checking and re-checking. We still wonder if things are missing or moved that we haven’t noticed. The sense of security we value feeling in our home is marred. Instead, we feel vulnerable and violated. I keep imagining someone in our home, looking at the pictures on our walls and harming us anyway. They stole something out of my child’s bedroom.

We’re shaken up enough that we’re making some decisions about our home security. In the mean time, I’m still processing what happened. Recently, though, it’s occurred to me that perhaps it’s good to be shaken occasionally — to be reminded that things are just things and this world we live in is temporary; it’s not our home. The security we feel in our living rooms behind locked doors should be held loosely and our trust placed in the unshakable grip Jesus has on us.

Tom and I are angry, but we’re thankful because this could have been worse, much worse. We’re thankful but we’re also anxious, and praying that this will teach us to trust God anew.