I’m so thankful for you, little man. You have been bringing lots of sweetness to my days lately. Yeah, we still have scuffles, and it seems there is nothing I’m more accustomed to saying these days than “Don’t ask why when Mommy tells you what to do.” But you are just my favorite.
This month has been a journey for our family as we’re adjusting to new routines. We’ve been bouncing around to various churches and you are clearly a little confused, and not sure you like it. The other day we were at one church where I was having a tough time keeping you and Merry quiet enough for the tone of the service so I eventually put you in the nursery. You bawled. “We want to worship with you!” Daddy has a new church job here in town and we’re trying to decide where the best place will be for you and Merry & me to land. I think you’re a little annoyed that we’re not going to church with Daddy all the time like we used to.
The other big routine change has begun just this week. Four days a week Daddy leaves at 5:30 a.m. to work and doesn’t return till almost 6:00 p.m. He’s started leaving you and Meredith little presents: drawings made with cheerios and raisins at your places at the table. The other day the first sound I heard from the basement was your sweet voice at the bottom of the stairs, “Mom? What is my present today?” You couldn’t wait to come find out.
I loved the other day when you woke up from a long nap and came straight downstairs, feeling a little sad, and snuggled up with me on the couch. Snuggling is a completely legit activity in our house these days, and while you haven’t always been a champion snuggler in the last few years, you seem to be getting the hang of it. One day we snuggled under a blanket and watched the Switchfoot movie, Fading West. You are completely taken with what you saw: surfing! It completely captured your imagination. It’s fun to see you feeling intrigued by and curious about something that we saw you feel nothing but fear for this summer. You’d literally wail and shake at the beach, and you’d grab up all your toys with this frantic, spooked anxiety and run for high ground. The surf scared you. But now you watch with amazement and you giggle when the surfers go under and you promise that you’re going to do that someday.
Go for it.
Yesterday was a snuggle day, too. I thought you were just tired but it became clear through hindsight that you were every kind of hungry. Despite having had a decent breakfast and a snack at playgroup, you said not one single happy word the entire two hours at our friend’s house. Finally I had to remove you for some proper solitary snuggling, just the two of us. Afterwards you just chilled on my lap (still whining). When we got home I fixed you lunch and you had completely inhaled your sandwich and three pickles and a glass of milk in five minutes. I’ve never seen your focus applied to food like that! The sense I’m getting is that you are in a growth spurt.
You’re growing in more than just your body. I am tickled to death that in the last week or two you’ve finally taken an interest in dressing yourself. Here you are, three and a half years old today (with a train engine half birthday cake to prove it) and FINALLY you actually volunteer to do the work yourself. It’s finally a challenge you can handle so you feel satisfaction and not frustration and, I do love you but, your mommy is so happy not to have this job anymore. Not only this, but you’re starting to randomly decide to use the bathroom without being prompted. Again. Happy Mommy. Maybe we will be able to close the book on potty training within 12 months. (Don’t worry, I’m not expecting it.)
You’re learning how to manage your emotions well, I think in part because you’re learning to articulate them. It’s becoming easier for you to wind back down before you spin out of control when something goes wrong, and you are finally willing to talk about things instead of just freaking out. The other day I heard something go awry in your room where you were building towers and after starting to lose it you stopped and just wailed “I’m SO unhappy!!” From the other room, I giggled.
You build a lot of towers and you’re really getting good at it. You also like to build “bridges” by spanning the long blocks across each other, in a zig-zaggy fence line. Last night you and Meredith totally impressed me. It was choir night for Daddy (You should be laughing right now, because actually this was the fourth of four choir nights in a row for him. Remember your crazy childhood?!) so we tucked you in early for the ever-beloved “Playing night.” Your room was tidy and you guys just went for it, with instructions that as long as you played nicely you could keep at it. I expected to be tucking you into bed within 15 minutes, but you played peacefully and cheerfully together for nearly two hours. When I went down to tuck you in you informed me that the very large tower that I was stepping over to turn out the lamp was “Crumble” the name of our friends’ coffee shop here in town. I love that your grasp of your world is getting so detailed and specific!
Speaking of specific, the most darling moment ever happened on Wednesday. It was Daddy’s day off but he had to spend almost the whole of it dealing with another car problem. (We have put easily six thousand bucks into our cars this year, and for all but the transmission rebuilt, you’ve been right by Daddy’s side while he works. The transmission, we outsourced.) Anyway, you and Daddy and Meredith headed out for the parts required, with breakfast smoothies in hand. I saw very little of you between then and nap time since you were out on the town for a strangely long time and then you stayed on the job until lunch time. As I tucked you in for your nap and you prayed you listed the things you were thankful for, and I had to keep my chuckle to myself as you prayed, “Thank you that we got to go with Daddy to (you counted on your fingers, eyes shut tight) one…two…three…car parts stores.” It’s a pretty big deal.
Maybe the best thing ever is how you’re becoming an encourager for me already. When you’re not upset you are really pleasant to be around. You take an interest in whatever I’m doing and are getting really good at carrying on conversation about things that interest you. You ask thoughtful “why” questions and process the answers. You are a really willing worker and have even been taking initiative for some things. We are only weeks away from my being able to say “Jacob, can you set the table for us?” and then not thinking about it again, because you are taking ownership of that work. You love to help empty the dishwasher, too, and do laundry and take out the trash. And the other day while I made Indian lentil stew you were by my side the whole time, first just sitting on your step stool peacefully munching an apple, then helping me measure out all the spices. It’s pretty cool having a big boy like you in my life. And I think of all the moments this month, the one that most stole my heart was at the table the other day when I handed you something and you responded with this voluntary “Thanks, Mom” that was so sincere and spontaneous. Clearly it came from your very own heart. It wasn’t the first time it’d happened, either. It’s becoming internal for you. “Jacob, you are growing to be so gracious,” I observed. “Yeah, I am.” You grinned, satisfied. I love who you are becoming.
I love you.