Jacob: 45 Months

Dear Jacob,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot this month. I’m noticing you more and more, seeing your unique personality and propensities and trying to learn to be sensitive to them and give you room to thrive. Sometimes I feel like it’s working, and this past week I’ve seen you grow a lot in how you relate to the world and how you handle yourself. I’ve been reading a couple books, too, inspired to pick them up by my observations of you lately – you seem to fit the mold described in The Highly Sensitive Person, and I’m looking forward to an audio book I checked out of the library last week about introverts. I want to help you grow into yourself gracefully and with wisdom and strength so that you thrive.

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You are a tough person, how you are constantly triggered by one thing or the other, easily irritated, easily aroused, easily spooked. Lately we’ve been dealing with your new phobia of putting toilet paper in the toilet. You stand as far away as you can and quickly throw it in with a little flick of your arm, instantly jumping back. I think this is a pre-caution against potty water splashing on you. It’s just one of those little idiosyncrasies that I’ve been finding demand more patience of me than I readily have. Or the way you can’t manage the frustration of tugging an article of clothing over a limb without a constant, steadily escalating whimper.

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What’s been exciting to see these last few days is how much you’re gaining control of your own will, and learning to communicate. I see it most often when you’re caught up on sleep. You are getting good at solving problems calmly and verbalizing what you need, and when you do get upset you’re often able to pull it together, take a step back, and come at things in a better way. Inspiring, this new world! My toddler-weary imagination is full of visions of the rational world of big kids, and so you are an encouragement to me.

Now if only I could bring you to the full realization of how much sleep you need. I’ve gone back to the practice of always, always putting you down for a nap instead of frequently giving you the option of quiet solitary play time. I know you need sleep. It’s tricky, because you’re not tired until later in the afternoon, but when you don’t sleep you are just one long string of melt-downs by dinner time, barely able to use words. It’s obvious, that sleep-specialist’s maxim I read somewhere, that a sleep-deprived child loses whole years of their developmental “age” for every hour of lost sleep in a given day. I think you’re starting to see the connection here as I point it out to you day after day: how much fun we’re all having on evenings when you’ve slept; how upset you are on days you don’t. I’m hoping you’ll settle into easy, daily naps again and keep them going for awhile longer before you give them up completely in favor of being big.

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Big you are. You are so tall and thin, and yesterday when we went to get haircuts together you were so tickled with yourself and with the attention you were getting. When the stylist told you you looked handsome you melted my heart with your sheepish grin, and then you melted it again later when I sat in the chair and you commented from the side: “You look very handsome, Mom.” I’m “Mom” a lot, and not so much “Mommy,” but on the flip side of things, I smile when I hear you at moments of particular affection or vulnerability, how you sub-consciously opt for “Dada” instead of “Dad” or “Daddy.”

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And your interest in the world is growing quickly, too. Lately you are constantly concerned with understanding what time it is. Slowly you’re learning to ask “What time is it?” instead of “Now what does it (I am supposed to know you mean “the clock”) say?” You are recognizing most of the letters by sight now, and the other day when we were out on a walk you stood in front of a large sign by a new development under construction and meticulously identified each letter you could. I was amazed at how much you knew. I’ve been reading a lot on education these days because I am pretty sure that home education will play at least a partial role in your childhood, and as I formulate my own hodge-podge philosophy I find myself pleased to witness your growing curiosity and the natural unfolding of your own progress without an imposed “learning effort.” I don’t intend to start you in any formal schooling for another three years, but I have no doubt that you will be well on your way to reading fluently by the time another year is out, just because you are ready and eager and open to the world.

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I love seeing what you love these days, and seeing how you’re growing. How you’re beginning to take initiative to kneel down to give your sister her night-night kiss so your towering height doesn’t knock her over. How you love to kneel in church, too – not to pray, but to face the chairs behind you and play your own make-believe organ on the hymnal racks under the seats. How you can’t get enough of helping Daddy whenever he invites you, and how whenever you overhear us discussing the details of the massive home renovation project we’ve just embarked on you interject your sweet, curious question: “Are you guys talkin’ about the old house or the new house right now?”

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One of the things I’m excited about for the coming weeks is involving you in choosing and preparing our food. You’ve developed a mighty, insatiable sweet tooth over Christmas and you and Daddy had a little Come-to-Jesus the other day as he tried to help you notice your pattern of always rejecting the nourishing foods in favor of the treats. For the next two weeks you and Meredith and I will be living alone, and I’ve prepared for us a simple, slow life of doing simple, slow things. One of those things is having you help me decide what we’re going to eat, walk the aisles of the grocery store to find the ingredients, and bring them home to prepare them. I’m hoping this will help you get invested in the riches available to us omnivore-humans. I think you’re going to love it.

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For now, enough of this. You’ve been sick since before Christmas and right now I can hear you downstairs not napping. You’ve been coughing almost without interruption since about 4:00 a.m. and Daddy & I have offered just about every remedy we can think of. It’s probably time to get you some honey tea.

I love you.

Love,
Mommy

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