Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Henry the Three-Year-Old

When people ask if we’re going to have another baby, I laugh like a maniac in my head (and sometimes out loud) because seriously, have you met Henry? 

I mentioned a few months ago how sentimental I am and how I often yearn for days of yore. So, I’ve known for awhile that no matter how many babies I have, I will always want another. Cue, Henry. And while I have no doubt that I’ll still feel the baby itch from time-to-time, Henry has ensured that I will stop at three kids with a content heart. 

I know he’ll read this later and sarcastically say, “Thanks, Mom. How nice of you to say.” To which I will remind him that he was a handful and a half, but the sweetest, cutest, little handful there ever was. 

He’s the greatest challenge I never knew I needed. But taming this wild horse has its sweet moments, too. When he doesn’t get what he wants, his first reaction is to scream at me with the fury of a redhead. I keep calmly reminding him that he can just talk to me and I’ll still listen even if he’s not screaming. After months and months of this lesson, the other day I watched as he almost screamed, paused, tucked the scream in and said “Mama, you pwease listen to me?” 

Yes, sweet boy, I’ll always listen to you. 

Now that he’s started talking and communicating, life is SOOOOO much less painful. He still screams if he doesn’t get his way, but about 75% of our conflicts are resolved now because we can talk to each other about it. The other 25% are usually because he’s tired or hungry and no amount of rational conversation would ever fix it. 

Henry loves being outside soaking up the beautiful weather. He’d even be outside if the weather wasn’t beautiful. I’m pretty sure he’d live out there if bees weren’t a thing. He loves climbing and sliding and swinging and most especially, sand (or dirt). In a field of grass, he’ll find even the smallest patch of dirt. I take him to the park thinking we can run off some of that endless energy only to watch him play in the sandbox for an hour. The best-laid plans and all that. 

He loves numbers. He can count to 30 every time and sometimes, if he’s in the mood, he’ll go to 50. He recognizes his numbers up to 49 and knows the following shapes: circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, heart, hexagon, pentagon, semicircle and trapezoid. He can recognize all the letters in the alphabet. But here’s the really crazy thing. I’m not actively working on any of this stuff with him. I’ll play letter magnets sometimes or read his number book with him, but we aren’t sitting over here doing flash cards. He has this amazing ability to remember something after the first or second time he’s heard it. That is not a trait he inherited from me. 

He still very much loves cars and will sit and play with them for what seems like hours, but in toddler time is actually only about 20 minutes. He likes puzzles and LOVES being read to and reading books himself. 

This summer he has proven to be a little fish in the water. When the girls were this age, they were pretty apprehensive about putting their faces in the water, but he just jumps right in the pool and goes all the way under before his floaties pop him back up. It fits his throw-caution-to-the-wind lifestyle. 

He is fearless when it comes to jumping and swimming and climbing and running into the street without an adult, but he’s still pretty scared of the gorilla on Mickey Mouse. Go figure.  

One of my favorite things about him lately is his awareness of others’ emotional states. A couple months ago, he started asking me “happy or sad?” when he’d see that my face wasn’t happy. Usually, it was my mad face. So, I’d say “I’m mad, Henry, because you didn’t listen to me when I said 64 times to stay inside.” So then, the question morphed into “happy, sad or mad?” And every once in awhile, he adds another possible emotion. This week we are up to “happy, sad, mad, fwustrated or tired?” I haven’t met many three year olds who are as in tune with the emotions of others. Likewise, he’s also capable of telling me when he’s experiencing some emotional upheaval. Just the other day, I asked him to come downstairs so we could leave. Without stomping his feet or throwing a fit, he said “I’m going to my room. I’m mad right now.” Well, okay. Thanks for telling me so maturely. But seriously you have like 2 minutes to be mad and then we’re leaving. 

One of my least favorite things about him lately is his button-pushing tendencies. When he has discovered that something bothers you, he does it twice as hard and twice as fast and he eagerly watches your reaction. I noticed this about him a long time ago, but it's getting worse. It may just be that his sisters are home for the summer, so there are three times as many buttons, but their reactions are so glorious, he can’t even help himself. It’s especially bad with Grace. She’s so shriek-y that he loves to make her mad.

It causes a lot of fights and screams and tattling and time-outs and lessons on how to out-smart your three-year-old brother. But most of the time, the three of them get along pretty well. Or, at least, somewhat well. 

Watching him grow this past year has been so delightful. He started sleeping by himself through the night last April, so it was a much, much more enjoyable year since we were both rested humans. I kept him in the crib as long as I could because I knew once we removed the visual barriers, we were opening pandora’s box. But he was so good at getting in and out of the crib it didn’t make much sense to keep it. He transitioned to a big boy bed a few weeks ago and it really hasn’t been awful. It’s not awesome, but it’s not awful. He is quite incapable of staying in his bed without first getting up 15 times and peeking out his door. I’m hoping this will eventually get old and he’ll just be content to fall asleep, but knowing him, I really doubt it. 

The kid just doesn’t stop moving ever. He can’t sit still for long, and if his body is still, his hands are moving. The one time I saw all of him laying still just watching TV, I was immediately worried that he was sick. And he was. 

In early June, we said goodbye to his second year of life and hello to the big #3 with a Mickey Mouse themed birthday. There was a kiddie pool and a slip ’n’ slide and pizza and cupcakes. We invited his most favorite people and he had just a splendid birthday. 

I’m so looking forward to spending this next year with him. I decided to hold off on preschool until he’s 4 so I can soak it up as much as possible. I know he’s the caboose to our little train, so I want to hang on to the moments, make more memories and spend more time with my cute little menace before I have to start the process of separating. So, here’s to a year of fewer tantrums, more giggles and hopefully less button-pushing!!