Monday, October 10, 2016

Pride and Joy

I guess we've settled into a bit of a routine lately that hasn't had anything too exceptional to write about.  Not that all is hunky dory, as we still have daily outbursts from Jacob and a recent string of not-great days for Carter, but I guess we've finally settled into the next stage of normal.  We have learned to live with meltdowns, no gluten, sibling rivalry, and whatever else...and while it never gets easy, we get used to it to some degree.  So perhaps that's why not much has been deemed blog-worthy lately.  Or maybe I just fear that I'll be too complainy if I keep talking about our issues.  Or perhaps it's because I can't keep my eyes open at night.  Or maybe we're just starting to age out of this, as so many other bloggers have when they feel uncomfortable telling their kids' stories as they get older.  Of course, almost no one reads this,, we'll see.

But I did want to take a little bit to commemorate just how fun Carter is right now.  I've said over and over here how there has always been a special little light in this kid.  From the moment he could smile, there was something about that smile that was irresistible.  Everywhere we went, from Wegmans to Disney, we were constantly told what a sweet, happy boy he was.  It still happens, in fact.  There is just something about him.

When Jacob was younger, and to some degree even now, his version of "excited" was somewhat subdued.  He could get really happy about things, like running around and playing sports, but it was almost impossible to get a spontaneous giddy giggle out of him.  And when it came to his style of play, as imaginative as he could be sometimes, there was definitely a serious streak to it all.  For example, his table hockey game may have been played by a mishmash of random hockey guys, but they had to have perfect positioning. 

Around that same time a few years back, I was dreaming of a daughter who would skip through the yard and pick flowers, or get excited over something as simple as a sparkly new nail polish color.  But then I found out I was pregnant with another boy, and admittedly I was initially pretty bummed.  But I knew that was probably a sign that I wouldn't have been the best mom to a girl, and I prayed that I would have a son who was a more perfect fit than I could ever imagine.  And sure enough, God gave us the kind of kid we needed, one who can take the edge off the worst day and make us smile when we need it most.  He's not perfect by any means (he IS three, after all), but now I know what it's like to struggle with "normal" discipline issues instead of the overwhelming, constant ones we have always had with Jacob.  We need to work on his penchant to hit and throw and flat-out disobey, but there is such a sweetness to him that I usually just want to squeeze him and freeze him right at this age.  I never want to stop hearing, "Mommy, I love you," with that perfect, sweet little voice. 

He is so sweet, so earnest, so charming, and so full of enthusiasm.  I think both of us are guilty of spoiling him from time to time because it's so heartwarming to see him smile, hear him giggle, and have him say "thank you" unprompted.  He thanks me for making dinner, or getting him a book, or turning on a show for him. He loves to give hugs and kisses and even jokes about having "only one left," but usually another one materializes shortly thereafter and the hugs continue.  I can barely get through getting him dressed or drying him off after a bath without hugging or temporarily refusing at least a hug or two (we'd never get done otherwise!).  Some nights he comes out of bed asking for one more hug, and I kid you not, he gives the hug and walks right back to bed.  He tells me at least half a dozen times a day that he loves me, often adding, "I don't want anyone to take you," which I think stems from me reminding him to stay close to me out in public so no one takes him.  He has this thoughtfulness to him that is so remarkable to me because it is something Jacob completely lacks (even now), where he thinks to give a toy or a pillow or a blanket to one of us (even if it is a ploy to stay awake longer), or where he wants to share his food, even the good stuff.

I can tell that certain "book-smart" things aren't as intuitive to him as they were to Jacob, but he often makes up for it by making it clear that he understands certain situations and issues much more clearly than I remember Jacob doing.  He just seems to make some deeper connections, and his imagination shows a lot of insight when he's telling elaborate stories about one thing or another.  I find myself constantly struck by his maturity in certain situations, with his patience and understanding beyond his years.  Last week he was having a rough week at daycare, with a few hitting episodes that caused him to miss out on three days of stickers on his behavior chart.  Speaking of which, if he is their worst behaved kid--judging by him being the only one with a chart--then they are making easy money right now.  I keep telling myself they just see more potential in him than other kids and want to nip the bad behavior in the bud now, but who knows?  Anyway, he had officially lost out on his chance to pick from the prize box for the week...except that Thursday afternoon he was with the director in a room with some older kids, and the older kids were acting like crazies.  Apparently Carter was as good as could be, completely unaffected by the chaos (plenty of practice at home, I'd guess), and the director was so impressed that she let him pick a prize.  And I guess that's what amazes me--that for all of the moments where he does normal obnoxious three-year-old stuff and makes me crazy, there are always so many other moments where I'm so impressed by his ability to just be a cool kid.  That may be the norm for most people, but it's never been our reality with Jacob so it comes as a bit of culture shock now.

Of course, he's picked up a nasty TV habit that I know we need to work on.  He loves his shows--Paw Patrol, Team Umizoomi, Blaze, Lion Guard, Scooby-Doo, and most recently Mike the Knight--and frequently asks for one to be put on.  I really do want him to play more, but when he asks nicely and I know it will keep him occupied while I make dinner (or, afterward, when I'm exhausted and want a snuggle buddy), it's harder to say no.  Sometimes that's all that I can do to keep the peace between Carter and Jacob, as they'll either watch together or Jacob will be so annoyed he leaves the room.  But mostly, that's the one time that our energetic little boy will sit quietly and allow a snuggle.  As much of a hugger as he his, he is not a snuggler.  Even at bedtime when he's all cozy in bed, he will now politely ask me to leave once the lights go out and I get one last hug and kiss.  So, understandably, that TV time is gold for a snuggle-starved parent!

But we do need to encourage him to play more.  He absolutely can and does play on his own, but he needs more of that!  He can be so cute when he plays, as he can make a story up about any random toy and combine any group of toys to make a story.  Just this morning he was toting around a plastic jumping frog, a finger flashlight, and the shooter from the Imaginext Batcave, so clearly he's got some sort of storyline in his head where those three things fit together.  Even away from his toys he will tell stories forever, and he can be very thorough explaining things to us.

Anyway, he's just a sweet kid who's generally a joy to have around.  Every time I hear an excited squeal or see a big grin on his face, I'm reminded all over again how lucky I am to have the chance to be the mom to a kid like him.  I hope he never outgrows wanting to give hugs or tell us he loves us.  Part of me wishes I could freeze him right at this age and enjoy the cute things he says and the sweet hugs forever, but I know I'd be limiting us all because his potential to be a great big kid is pretty high too, and we don't want to miss that.  I'm savoring every moment I can right now because I know it won't last long...and I remind myself of that every time it gets hard, but I still know I am one lucky mama to have a kid like him.

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