Monday, June 29, 2020

Almost three

Dear Mac,

Oh, my little Mac. You are everything a little baby-of-the-family boy should be.

You are so much, packed into a strong, tough little body. You are resistant, defiant, insistent, persistent.

At a graduation party on Saturday, I took you to the bathroom (by force, of course). You couldn't wait to get back outside to jump on the "tramp-o-leen, the tramp-o-leen, the tramp-o-leen!" When we got back outside, there were six bog boys William's size bouncing around with a soccer ball on a trampoline with no net. "Oh, buddy, the big boys are on there now," I told you. "You'll have to wait a bit."

You turned to me. "I'm BIG."

"I know you're big, but you need to wait."

"MOM. I'm big!"

I picked you up. Maybe some TLC would help. "Mackey, you ARE big. But you need to wait a few minutes."

You hollered at the top of your lungs, "MOM! I'm BIG!!!"

Firm resolve is often required with you. "Well, the answer is no."

You stood obediently (but not happily) on the ladder and waited for your opportunity. As soon as one or two of the boys hopped off, you climbed on. You were bounced and jostled and dirty and sweaty, yet completely undeterred. You were one of the big boys and there was no one who could tell you otherwise.

A few weeks ago, we hosted Kole (William and Barrett's friend). The big kids woke up so early, excited to play. You rolled right out of bed too, and it was immediately apparent that you needed a LOT more sleep. You were sobbing at every provocation. I gave you a few chances to pull it together, but you just couldn't. "You've got to go back to sleep, Mac."

You lost it completely. I carried you to your bed, tucked you in, and said, "You're not being a bad boy. You just need more sleep. Mommy's not mad at you."

Your eyes were already closing as you wailed, "I'm mad at you!" You popped your thumb into your mouth and were sleeping in moments. I couldn't help but laugh.

Last night, we sang happy birthday to you. This was YOUR MOMENT. You'd been waiting for this endlessly, patiently witnessing everyone else blow out their candles on their birthdays. You sang the song with everyone: "Happy birthday to me." After you blew out the candles, you dramatically pulled each one out and licked the frosting off, savoring each second of the spotlight.

Mackey, you go for what you want. You're the only kid who will randomly approach me to ask for candy. When have I ever given you the impression that I'll just hand you candy? But you ask, and you ask often, and you're always genuinely upset when I say no (as I always do).

You run with the big kids, jump with the big kids, laugh at their jokes, watch their movies. You've stopped asking to watch "baby songs," because I think you've realized that the big boys don't find them cool. This makes me sad, but I know you're still my baby. I know it when you wrap your arms around my neck in a strong, perfect little hug. I know it when I lay next to you and you snuggle into my arm and suck your thumb and your eyelids instantly grow heavy. I know it when you scream with delight at a firefly or a new-to-you, hand-me-down pair of shark pajamas. I know it when you mispronounce your D's as N's. ("Danny" for Daddy, "bi-ner" for spider, "burn" for bird.)

I am trying to be careful to not let you become a perfect storm - the tenacious little baby boy whose mother indulged him. I hold the line with you, but I've also probably drawn it farther back than I ever did with William. How can I not? You are somehow always the infant I cuddled on those hot summer days three years ago, and you always will be.

"I'm NOT a baby!"

You are perfect.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Tiny girl at four-and-a-half

Dear Neva,

Last night, as I held an overtired, crying Mac, you sat beside me, looked at me very seriously and asked, "I'm a big girl, right?"

"OH, yes. You are a big girl."

"When I was a baby, I wasn't a big girl, right?"

"No. You cried a LOT."

You were very pleased with this, and you continued eating your peach happily. Peaches are your latest favorite fruit. FAVORITE. Soft, crunchy - it doesn't matter. "More peaches, please?!" Peaches are to you what apples are to Barrett.

You give very violent little hugs. You latch on tightly, digging your chin in with all your might. You hug with everything in you. You take tiny bites of food with your tiny face. When you're excited, and you want to get somewhere very fast, you take tiny, quick steps in a faux run that doesn't get you there any faster but makes you feel like you're really hustling.

You keep your closet very clean, making sure that everything is hung up right away. For a while, you loved changing clothes several times a day, making large piles of castoffs, until I'd have you hang them all back up in one tedious session. Somewhere along the line, you decided on your own that it would be smarter to hang something up immediately, and months later, it dawned on me that I hadn't had to ask you to clean up the clothes in your closet for a long time. I am so proud of you!

We've had several play dates this month, now that school is done, and I've made an effort to invite little girls your age. You do a good job playing with them - don't get me wrong - but now I see that you're more of an independent agent than I had thought before. Time and time again I notice the little girls playing with your toys on their own while you wander off by yourself to the sandbox or the basement. I don't feel guilty, really, anymore, that you won't have a sister. You are happy to be your own playmate, and after that, you have Barrett. The two of you are inseparable.

You and Barrett LOVE to draw and color. You'll both sit and crank out a dozen pictures of monsters, ninjas, and superheroes. You make the cutest little monsters with big eyes and detailed horns. And your inspiration, these days, is not Elsa or Anna or even Merida but Sarah from Virtua Fighter. "Can you make my hair like Sarah?" You want to be tough and strong.

You inspire me. You inspire me to clean up my own internal messes. I never want you to see me restricting food, or picking apart about my body, or complaining about life or people or... anything. I don't want you to witness irrational tears or expressions of discontentment. I want you to fully believe that there is as much dignity and self-respect to be found as a homemaker and full-time parent as there is in any other occupation. I want you to witness an adult woman bearing confidence so that you will keep growing your own.

Neva, you can do anything. I believe that with my entire heart. And that encourages me I can do anything, too- including fully settling into this role without doubt, misgivings, or apathy.

"Mom, when I grow up, will we be sisters?" We will be best friends.

I love you, baby girl. You are perfect.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

My eight-year-old

Dear William,

Today you approached me very seriously and said, "Mom, do you know why I love you and Daddy more than video games?"


"Because you guys are more important than all of that."

Then you paused.

"Mom, are dragons real?"

You are perfect.

You have such a cute way of waving your hands when you talk. It's hard to describe, but only you do it. "God could blow up this house like nothin'," and you spread your hands to depict the destruction.

Yesterday, on the way home from church, I asked Daddy if he'd heard the sermon, which was about the role of a father. He had been ushering, and he'd missed it. "Bummer," I said. "I wish you'd heard it. It would have been an encouragement for you to hear what a good job you're doing."

"Luckily," you interrupted from your spot between us in the front bench of the pickup, pulling out your little notebook with a tremendous flourish, "I wrote it all down." Grandma had helped you take notes, and you read to Daddy the six jobs of a father. "Do you think your dad is a good dad?" I asked you after you'd finished. "He's an awesome dad," you replied.

You gripe and groan at schoolwork, you love to read (especially your new Dog Man books), you sometimes abuse your oldest-sibling power, you prefer hanging out with me and Daddy to playing with your siblings, you take life at a relaxed pace, and you mess around a LOT.

You are perfect.