It's bulletpoint time.
* Andrew, you are thisclose to turning 5. FIVE. A whole hand. You are officially not one to be cuddled. Unless you want something, of course. You weren't the most cuddly baby, you preferred your space, but then you were a very affectionate toddler. And now, you're back to preferring your space. I'm hoping Kindergarten will exhaust you so much that you'll yearn for my hugs and cuddles. That's my plan, at least. Exhaust you to the point of relenting, at which point I will cuddle the living crap out of you. When we read you your book of choice before bedtime or naptime, you cuddle a little, but then you very politely say 'I'm not very comfortable, can we be done now?' Ha! At least you are polite in your rejection. You still nap I'd say 2 days out of the week. Either a Monday/Wed, or a Monday/Fri. (It's always party-time on the weekends, no time for naps usually.) It's because you only just recently figured out that it was optional. We pretty much capitalized on the fact that you never once asked if you could skip a nap. It was just a part of your routine, never questioned. And you slept! If you hadn't, we would have surely had you cut back, but you slept. so it was good. I realize that this is something that won't be around next year, or even by the time you start full-time school. Or who knows, even next month, if you get very insistent on this choice. I'll miss it. Your sweaty bedhead and loopy walk to the bathroom. I thank you for letting us squeeze out this many years of good naps with you, for I know your sister will make me pay. She will bring balance, as she does with so many other things. So, thanks.
* Avery, your happy place is in the dirt. If we could just let you play outside in the dirt all day, breaking for diaper changes, naps, and food? It would be a true state of Nirvana for you. Your little fingernails forever have dirt underneath. If you are outside, you just find it. It's a magnetic force for you. Your brother thought dirt was basically poison for much of his young life, so I'm not equipped for dealing with a consistently filthy child. I've probably used more Wet Ones on you than I have on Andrew, in his collective 4.75 years. I used to set up finger-painting/etc. for Andrew when he was very little, as a part of a sort of occupational therapy, because he had such intense sensory aversions. So I essentially desensitized him. He loathed getting messy, but with each time we did something messy and fun, he loathed it a little less. And I know he would be a different kid today, had we not have ever done all that. Life for a little kid is just a lot different/difficult when you lose your shits over having to touch unpeeled fruit. Or create messy keepsakes in preschool with your friends. I'm glad we did all of it. I will never ever everrrrr have to do this with you, my delicate strong consistently dirty daughter, for you are drawn to filth like a moth to a flame. You know how to wear a purse, which you fill with dirt. It's really the best of both worlds.
* Andrew, you and your father went on a 3-day, 2-night trip to see your grandparents, down south. Saying your absence was felt is a gigantic understatement. I had no clue just how much I take you for granted, until you were not available anymore! I described you as a live-in-babysitter to someone the other day, and it's pretty true. Yes, there's squabbles throughout the day, but they are 9 times out of 10 brought on by Avery's age and all that comes with it. Your patience is pretty limitless, so more often than not, you don't even let it escalate. I've told you how to deal with certain scenarios, and thankfully you've listened and I don't have to intervene TOO much (I know my days of intervening are coming though.. oh, I can smell the bloodshed already). When she has stolen a toy you want, you know that before you can kindly take it back, you had better give her something in return for it. Unless you know, you want your ears to bleed from her anger screeches. Your choice! Avery's almost 2, and she has no drive whatsoever to take off her own shoes when we come in the door. Why? Because her Manny (you) does it for her. I'm loaded down like a pack mule with groceries, and I delegate 4 different things to you, some of which are to please take her coat/shoes off.. all the while I'm unpacking groceries in (relative) peace. It's a beautiful thing. A thing that might cause a few developmental delays on her part, but I can live with that. Oh I definitely can. When you were gone for that weekend, I had grand ideas of cleaning the house top to bottom. I would have just the 1 kid! Lo! The ease! The possibilities! The delusions. Avery was at my feet 99% of the time, requiring every last ounce of energy I possessed. My live-in-babysitter void was felt. There was no cleaning. Just caretaking, which I know is as it should be. It's my job - my only job. But still.. you were deeply missed. I don't know if this being uber-helpful thing is typical for almost-5 year olds. But I do want to know why I wasn't let in on this secret 4 years ago. When you were a belligerent pre-verbal toddler? Hey. I have one of those right now! See? Perspective. You are it.
* Avery, you already love a good joke. Well. You say the words on cue at least.. Andrew (or whomever) says 'knock knock' and you immediately and very passionately say 'who's daaaare?' Our joke-du-jour is the old interrupting-chicken joke. So you'll very quickly follow up your 'who's daaaare?' with a 'ba-caw!' Not quite how it's supposed to go, but I'll never tell you that. You got bored with that after 900 rounds or so, and you started saying 'cat? dog?' and other animals. So after you'd ask 'who's daaaare?' I'd say interrupting cat and you'd scream MEOW! But wait. The ultimate household favorite is the Interrupting Daddy. Wherein I make a very loud juicy fart noise. It kills. And yes, yes, Daddy serves me with an equally offensive Interrupting Mommy version, which also brings the house down.
So, times are good. Days are sometimes long, but all good. And when the days are just too hectic to reconcile, there's always a good fart joke to bring us all together.