It's just awful that so long has passed since I've documented our little world. Back when Andrew was a baby, I kept post-it notes (how quaint, before your father turned me towards the dark side/technology) around the house and jotted down notable things as I went about my day. The things were sometimes basic and sometimes pretty amazing (one in the same to a mom), but the fact was, I forced myself to remember them with those little square of.. what is that stuff again.. OH YES, paper. I am so glad I did that. Because Andrew's babyhood seems like a damn decade ago, even though it was just half that. I now look at videos of him (grainy unfocused ones taken by our overwhelmed shaky hands on a cheap camera), and I am confused. About the passing of time and reconciling this baby to that kid. He is you? You is him? I do regret not documenting more things for you guys, I really really do. If I had more focus, I would definitely do something more regular for you guys, so that you could be 30 someday and laugh about how you were once terrified of your own diarrhea. These are memories meant to be preserved! But enough guilt-mongering, let's get to it.
Andrew, this update unfortunately begins the day after a pretty rough afternoon of sass. Coupled with it being a Friday, when my bottomless well of maternal love & patience shows that it does indeed have a bottom. HOOBOY! And it is dry as a bone in a desert. Coupled ALSO with it being the end of a particularly trying week of mostly solo parenting, because your father is making some seriously important bacon at work? It was not a good evening for your mother. No, it wasn't just you, your sister was definitely doing her good work as a 2-year-old, but wow! You and your sweet little sassy mouth. I can't be stunned here. I was (am) a serious smart-ass in my day. I don't even remember a time that I didn't feel compelled to smart-talk my parents. I was a decent kid.. but so much sass. It's all full circle, round here. At dinnertime last night, you were doing your best to rile Avery up, over anything and nothing at all.. which doesn't take much. You were pretty much finished eating, but staying the course at the table to fully taunt her. I told you that could go ahead and wash your hands and clear your spot because you were clearly done. To which you halfway mumbled "Sure, good thing I'm already done anyways." But since my sass-radar is fully honed and professional grade, I heard this and whipped around with a "what was that??" You timidly repeated yourself and I not-timidly told you that that was disrespectful and NO.
(*I actually started writing the above paragraph weeks ago, saved in draft, and have totally forgotten how the rest played out. Oops. Fact is, you have a mouth kid. One you will use against me many times over, I am sure. So, my parents' revenge. It is real and alive and thriving in my home. Good to know.)
Andrew, despite your taunting, you continue to be a prize-winningly awesome big bro. You have pretty endless patience - honestly, much more than I do. I think (I know) this is your father's genes at work. He has to be prettttttty patient with me, and I am so glad you got this part of him. Even when Avery is squawking about something on repeat, you more often than not maintain composure. You help her out of her coat and shoes when we all come inside, and I need to put groceries away or what-have-you. You assist her with whatever task she screams that she needs help with. Last night while she was still eating her dinner and we had all finished, you stayed standing by her highchair, helping her with her popsicle pouch thing... we told you we had it, and you could go on and play but you told us no, that you were her big brother and you were there to show her stuff... so we let you, watching your patient way with her, even praising her when she did something herself that you showed her. You teach her things. All the time. It's a nice balance between the not-as-nice things you do or say. Just earlier, she was flipping through one of your Berenstain Bear books on your bed, as you did something at your desk. She flips the pages and just talks, as her own little 2.5 year old way of reading. A lot of it doesn't relate to the pictures on the pages, but some of it does, regardless it's all pretty damn cute and a gigantic blessing when I'm on the phone shooting the bull with Auntie Kelly. You shook your head condescendingly and matter-of-factedly said 'you know Avery, that's not reading.' And I quickly corrected you that indeed it was, it was perfect reading for a 2.5 year old. You definitely assert your physical edge over her, all in playful ways, especially when I'm not looking.. which.. has lead to injuries. To be discussed below in her wrap-up. For insurance purposes.
You have become quite the sporty little dude, too. Not that you haven't always loved to toss a ball around, but recently it's been with undeniable accuracy. And all the time. You work up a sweat quickly, but you really enjoy to.. I think the quicker you start to sweat, the more successful you feel, it seems. You go outside and just are NON STOP. It's exhausting to watch, must less participate in. But I do anyways, in between catering to Avery's whims, which are aplenty. At night, when we would go turn our Christmas lights on outside, I let you race a few houses down and back, to burn energy... as it's been too cold for our usual after-school-outside play. You run CRAZY fast, your jacket flapping in the wind. I don't put shoes on Avery, and choose to hold her so that she won't get in your way for these little sprints, because I can tell you like to push yourself, how fast you can go. I love watching you be a little kid. Sometimes I think back to you as a 16 month old, not walking so much just yet, and how I literally cried over this. Oh I was something special, first-timer that I was. So very worried about my first, this new living extension of my soul, and if this minuscule delay meant anything more serious. Let's not even regard the fact that I had no idea how full-on-walking/movement signaled a whole new world of pain for me (and you), but I really just was a giant walking ball of nerves. Of course, I still sort of am, in ways. But my point is, I remember a time when you didn't want to walk. And the here and now couldn't be more different and beautiful.. because kid, you never stop. It's just fun.
You ask such questions - yesterday's big one was 'why do I have brown eyes, and you have green eyes?' And my failed attempts at explaining dominant/recessive genes to you ended in me yelling for your father to come take a stab at it.. and even he was a little overwhelmed. In the end, you now think my green eyes - or anyone with non-brown eyes - is very very fragile and weak.
You are also a whirlwind of paper and pencil lately, son. It's funny, again - nostalgia warning red alert!! - I remember when I was teaching you to write, maybe 3 years old? Maybe 2.5? Maybe younger? I really can't recall.. should've written it down on a damn post-it... but I do remember being overwhelmed, simply because it's such a PROCESS. The right grip. The patience. The stamina. The line formations. The letter formations. Which morphed into words.. which morphed into sentences, and here we are - you just going off and writing stuff. Whatever you want to tell us, in written word form. And it's just.. yeah, amazing. That word is so overused in parenting, because everything is NOT amazing.. there's so much about it that is not amazing by any means. So much poop. But seeing your kid write pages of letters, expressing his feelings and wishes and questions.. there's no denying that amazingness. You are so into writing and creating and drawing that I have to give you a daily stipend of paper, lest you go through a ream without much thought or care. We've had talks of tree-conservation, which led to how money to buy said paper doesn't grow on trees.. but wait, it technically does... oh geez, yes fine, you can have your iPod for 10 minutes. Save the trees!
AVERY LOU. My girl. My nugs. I can't call you these things though - oh no. If anyone calls you anything - anything at all - you say 'NO, I a big girl.' Doesn't matter. One recent time we were over at Grandpa's house, Mamaw arrived and you went running into her open arms, and she said 'there's my little girl!' And you stopped dead in your tracks to immediately correct her - 'NO Mamaw, I a big girl.' And indeed you are. You're pretty hot and cold with how self-sufficient you want to be though. Typical for your age, so we never really know. Say you have a cold, or general toddler runny nose, and your nose is a virtual faucet of fluid. You'll scream 'I HAVE SNOTS!' (or you'll simply yell 'SNOTTERS!' - a takeaway from your father, I'm positive)... which will either be resolved by us bowing to blow your precious schnozz with a name-brand tissue, if you request it so... OR you will insist that you know where the rags are (for baths, in Andrew's dresser drawer) and you can manage this sitch yourself just fine, so check yo'self before you wreck yo'self. We never know, so it's a lot of rolling with the punches. If you are in a Daddy-phase, I am dead to you. Same for vice versa. And we really never know why or when the phases will present themselves... Sometimes I think they correlate to if he's missing a lot of bath/bedtimes in a row from working late, which I can rationalize. But then sometimes it's all normal round here, no temporary parental absences to explain away a preference, and you show such a fierce allegiance to one of us, it cuts. I know it means nothing right now.. it's just you being two. But I see the you 15 years from now, and THAT cuts. I just am flat-out not looking forward to you disliking me. Something I know is inevitable and unchangeable and something I just need to be ready for and get over. Still.. It's going to go a lot deeper than you rejecting me over him to take you potty. It's probably going to involve mean girls and...boys. Smelly ones.
You love to count - and very accurately so. But forget about colors, for the moment. It actually really tickles me, how I'll hold up say, a banana, and ask you what color it is... you'll tap your own chin with your long little index finger a few times, deep in thought, and then proudly shout - BLUE! If you were my firstborn, I'd have you armpit deep in color-flash-cards by this point, but no. It actually makes me laugh when you mix up your colors... with such confidence. You'll get there. Yellow bananas are lame.
I caved and painted your nails recently, too. Your Auntie bought you some special just-for-kids nontoxic if accidentally ingested stuff, a year or so ago, when you were decades from being ready. I was on the floor doing puzzles or something with you one day recently, noting how much attention-span you had (weird!), and just asked you if you wanted me to paint your nails... you lit up and screamed YES! You probably had no idea what I was talking about. But we went to the bathroom, I sat on the ledge of the tub with a paper towel over my legs, and explained how you had to be VERY very still. You had big understanding eyes, and I man-gripped your wiggle-prone little hands, splaying your fingers, and went to work. I did one hand and blew on it for a good minute or two before going to the next, you helping me with the blowing. CHILD. You have never sat more still for such an amount of time, like ever. Once I was done with everything, you couldn't stop looking at your fingers, just oohing and aahing and saying how we HAD to show Daddy. And after a few days passed and some fingers polish was chipped off, you gasped and ran to me, saying 'we gotta paint my nails again!!!' What a girl.
You need a lot of love, Nugget. Like, more than average...certainly more needy of physical love than your bro ever was. If you're having a tough time with something - be it a task or just in the midst of a meltdown over something ridiculous - your go-to is to stop and scream I! NEED! SOME! LOVE! And well... we always comply. I mean, really, how could we not? I never think about 'oh, we're reinforcing bad things by this!' or anything, even when you're crying over being disciplined over something.. we always give you love. And 9 times out of 10, after a few seconds of a full body hug, you'll top the cuteness by sniffling 'I feel much much better now.' It's serious cuteness right now. Even Andrew knows to give you love when it's requested.. if he's pissed you off somehow, or done something out of turn, all I have to do is say 'CONSOLE.' And he kneels down and let's you hang on to him, squeezing the love for as long as you need. He does a lot of consoling. It's good life training.
You call me 'ol Mommy'. You yell 'come 'ere ol mommy!' And I do. You give a perfect thumbs up, when the situation calls for it - sometimes you prefer to give a solid thumbs up as an affirmation instead of a verbal yes. You say hello to everyone and anyone within 5 feet of you, out in public. The best is when they stop to strike up a conversation with you, because you melt and I instantly want to give the stranger whatever cash I have on me. Would that be weird? You let me dry your hair every night that it's washed, like a pro. There's unintentional yanking, but you're too busy making weird faces at yourself in the mirror to care, while knawing on a wet toothbrush. You still sometimes praise yourself as you run to the potty - even though this has been solid since August. You'll be walking to it, mumbling 'I keep my unnerwears keen and dry!' You're very consoling, to us and inanimate objects alike.. if a teddy bear gets stuck somewhere, you'll rescue it and cuddle it, whispering in it's ear - 'it's ok..it's ok..it's ok..' Kissing it all over. And you still love to paint, as you know it'll turn out the same every time, despite my warnings to keep it on the paper...full-on body painting.. your own personal heaven..
You are obsessed with cupcakes - pretend play food. Anyone who crosses our front door will very quickly hear 'wanna go play cupcakes?'. And if you do go play cupcakes, you win in my book of awesome people.
I love both your little biscuitheads and hearts.