Dear Kid: Three Years (and Merry Christmas)

It’s two months after your birthday, but I can't procrastinate into the next year, so I find myself delivering this message to you the day before Christmas Eve.  That seems fitting and appropriate, however, because you are just beginning to catch on to just how rad this particular holiday can be.

Today you are 1,183 days old.  This means that even in our darkest hours together, you have brought us 1,183 days of joy.

And this year has no doubt been filled with dark hours.  In the first part of 2014, you lost both of your grandparents on your dad’s side.  Your capacity to process that experience at 2.5 years old was incredible.  Your whole demeanor changed that month.  You knew something had gone terribly wrong; you understood the permanent void that would indelibly exist.  This loss once again reminded me of the incredible impact we as parents have on our children. 

This Christmas, I am thankful for the smiles you bring to your dad’s face on a nearly minute by minute basis, and that we are able to use your presence in our lives to create our own holiday traditions and memories with you. 

Perhaps the biggest change we have seen in you this year is your increased capacity to communicate – both with us and with strangers.  Most of the time this leaves me coyly smiling to strangers, beaming with pride and sharing a knowing nod that says, “Yes, I know my child is gifted - a genius, basically.”

Other times, what you contribute verbally to strangers makes me – and certainly your father - want to self-combust, disappear in to space, or, in dire circumstances, offer your hand to said stranger and say, “I found this young child wandering around with no supervision.  Did you see him with an adult earlier?” 

Costco seems to be your verbal bomb location of choice, where you often kick your volume level up to that of a Five Finger Death Punch concert, and vehemently express your desire for things like chocolate asscream.  Frozen has also taken over our lives, and so perhaps one of your more memorable Costco performances included your rendition of “Let it Go,” where, despite constant attempts on our part to set you straight, you (still) insist that the lyrics sung at the song’s peak emotional crescendo are “The bastard’s in the past!”  (Please note: the correct lyrics are "The past is in the past.").  You sing this line with extra gusto, and the understandable response you receive from innocent passersby only seems to fuel your desire to provide an encore that we're all begging you not to provide.   

But truly, your vocabulary is extraordinary.  You regularly use 3 and 4 syllable words with us and in the right context.

Concentrate on me Daddy.”

“Mom, you are frustrating me right now.”  (This is actually a 3 syllable word but you change it to four.)

And, as if I really need a verbal reflection on everything I say, you often whip out these little gems:

While leaving the house:  “Alrighty then, let’s hit it.”

While picking up toys:  “Ummm, a little help here?”

When we do anything you don’t really want us to do: “Shame on you, Mommy.”  “I’m disappointed in you, Daddy.”

When we ask you to finish your dinner plate before dessert:  “You’re killin’ me guys.”

And my personal favorite, when I am trying to reprimand you: (*Slowly puts index finger up to my mouth*) “Shhhhhhh, Mom.  Listen.” (*Raises one eyebrow*)

Your ability to communicate has also brought to light just how unreasonable you are being when you throw fits, because we finally know WHY you are throwing fits.  We are no longer afforded the luxury of giving you the benefit of the doubt. He’s tired, we’d say.  His stomach must be upset, we’d rationalize.  He is NO DOUBT HAVING GROWING PAINS we would shout over the screaming. 

You also take pleasure in losing your mother loving shit over the fact that I stirred your yogurt.  Or that Gus the Dog jumped off of the couch.  Or that we ran out of lotion.  And to think, I thought we’d just have a little dry skin that evening.

And yes, you’ve used your share of expletives.  I’ll have to talk to your…eh’em…father…about that foul language of his.  Moving on.

You cuddle. 

You think Spiderman and Jake the Pirate are cool but you love princesses – specifically Rapunzel.  You can play the game Memory better than I can.  You love to visit with MorMor and tease Papa.  You are literally witty.  Witty.  At three years old.

You laugh often and unabashedly.  You are a gracious gift giver and receiver and almost always say thank you without being prompted. You know when someone is sad, because I can visibly see you are hurting for them.  You know what it means to miss people.  You know the importance of telling people you miss them.      

You have made it a habit to name all of the people you love before I tuck you in at night.

In so many ways, each and every day, you show me what Christmas is really all about. 

And to think, I thought I would be the one showing you.    Thank you for that.



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The one percent.

I’m about to have a 3 year old on my hands, and lately I’ve been thinking about all the ways that motherhood has changed me…mostly because five of my closest friends have all had kids this spring/summer, including both of my child’s Godmothers.
GM #1's munchie.

GM #2's munchie.

When someone shares the news of a pregnancy with those around them, responses are typically always joyful.  We offer huge smiles and hugs and tell the person or couple just how happy we are for them.  We do this universally.  If you’ve had a child of your own, and the person sharing the news with you has ever judged your parenting style in any way, your elation is equally as genuine…just for different reasons.   You know what they’re about to face – both good and bad - and if you’re human, you’re damned happy about both.  

One of the five new momma friends!

A good friend of mine once told me that the first few years of raising a child is 49% misery and 51% joy.  Very rarely do we recognize anything in between those two feelings.  It’s like playing golf.  The good shots keep you playing through the back nine.  Hell, a good day followed by a couple of martinis and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a decent foursome. This is why I don’t drink and parent.

Okay fine, I drink all the time. This is why I have an IUD.

I digress.  What I’m trying to say is that the 1% of parenthood “joy” tips the scale in an extraordinary way.  When I told my mom I was pregnant, she told me I would become a better person because it would build my character in a manner that wouldn’t be achievable any other way.  At the time, I was actually pretty offended by that.  Frankly I thought it was a pretty asshole-ish thing to say– not just for me personally – but for everyone who hasn’t had a kid, either by choice or by chance. 

Mostly I was offended because I hadn’t had 3 years of character building in that 49% yet. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I get what she was trying to say. 

Don’t get me wrong.   I recognize that people can build character and strive for betterment in countless ways.  For example, I know people who've built character by working in an orphanage in the Congo, or by saving someone’s life because they put themselves though 8 miserable years of med school and fellowship training.  Cripes, I know people who've built character by running an iron man.  Some would argue I took the easy route!  All I did was have some sex and now look!  Here I am! Building character for the rest of my life! 

And dammit, I hate to admit it, but my mom was right.  Ever since my kid came along, I can’t seem to get through anything that elicits any sort of emotion without becoming one big, blubbery ball of tears – especially when it comes to other people’s kids.  Suddenly I feel empathy for people.  I'm confident that if you could measure my niceness pre and post kid, you’d find that having a kid has definitely made me less of an asshole.

One thing about having kids “later on in life” (30+, rather than 20+) is that you’ve had more time to enjoy your freedom.  You’ve had time to make a little money, to travel, to do nothing but watch America’s Next Top model on a Sunday afternoon, only leaving the couch to nurse your hangover with a Taco Johns run.  Not having kids is a frickin' blast.  And when you’ve had a few extra years to not have them, the transition to having them is a bitch.  And the effects of that 49% can be a bit exacerbated the longer you wait.  And when you finally do have a night out with your friends…especially friends who ALSO happen to have kids…it looks something like this:

A recent baby baring momma to my left.  Her 3rd, which makes her the smartest and nicest of all of us.  When we took this photo, all we'd had at this point was an uninterrupted dinner without kids.

But you know what? That 1% makes it worth it.  And that 49% makes you better.   And when your kid is running away from you, naked, clenching his butt cheeks, screaming at the top of his lungs, all because you simply want to PUT HIM ON THE TOILET SO YOU CAN SHOW HIM HOW HIS POOP CAN GO HANG OUT WITH ALL THE OTHER POOP FRIENDS IN THE TOILET…well, what else can I say?  It builds character.  

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