One Smart Cookie

Dear Alex,

Oh my goodness, you are FOUR! I’ve said this out loud a million times already, but I still can’t believe it. Gone are the days of babyhood and even toddlerhood– you are a smart, sweet, precocious little boy now.

As indicated by the title of this letter, you are incredibly intelligent and inquisitive. We’ve finally entered not just the “Why?” phase, but also the “How?” phase. For example, you have asked me a few times over the course of my pregnancy with Emma about how she was going to make her debut… but only recently did you question the logistics of it. A recent conversation we had went something like this:

You: Mom, how is Baby Emma coming out of your tummy?
Me: Well, the doctors are going to help me get her out.
You: But HOW are the doctors going to help you get her out?
Me: …
Me: Well, there are a few different ways it can be done. But for me, I’m going to go to the hospital and the doctors are going to cut her out of my tummy.
Alex: *GASP* But Mom! I don’t want you to be cut! That will hurt you!
Me: Don’t worry, the doctors are very careful and they will make sure to put me back together safely after Emma is out. You and Charlie came out of my tummy the same way, and the doctors at the hospital always take very good care of me.

You still looked unsure at that point, and I immediately regretted my philosophy of being as open & honest with you as possible about things like this. :-X I showed you my c-section scar as well as the video of my coming home from the hospital after Charlie was born so that you’d understand that I will heal and be just fine, which helped you feel more comfortable with the idea. You absolutely LOVE babies and are incredibly excited to meet your little sister in a couple months. This is a friend’s baby that came to visit us for a couple days recently– you were my excellent little helper while he was here.

Another moment where I thought “Oh shit, he’s getting so smart!” was when you got to see Santa this year. We had Santa visit our house during our annual playgroup Christmas party, played by Uncle Eddie. You had a great time telling Santa what you wanted for Christmas (“a ninja turtle robot”), opening up your early Santa gift, playing with your friends and eating cookies….

But that night, as we were getting ready for bed, this conversation happened:

Me: Did you have a good time with Santa today?
You: Yeah, but I think that was Uncle Eddie under there!
Me: *gulp* No, no way! That was Santa! Uncle Eddie had left to take a nap, remember?
You: Yeah, but why did Santa come down from the stairs?
Me: Well, he landed on the roof with the reindeer and climbed in through a window upstairs.
You: Oh, okay…. (still clearly unsure)

OY. I hope you will get to enjoy the magic of Santa/Christmas for at least another couple years, but it’s not looking good! And in other “smart cookie” news, you’ve also been ahead of your peers in the preschool 3’s class for some time now, and the teachers have been working on transitioning you to the pre-kindergarten/4’s class for the last couple months. You made the official full-time switch right after the holidays, and seem to be enjoying it so far.

All your teachers in both classes adore you, and never have anything but glowing remarks to make about you. I do think you’ve matured a lot over the past year, but especially in the last few months… and we could not be more proud of you. 🙂 Most of all, I love your imagination and silly sense of humor. I love seeing the world through your eyes, and you keep me smiling and laughing all day long.

Although you’re still very much a mama’s boy, you & Dad have gotten a lot closer in the last 6 months or so. You are starting to also became Dad’s little shadow and wanting to do everything he does.

With me being pregnant and tired all the time, plus Charlie being such a clingy handful, I’ve honestly been thankful for this change. But I’m just as thankful for the occasional moments when you crawl into bed and snuggle with me in the wee hours of the morning. You are growing up so fast, and I know I won’t have those opportunities much longer.

I’m reminded of this all too well whenever the time comes to do your annual birthday slideshow. It never ceases to amaze me what an awesome person you are turning out to be, despite Dad & I bumbling our way through parenthood.

We really do feel so incredibly proud & lucky to be your parents, and can’t wait to see all the fantastic things you choose to do with your life as you grow…. although it’s a bittersweet feeling, to be sure. At least for now I still have the snuggles. But when you’re all grown up and reading this, don’t forget how much your dear old mom LOVES Alex hugs. Even when they are at 4am! 😉

All my love,
Mom

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Bros Being Bros

To my darling boys,

This time around I decided to write a letter to you both, because honestly so much of this summer and fall has been about the two of  you growing together as brothers. You guys are together almost 24/7 (aside from daycare), including the major development I mentioned in my last letter about starting to share a bedroom. Although my greatest joy is still watching the two of you together, it is also one of my greatest challenges as a parent these days. Don’t let the cute pictures deceive you… life with two toddlers can be TOUGH!

As I said, you two are together much of the time and do love each other bunches… but you’re also both growing leaps and bounds as individuals.

Alex, you’re learning so much about the world around you, about logic, emotions and relationships. School has done so much for you socially, and you continue to come more and more out of your shell everyday! You’re incredibly smart, kind, cautious and thoughtful. Your teachers never have anything but wonderful things to say about you, and just about everyday at least one of your classmates runs up to you to give you a hug goodbye as you’re leaving. As I mentioned in your last letter, you still love to read, build, and create things. You still love ninja turtles, but have expanded your horizons quite a bit as well (which is great, because the rest of us are getting kind of sick of TMNT around here…haha). Like your father, you’re incredibly creative and artistically talented. I could not be more proud of you. 🙂

Charlie, far behind you are the days where I worried about developmental delays– you are ALL OVER THE PLACE now and into everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING. You are strong, fearless, independent, and stubborn. You are developing excellent problem-solving skills already. You love anything that involves movement– sports, cars/trucks/trains (Thomas the Tank Engine is your favorite character at the moment), music, and animals. But you also love anything your big brother is up to…. much to his dismay. 😉 Your language skills have come a long way in the last month or two, but you have not developed Alex’s social skills (yet– totally normal for a not-quite 2 year old), and so he gets frustrated with you often. The good times still far outweigh the bad though, and overall I think you two get along pretty well considering your ages and how very different your personalities are. You are definitely a more challenging toddler, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that Stoddard personality all too well, and I think it will serve you well later in life…. if I can teach you to channel it properly! Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

Charlie, you also recently mastered climbing, and have enjoyed climbing into Alex’s bed every chance you get. That’s led to a whole lot of trial & error in regards to your sleeping arrangements, as we had to de-bunk the beds for fear that you might somehow fall from up there. Alex, you’ve been as wonderful through all of these changes as you possibly could be, which included many nights of Charlie snuggling up next to you, hogging your bed space & waking you up earlier than you’d like. Things are starting to settle down and everyone is sleeping well again, thank goodness! I’m really glad we decided to work on this transition well before your baby sister arrives. I’d rather be working these kinks out now, rather than when we have a newborn to deal with on top of everything else…. as you can see, there’s never a dull moment around here! 😉

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But as I said before, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I spoke about how you two have grown as individuals and as brothers…. but I can also say that we have grown as a family. Dad & I have grown, as individuals & as a couple, so much in these last 6 months as well. Being parents to two toddlers, and then making the decision to bring another beautiful life into the world, has not only brought us more joy and fulfillment than I could ever truly describe in a letter… but it has made us better people. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. We love you boys so much, and can’t wait to see what the future brings. 🙂

All my love,
Mom