Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Gwen: Month Forty

Dear Gwen,

Today you are 40 months old.

It’s been a really busy month. We spent some time in Powell River and at our family cabin on Powell Lake a couple of weeks ago. Usually when we’re there, we’re surrounded by a loud and lively crowd of people, which is … well, loud and lively. And, you know, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this time, it was just four of us: you and me, and your Grandpa Ron and Grannie Maureen. It was a really special and fun time. You and your grandparents enjoyed each other so much, and it was so great to watch you get to know each other a little bit better. It was also very cool to have some daytrip visitors: your great Grandpa George came up for a day and made you giggle uncontrollably. Another day, our friends Nicole and Breana visited, and it was a lot of fun to watch you interact with someone close to your own age; it was also fun to see the many differences between a two-year-old and a three-year-old!

Close on the heels of the cabin trip was the annual fair in Nanaimo, the Vancouver Island Exhibition (VI-Ex). We decided to buy passes and spend two days there, and they were action-packed days! You went on many rides – although you are now tall enough for crazy stuff like the mini-roller coaster and the Ferris Wheel (if I go along), you still prefer the merry-go-round to anything else. We also watched several shows at the community stage. You were completely entranced by a local dance troupe, and you got to ham it up as part of the magic show! Another highlight was the fact that since you were the only kid to show up for the Children’s Parade, you walked away with a lovely prize ribbon for “Best Costume”. (If I’d known it was a prize-potential situation, I might have dressed you in something a little more organized than “Superhero Warrior Parade Leader”, but then again … enh, probably not.)

Summer with a potty-trained, non-napping kid … ahh, what a lovely thing. Not worrying about nap schedules or diapers or bringing along special food and utensils? Absolutely priceless. I tell you, three is my favourite age. You are so full of energy and joy and competence, and you are learning so much every day. For example, while your dad and I often lament that you seem to have much better things to do than listen to us, you proved me wrong while we were at the fair. You were trying your best to climb a very steep inflatable track so that you could go down the slide, but you slipped near the top, bumped down, and gave yourself a scare. After a cuddle from me, you decided you wanted to try again (persistence! Great trait!). I pointed out to you the grid of red canvas straps on either side of the track that you could hold onto as you climbed. Sure enough, you heeded my words, held the straps, and had a hugely successful slide down. Hooray! Sometimes, Mom does know what she’s talking about.

I was also very impressed with your bravery on some of the rides at the fair. You weren’t quite sure about the roller coaster, and once it started it became clear that it was not your favourite. Still, you coped. And what really astounded me was when you got off the ride and said to me, “That ride was a little bit scary. But it was also still fun.” You told me that the worst part of the ride was how bumpy it was … and the best part of the ride was how bumpy it was.

This month also saw an important new addition: a big-girl bed. Yes, you outgrew your toddler bed some time ago (you are about 40” tall) and we found a single mate’s bed for you on Craigslist. With the contribution of new bedding from your Gramma and a new paint job by Gramma and me, your room has been transformed into a big kid room! You love your new bed, and I love that we can sit on it together to read stories, and snuggle in it at bedtime and in the morning.

Lately at bedtime, much to my sadness, you refuse to tell a “rainbow story” from beginning to end. Instead, you insist that “it’s your turn and my turn and your turn,” so we tell the story together, a couple of sentences at a time. A few nights ago, we told the story of an imaginary rabbit named Peter (whose day was much more playground-centric than Beatrix Potter could have thought). At the end of the story, you asked, “What do you think the best part of Peter’s day was?” and then you told me what it was, based on the story we had just told. You knew what the worst part of Peter’s day was, too – AND your answers made sense. Awesome abstract thinking!

You continue to astound me with your abilities. Your dad bought you a math activity book rated for “Pre-K” which I suppose, technically, you are, and you blew me away not only with the fact that you COULD do the activities, but the fact that you WANTED to. Sure, I had to read you the instructions, because amazing though you are, you can’t read quite yet (give it another couple months …). In one case, I was trying to figure out how to explain the activity to you in terms you could understand, when you suddenly started doing it, CORRECTLY, on your own. Kid, you are leaving me in the dust.

A new skill has emerged this month, and it’s one that I couldn’t be more pleased about. You are now able to wash your own hands after a meal. Generally, both you and the surrounding area are a food-encrusted, soggy mess when you finish eating. The fact that I can now delegate part of the clean up by sending you off to the bathroom to wash your own hands? I love it. Not only are you learning good grooming habits, but your crazy busy hands are out of my way while I clean up the rest of the disaster area. It’s a great milestone and I am a big fan.

As I mentioned last month, we got you enrolled in gymnastics, which is due to start in a few weeks. This will be your first EVER non-parent-participation class! I can’t wait to see how you will do. Even more exciting than gymnastics is the big event coming next Monday: your first day of preschool. You are SO excited about this! We have already gone to the store and picked out your new lunchbox together (surprisingly, you did not choose Batman OR Tinkerbell, but Hello Kitty). Although you have told me a few times that you want me to come with you to school (and oh, wouldn’t I love to tag along!), I am pretty sure that once we arrive you will be ready to dive in to all the new experiences and friendships that school has to offer. I’ll be lucky if I get a “Bye!” from over your shoulder as you ditch me at the door. At which point I will put your freshly-labeled clothes into your cubby, hand your lunch to a teacher, and go cry in my car because my baby is ALL GROWN UP.

So many milestones this summer, Gwen. It feels like time is flying by and before I know it, you’ll be celebrating another birthday! I think these newsletters are my way to try and capture the little moments that make up our day-to-day lives, my way to try and slow time down and keep all these memories.

As always, my big girl, I love you a million billion kajillion and three!


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