Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month Fifty

Dear Gwen,

Today you are 50 months old.

You are really growing and changing, becoming so much more… well, more yourself. A great example of this is that a couple of weeks ago, you said to me, “Mom, every day I would like to go different places all day long and only go home at the end of the day.” Yes – you are a goer, an extrovert, an active girl who is always looking for excitement, experiences, stimulation. I did sort of suspect that you would just like to go from preschool to the playground to the swimming pool to a friend’s house to a restaurant and then finally (if absolutely necessary) home to collapse into bed, every day. But the fact that you could put all those ideas together and sum your preferences up in that way? Dude. You’re so grown-up!

The glitch, of course, is that I am not like you. I am an introvert, a tired, quiet homebody who would really like to just sit on the couch and, you know, not go anywhere. It’s kind of a challenge (UNDERSTATEMENT) to balance your need to be busy and entertained with my need to be quiet and undisturbed. But that’s a whole different story.

Another example of your awesome growing self-awareness happened when you got an injury at preschool a while ago. Your teachers took really great care of you, and you were fine. When I asked you how you felt when you got hurt, you told me that you were really angry because you knew you were going to cry and you didn’t want to but you couldn’t help it. I felt so sad for you, because what an awful feeling that is – but I also felt in awe of your ability to recognize and describe so many different emotions.

Somewhere in the past month or so, you have acquired the ability to talk to adults. On our recent vacation, you got your face painted while I sat nearby. The artist asked you various questions: “What colour would you like the butterfly to be?” “Would you like lipstick?” “Would you like glitter?” “What colour?” Instead of looking to me to interpret, you answered her appropriately with your choices. I was so impressed with your sureness. It may seem like a small thing, but being able to interact with an adult without a parent acting as an intermediary is a pretty big deal, when you think about it. A similar thing happened again when we took you to the hairdresser to get a trim and she started making small talk with you. Again, you answered her questions appropriately and told her stories about your recent vacation. It was pretty fun to sit nearby and eavesdrop on that conversation! (Sample: “The roller coaster goes up and up and up, then down, and around, and WOOOO!")

Speaking of our recent vacation, we had the BEST time. We went to Vancouver and visited the Zoo, Playland, the Aquarium, and Science World, in addition to seeing some family and friends. (There was also a very brief but very fruitful trip to Ikea, where you played in the playroom and we spent about $100 on stuff for you.) Playland was definitely your favourite, and you spent about an hour riding the aforementioned (children’s) roller coaster over and over and over again. Of course I loved sharing that with you, but I think my favourite memory was watching you experience Science World for the first time. YOU LOVED IT. We were there for nearly five hours, which is a long time for a four-year-old! You participated in one of the shows, experimented with everything you could get your hands on, and enjoyed pretty much every minute of our time there. There was an exhibit of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions, which were built to spec out of his ancient notebooks, and you immediately grasped that a certain logo on the display meant hands-off, while another meant you were welcome to touch and try the device. You tried every one you could, asking me what it was called, what it was meant to do, how it worked, and so on. I was really impressed with how engaged you were, and how respectful of the rules. You made me so proud!

True to your stimulation-seeking nature, you are a pretty good traveler, and adapt well to new places, routines, and adventures. You were up until nearly 10pm every night, but made up for the lost sleep by having a snooze in the car every afternoon. (I forgot how bloody long it takes to get ANYWHERE in the Lower Mainland!)

Despite our different preferences re: staying home vs. going out, there are some ways in which we are very similar. Sometimes it feels very clear that your brain was somewhat born from my brain, and I totally ‘get’ how you operate because I operate that way too. One example is your distaste for sleep, or more specifically for the period of time in which you lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. You know what? I hate that time too! Some people fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow, but I’ve never been one of them. My mind paces endlessly, thinking in circles about any number of inane things. For the past year or so, I’ve been taking melatonin before bed to help me resolve that. So when you started telling me how much you hate sleep, and that you wanted to stay up all night and just be with me, I understood how you felt. In your words, “Sleep is BORING.” It took a few days of thinking, but I hit upon a solution, and downloaded a bedtime meditation CD for kids from iTunes. I felt like if you just had something to listen to for 30-40 minutes, you might be less bored, and then meanwhile you would fall asleep. Well, this might be the best $10 I’ve spent this year. I love that it is specific to children, talking about subjects (teddy bears, soft blankets, stars and clouds, the man in the moon) in terms that you can understand and are interested in. The narrator speaks in a very soft, soothing voice, helping you slow your breathing and relax your body. It is a huge help and really smoothes your transition into sleep.

Well, I guess that’s about it for this month, Gwen. As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion and four, and can’t wait to share the next month’s adventures with you.


PS One more thing: You can write your name now, with no help whatsoever.  WOW!

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