Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month Forty-Eight

Dear Gwen,

Today you are four years old.
When you were a baby, four seemed like an impossibly grown-up number.  And it still kind of does.  Four year olds choose their own clothes, they dress themselves, they put on their own shoes and jackets.  Four year olds have astounding and fascinating perspectives about their world.  Four year olds can clean up after themselves, they can climb the biggest stuff at the playground, and they are starting to learn to read and write.  Four year olds are SO BIG!  And now, you’re one of them. 
This past month, as usual, has been full of adventure.  We went to a Family Skate Night with your preschool class and I was really proud and impressed to see how confident you were on the ice – I guess those Boots to Blades classes last year stuck with you somewhat.  Similarly, I took you swimming one afternoon at the local pool and you blew my mind with how comfortable you were in the water.  By the end of our time there, you were jumping in with great enthusiasm, over and over, and asking me not to catch you!  It’s amazing to me how fast you learn, grow, and change.  When you finished your last set of swimming lessons, about ten months ago, I noticed that the next series for you would be a parent-free class – and at the time, I couldn’t even imagine how that scenario could be successful.  Now, I can, and I am looking forward to enrolling you in lessons again this summer/fall.

On the same theme of not needing me as much anymore, I have pledged that this is the summer when I will take you to the playground and sit on the bench to watch you play (rather than following you around the playground).  You get to burn energy, I get to conserve it – everyone is happy.
You had a lot of fun over Easter.  We went to a fairy-themed birthday party, where you got to dress up as a fairy, make your own wings, choose a fairy name, and even go on a fairy treasure hunt.  Your enthusiasm and over-the-top joy really tickled one of the moms who threw the party, I think.  The next day,  after you participated in the Easter pageant at church, we went on a long-anticipated Easter Egg Hunt put on by a local organization.  The Easter Bunny was there, and you loved dancing with her after all the eggs were found!  It was really fun to watch.

You got several great gifts for Easter, but the one I was most excited about were the two tickets to see Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” at the local theatre.  You have been obsessed with the Busytown book for the past couple of months, and recently your dad downloaded several episodes of “Busytown Mysteries” which I think you would watch all day if you could.  (In fact – one day I was too sick to parent properly, and that’s exactly what you did; watch Busytown Mysteries all darn day.)  Dad took you to the show and you both had a great time.  “How busy are you?  Busytown busy!”
And then it was time to get ready for your birthday party.  I think this is the first year that you could really anticipate the coming party, and help me plan it.  And you really were a big help!  You decided who to invite, helped me make the invitations (your passion for crafts continues unabated), helped me with the goodie bags, and even told me what kind of cake you wanted: “pink with purple on top and then Tinkerbell on top of that.”  Thanks to my amazing and gifted friend Tami, who has taken professional cake decorating classes, your cake was just as you’d requested.  The only thing you weren’t so helpful with was suggesting what kind of food we’d have at the party.  I even got out all your “Kids Cook” recipe books so we could choose some good snack/lunch foods.  Your list of requests went something like this: “cake, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, smoothies, and blueberries.”  I tried to get you interested in something NON-sugary, but you wouldn’t have it!  Fortunately, I decided to create the menu myself, and I think it all worked out.  Rest assured, though, the sugar camp was still well-represented!
A snapshot of who you are at four years old: you are joyful, passionate, willful, determined, dramatic, hilarious, fun, silly, dawdly, distractible, clever, creative, loving, and bold.  You are a strange and unpredictable mix between independent (you want to pick out your own clothes) and dependent (you ask for help washing your hands).  It seems like my day to day interactions with you are so focused on chores, grooming, maintenance, and transitioning you from one thing to the next (get ready for school, get out the door, get home, put things away, eat dinner, get ready for bed, go to sleep … repeat!) that it’s hard to get a perspective on you as a person, but every once in a while I catch a glimpse of you, and it always takes my breath away.  You are an amazing child and I am so glad I get to watch that amazingness take shape.  I love you a million, billion, kajillion and FOUR.

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