Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month Forty-Nine

Dear Gwen,

Today you are forty-nine months old.

I think the biggest change this month is not necessarily within you, but due to the fact that I have been reading a brilliant parenting book, Raising Your Spirited Child ,  which has caused me to see you in a whole new light.  I'm sure I'll be blogging more (much more!) about this book in the coming weeks, but for the moment I will just say that I have a completely different perspective on you, your behaviour, your emotions, and the way you and I interact.  It's so great!  I am really relieved to know that (a) you are not misbehaving to get attention, but are truly harder to calm than other kids, and (b) it's not a personal failing on my part that I can't keep up with your energy and intensity.  These revelations have made the past month a whole lot more pleasant for the both of us!

In the past week or so, you have decided to boycott sleep.  Your constant refrain at bedtime is, "I hate sleep - sleep is boring!"  We have tried to explain to you that in fact, you DON'T hate sleep - you hate the part where you lie in bed and wait to fall asleep.  This technique is working less and less reliably, and last week it fell apart altogether and you ended up staying awake for one or even two hours past your normal bedtime, three nights in a row.  Well, to be honest, I had been thinking that with the change in the weather and the lovely spring and summer evenings we (hopefully) have to look forward to, it wouldn't be so bad for you to stay up a little later.  Maybe we could get out for a walk after dinner, even.  As long as you are not dawdly in the mornings or grumpy in the afternoons, I think it might just be time for your bedtime to get pushed a little later.

In only a couple of weeks, we will be leaving on an exciting family vacation, where you certainly will not be going to bed at 7pm.  We are going to Vancouver to celebrate my university graduation and have a lot of adventures planned: the Vancouver Aquarium, Science World, Greater Vancouver Zoo, and of course Playland.  We may even go to the waterslides or an indoor play centre!  I can't wait to share all these things with you.  It's great to be the mom of a four-year-old, because you don't need naps or diapers or special food or utensils or even, it seems, particular attention paid to your bedtime.  We can just go with the flow and do whatever we are in the mood to do.

A few weeks ago, you and I went on a "Parent and Tot Forest Exploration Walk" put on by the local land trust.  It was pretty fun, and we even got to pot a wild strawberry plant to take home!  The forest guide pointed out various types of plants and let us know whether they were dangerous, edible, native, invasive, etc.  One dangerous plant she pointed out was the stinging nettle, which she warned us all never to touch.  "Fortunately, the antidote to stinging nettle nearly always grows right nearby," we learned.  About 15 minutes later, we got to have a real-life demonstration of this, as you suddenly started wailing as a result of having touched some stinging nettle.  We all started looking for the antidote, which turned out in this case to be nowhere nearby, but we did find it eventually and it did seem to soothe your skin.  It's one of the treats of having a spirited child, that I get to experience things I wouldn't otherwise!

Speaking of plants, you are pretty into gardening these days (which makes one of us).  Your garden box now contains a scarlet bean plant you brought home from preschool and a wild strawberry plant from our nature walk.  We are also going to plant some sunflowers in the yard (hopefully this weekend, if the weather is nice).  You have been asking about planting sunflowers for several months, so I'm glad spring is finally here and I can stop telling you no!

Another change lately is that I am trying to learn how to take care of your gorgeous, curly hair.  It seems that your 'baby curls' are here to stay, and since I've never had curly hair, I have been asking my many curly-haired friends for tips.  It turns out, taking care of curly hair is very different from taking care of straight hair!  My hope is that if I can help you learn to take good care of your hair, you will feel beautiful and pampered and enjoy this natural beauty that you have.  Your hair gets so many compliments from everyone around you.  A few weeks ago, one mom - who was seeing your hair down for the first time, instead of in ponytails - asked me if I had curled it with a curling iron!  Yes, your ringlets are that perfect.  It is taking a bit of trial and error to figure out the right hair routine for you, since - unlike an adult - you bathe at night, not in the morning, and we don't use a hair dryer.  We'll keep working on it!

Well, I think that's it for this month, Gwen.  As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion and four.


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