Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Gwen: Month 53

Dear Gwen,

Today you are fifty-three months old.

Your personality is becoming more and more evident and in general, that personality is fascinating.  You are energetic, happy, creative, funny, exuberant, loving, curious, and brave.  Just about every day, I get to hear you say some variation of "Mom, I have a GREAT idea."  Life with you is many things ... but it is not dull.

A few days ago we were snuggling in the big bed before starting our day, and I warned that, "At the end of this song, we will have to get up and do our morning jobs."
You asked, "How many people will have to get up and do morning jobs?"
I responded, "Three people will have to get up and do morning jobs!"
So you asked, "Will it be Mom, and Dad, and Mooey (stuffed animal)?"

Ha!  What a great example of both your sense of humour and your distaste for mornings.  I know plenty of parents whose kids get up way too early in the morning, and I have nothing but sympathy for them.  On the other hand, it's not easy at the other end of the spectrum, either: dragging an unwilling child through the routine tasks of the morning - go potty, get dressed, have breakfast, wash hands, brush hair, get shoes - when every single component of that routine is an ENORMOUS battle.  Still, if I had to choose between a child who starts her day at 5:30am and one that would, if I let her, probably sleep till 9, I think I'm going to stick with the morning dawdler.  At least I get to have the battles after getting a full night of sleep.

We have made some changes to our routines now that (pre) school has started again.  For one thing, we recently implemented the rule that you don't get to watch any TV in the mornings.  You were really getting into the habit of watching an episode of Dora or Diego or whatever else we had on DVD every morning, which caused your breakfast-ingestion process to lengthen out to about 25 minutes.  Which would be fine, if all the other steps in the morning routine were completed quickly.  But as mentioned above, THEY ARE NOT.  We don't have 25 minutes to spend on breakfast.  And then immediately when the show was finished, you would want another one, and then we would be fighting about that instead of washing-hands-brushing-hair-getting-shoes-on-getting-out-the-door.  Solution?  No TV in the mornings.  You can thank your Auntie Sara for suggesting that rule, and I have to say you have not had a lot of difficulty accepting it.

On the flip side, you are now watching TV more often after school (again, just a 30-minute episode).  You seem to come home from school pretty worn out and need that downtime to process your day and then be ready to interact with others again.  This works out pretty well as it gives me time to put away our work/school things, get dinner going, and so on.

In general, I think you are really enjoying being at school 4 days a week (as opposed to last year which was only 2 days a week).  Last year's routine was preschool on Monday, Gramma on Tuesdays, daycare on Wednesdays, preschool on Thursdays, daycare on Fridays.  A lot of shifting around from one place to another, and you did well with it, but I can absolutely feel the relief you are experiencing as a result of not having to deal with that this year.  Now you are four days at preschool and one day at Gramma's.  In addition to having more consistency, I think you are happy to build stronger friendships with your teachers and friends at school.  I know last year the teachers would mention some event that was coming up tomorrow or later in the week, and you wouldn't always be there for that event, so that led to a lot of disappointment and frustration.  Now that has almost completely been eliminated, and you are definitely more comfortable with the more consistent routine.  And just think, in less than a year you will be in kindergarten, FIVE days a week.
You've attended two piano lessons so far, and you are really enjoying them.  Your class is part of the Music for Young Children program, an internationally-acclaimed program that is taught in a group setting.  I'm a little disappointed that the classes were scheduled during my work day so I can't attend with you, but at least they happen to fall on Dad's day off so he can take you.  And after all, it's probably really good that the two of you have something special that you do together, even if I am a little jealous.  The classes at this stage are focussing on tempo (not too fast, not too slow), loud vs soft, and dinosaur dens - these are the two black keys on either side of the D key.  When Dinosaur wants to play, I'm told, he comes out of his den and plays on his patio.  In addition to actually playing the keyboard, there is lots of colouring, paper-cutting, puppet-making, and other very interactive activities to support your lessons.  I must confess that I am just starting to get into the habit of making time in our day to complete your MYC homework, but that's a typical symptom of a busy September transition, I think!

You are growing increasingly affectionate and want to be physically touching me all the time.  You often ask me, "Can I hug you forever?" to which, obviously, the answer is YES.  I can't believe how lucky I am to get so many hugs from you!

At the same time, however, you are getting very big and very strong and very, well, boney, and having you clamber all over my body is not always very pleasant.  You love to be in physical contact, but this is not a "sit still and snuggle up to Mom" type event.  It's more of a "I have a hard time telling the difference between Mom and a jungle gym" sort of thing.  I've been trying to persuade you lately that actually, all the parts of my body have feelings, and those feelings include pain when they are being stepped on, elbowed, kicked, head-butted, etc.  You are not quite buying it.

It seems that your favourite word these days is "actually".  You use this word mainly to correct the other people in your world about how they are not meeting your stringent requirements.  For example:

Gramma: Let's tidy up your toys and then have some dinner.
Gwen: Actually, I have a better idea.  Why don't I keep playing, and you go make dinner.

Mom: I made spaghetti for dinner.
Gwen: Actually, I wanted hot dogs for dinner.

Dad: It's time for your bath!
Gwen: Actually, I don't want to have a bath.

You say "actually" so often that it's kind of become a running joke between your parents and grandparents.  You say it with such authority and intention that it's hard to argue with you.  It's also hard not to find it hilarious.

Well, that's it for this month's newsletter, Gwen.  As always, I love you a million, billion, kajillion and four ... and yes, you can hug me forever.


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