I have been away for so long now that I feel guilty I have missed noting and archiving important milestones in my kids’ lives. Regular readers of this blog know that my priorities shifted considerably after the launch of theParentVoice.Com, an online magazine for multicultural and multiracial families to call home. As a result, I have been neglecting my blog and I feel terrible about it. I am so consumed by everything related to tPV, that ThePhdMama has taken a backseat. By the time I sit down to write something, I am really tired or think of more important things I need to do for the Magazine. I am hoping to start writing more regularly again or at least once or twice a week, even if they are short updates.
In this post, I want to write an update on where my little big boy is at, at 3.5 years, and what we have been doing.
He is 3.5 years old but suddenly, he looks like a really big kid to me. My sweet little boy is becoming my sweet little big boy and I feel very ambivalent about it. Sometimes my heart swells with pride and at other times, it melts into a puddle of tears. Yes, we are still dealing with age-appropriate mega tantrums (for lack of a better word) – he can get upset and make ridiculous (to grownups) judgment calls (like using a marker to draw lines all over the play mats. Thank goodness for washable markers!!) on any day at any time and for any reason. No amount of sweet talking, reasoning, screaming, or threatening works. A combination of all sometimes works. These are the times I can’t wait for him to grow up and grow out of this terribly trying phase of his toddlerhood – terrible for him and for us.
At other times, which is most of the time, on good and great days, my child is the most thoughtful, loving, fun-spirited, and happy child you would find at any age. When he falls asleep resting his head on my lap or when he snuggles next to me as we watch a movie together or when I hear his gentle snores right next to me at the end of a long and tiring day within seconds of my putting him to bed and kissing him good-night, or when he hands me a Cheerio-necklace and says, “Mommy, I made this special for you”, or thanks me for making dinner (most of which he does not even eat – yep, going through that phase now) or asks me if I had a good night and slept well….I just look at him with pride, joy, infinite love and sometimes the question..WHO IS THIS KID!?
I even asked him this once….After he had done something really nice and thoughtful showing the maturity of a much older kid, I asked excitedly and loudly “Who are you!!!” He smiled his winky smile and simply said, “I am TJ”… and that is exactly right. This is who he is. This is his personality. He is testing boundaries but he also knows when he has crossed them. He is developing his sense of right and wrong and what works and doesn’t. He is learning to read situations and ahem…Mommy’s moods. He is learning so, so much… He is growing up.
Here are other specific things he has been up to:
Lately, the milestones he has crossed have been off the charts. It started with him insisting on trying to put his own socks on…great except annoying when we are in a rush. He would practice his skills in the middle of the night or early in the morning. I would randomly wake up at those times of the night/morning to see light coming from under his door. I would tiptoe over only to find him trying to put a sock on or trying to get himself dressed.
It worked. He can now put his own socks on but much to his frustration (and ours), he can’t always get heels and toes lined up where they need to be. He is very particular about the lines on the toes-part of socks not bothering him. They have to line up with his toes and obviously, not bother him. So he’ll put his socks on, struggle to align everything and then yell out in frustration….”Mommmmy, please help me!!!!” I do, when it’s time to wear socks. In the middle of the night….I do, sometimes. Clearly, this is very important to him and I don’t want to dismiss it. I am not happy doing it, but I’ll do it. #Momlife
Not only can he take his clothes off, he can put them back on too. He does struggle with shirts but once we put it over his neck, he can do the rest and he needs our help taking it off over his head. I have often found him deep into his dresser drawers trying to pick a shirt out or in the midst of a pile of clothes on the floor which he did in order to find a shirt he liked. I do have to note that he is very particular about what he wears. I dislike the fact that he is so into character shirts. I may have started it by buying him his first Thomas Tank Engine – Glow in the Dark Thomas (affiliate link) and I do regret it. He also had some hand-me-downs of Thomas and Cars characters from his cousins. Now, even though he’ll wear others, his favorites are definitely things (including underwear) with said characters. Sigh!
He can put his velcro shoes on his own too, with some frustration, but mostly, he is good at it. His favorites, yep, his Cars shoes that light up. He refuses to wear his two perfectly good hand-me-down pairs of shoes. I bought him a bigger size so he could wear them longer. Gifted on his 3rd birthday (he asked them for his birthday after he saw a boy at a Pump It Up wearing them), he has pretty much worn them every single day since. 6 months and still going strong while those two other pairs just sit around, doing nothing.
While we were seeing him progressing along, a lot of things seemed to have happened all at once.
I started taking the kids for a walk after dinner when Aaron was away in India for work. This was a good time to get the kids out and calm everyone down before bedtime. I would stroll with Teju on her stroller and TJ and I would walk alongside, admiring trees, birds, picking and blowing on dandelions, and doing all the little fun things you do with you walk 2 mph with kids 🙂
After Aaron returned, we continued our walks, only this time, we had TJ ride his easy ride bike. He would pedal while being pushed by Aaron and I would stroll with Teju. It was a nice time to spend together as a family. Before we had kids, Aaron and I loved going for walks, bike rides, jogs, and such. It was really nice to get the whole family moving together.
Teju, lately, had started to sit in her stroller the whole time. She wanted to walk too! So we let her. Of course, a mere walk wasn’t adventurous enough! She had to do this too:
TJ did not like this. So finally, annoyed with his sister always wanting to push him, which was enough motivation, he took off one day, and just like that, learned to ride his bike by himself.
We are so proud of him!!
For some reason, lately, he does not seem to care about his toys as much. As punishment, we have often taken toys away, be they a few cars or trains or trucks, and he gets upset about it for maybe 6 minutes. After that, he forgets all about them. Once for hitting his sister with a train track, I took all his trains and tracks away – this was over 2 weeks ago, he was upset for two minutes and begged me to not take them away which I did anyway. After those 2 minutes and until this day, he hasn’t even asked for them back. This, to me, means that he isn’t really that attached to material objects and I think that’s a good thing.
He does not even care much for arts and crafts right now. Perhaps all of this is a phase. I hope it is. I miss the times we would just hang out with him painting or coloring or scribbling and pasting felt stickers all over his paper. Now when he does, on occasion ask to do arts or crafts or humors me, he is more interested in taking the markers or crayons and writing all over the table and play mats with them. He is more interested in peeling the paper off the crayons than actually using those crayons. Of course, writing with markers all over one’s hands is always fun!! Not!
He does not play to my entertainment and this upsets me because I am the one left cleaning up his mess (although I do make him do some of it too). I wish he would enjoy these creative engagements more at home because I know he does have fun doing them at school.
He doesn’t have official chores yet but he loves helping out anyway. For now. His favorite thing to help out with, whether I need his help or not, is mopping. After a few times where I had to scold him, I gave up. Now, he is allowed to mop but he has to wait for me to finish sweeping. Once I am done, I put the wet cloth over the Swiffer and let him have a go at it. He loves taking it for a spin around the living room and kitchen and I just watch. Helping daddy vacuum our floors, and sometimes getting to do it by himself is another favorite activity.
He loves helping daddy clean our cars. He loves watering our grass because, what kid doesn’t!! So much fun to spray around and get soaking wet! He gets excited about helping me bring our trash can back in on garbage day and drags the small one by himself. He also enjoys helping me bake or make something he likes.
Absolutely 99% perfectly awesome! I love his curiosity and I am really proud of myself for being super patient when it comes to answering his many, oh so many, why questions. The “whys” started when he was a few months shy of his third birthday and have gotten increasingly more complex, intriguing, and clever. The “whys” went from everyday inquiries over routine things to things like why cement trucks turn all the time to how vacuum cleaners are made, how bread is made, how toothpaste is made, to how toothbrush is made (thank goodness for YouTube!!) to why Boss Baby came out of a factory machine (we watched a preview) to why his sister can’t speak to why our neighborhood park (Alum Rock Park) was shut down after a mudslide following flooding last year to questions about the recent earthquakes we experienced (why should we take cover under a table) to questions about how nights and days happen to….just all kinds of wondrously imaginative and smart questions…
He is at a great age. Of course I have my moments, hours, and days of anger, frustration, and “when-will-this-end’ screams…but oh the love of a little child…so, so precious. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love his creative and imaginative thinking. I hope his inquisitive spirit never ceases to ask questions, no matter how old he is or what heights he climbs in life.