Reese started telling me how to write the letter H this afternoon. I drew some incorrect Hs and he carefully showed me how to make one correctly, then told me he can write his name. Trying not to over-encourage, I managed to get a clean sheet of paper in front of him without triggering his "I'm not your trained monkey" reflex, and he slowly and deliberately wrote his name. He's so proud, and I'm so exicted! This is the first time I've really seen him show interest in *anything* representational - he doesn't enjoy or seek out drawing or writing ever.
The letter Es are especially thrilling. Every one of those crossbars was carefully added.
Apparently the term "underpants" is a regional dialectal and/or family culture thing. Dan and at least one of my sister-in-laws has commented that they never hear anybody but me and my siblings say it. They are all doing their best to make sure that their progeny use the superior term, "underwear".
This summer, Griffin and Reese both discovered the joy of that age-old joke of referring to something "under there" and then chortling when their conversational partner tries to clarify, "under where?"
Get it? Under where? Underwear? I just made you say underwear! Ha!
(Part of the joy, evidently, is explaining the joke in painful detail every time you tell it.)
Another classic that rings through the rooms of our house:
"I don't know, I don't care, I just saw your underwear."
Reese informed me a few days ago that he was wearing two pairs of underwear, "so that I can't touch my penis." Um, ok. You do that.
This morning he informed me that he was wearing three pairs of underwear, "so that I can't stick my finger in my butt." This seemed like a reasonable goal.
This afternoon I found four pairs of underwear shucked off in one piece, laying in the hallway. I don't want to know what the fourth pair was supposed to be for. Or what the formerly multilayered person was doing without his quadruple cottony protection.
Reese wants a red curtain with black polka dots so that he can be Captain Underpants for Halloween. I'm torn between doing it because it's such a fun idea, and telling him he really can't wear his underwear around the neighborhood as a costume. (Plus, it could be cold in late Oct.) It's enough that the child strips down to backwards briefs every day after preschool, right?
First game of the season. Griff went up to U8 from U6 this year, which means no more bunchball and tiny goals - the under-8s (over-6s) use regulation-sized fields and goals and learn about playing specific positions. To mark this transition to more serious soccer (a change from our dabbler season in U6 to see if he liked it) I took Griff cleat shopping, a failed expedition that ended with my having to buy three pairs from Zappos, hoping one would fit. Only one did, and as luck would have it, they're the coolest pair, that apparently make him run faster and jump higher.
His team was bested 5-0 (I'm going to fault the league for this - G's team is all 1st graders and this team was mostly bigger, more experienced 2nd graders, no fair!) but their spirits were not dampened.
I wish I could say the same for Dan, who spent much of the game handling a colossal Reese-style meltdown. At least Xander had fun, exclaiming "soccer ball!!!" and showing me his best dribbling skills. The kid is ready to play.
It is gorgeous weather, y'all. GORGEOUS. I adore the fall - the blue skies, the crisp air. Ok, it wasn't crisp today, it was swelteringly hot, but the babies and I had a great day at the gardens nonetheless.
The rose garden is in full bloom right now. The plantings were redone/expanded a year or two ago and I've never seen the roses looking as good as they did today. I have to admit, I always thought it was a lame rose garden until now. The roses more than made up for it today, catching my attention with clouds of perfume wafting down to the nearby pond. I literally reversed course to go find the source of the scent. Xander didn't really care to sniff any buds, but Luke obliged me and checked out the flowers. He was also much more camera-ready than my own child today, so instead of close-ups of X you'll get L.
Is it strange that I want to brag on what Luke is doing? This kid is so impressive to me. For those who haven't picked up on the million-and-one posts about our alliance with the Allen-Short family, Luke was born one day before Xander, and his birth was attended by the same midwife. His older sister Ruby goes to Sabot and I met his parents just before the babies were born and bonded with them over the trials and tribulations of sleepless nights and other things having to do with adding a new person to your family. Adam and I have been swapping kids on Thursdays and Fridays for somewhere close to a year, and let me tell you, he and Xander are like brothers. They're thick as thieves and the most social and communicative 21.5-month-olds I've ever met.
Luke has mad skillz, I tell you. See that stack of cars? He did that himself, over and over, perching each one on top of the last, using the wheels to line them up. Impressive. And the goggles? Also done by himself. It was the funniest thing, he would prop them on his forehead, then pull them down over his eyes, then back to the forehead, back to the eyes. That might not sound like much to you, but trust me, that's a pretty awesome skill for a not-yet-two-year-old. Way to go, Lukey Boy!
We have been meaning to find a new dentist for a while - the old one is too far away, but we had already decided not to visit her again after our last visit, when she gave Griff nitrous oxide for a procedure that did not require any anesthesia, without informing us or obtaining our consent. Not cool. Penalty: ejection from the game. Richmonders, I've since heard other negative reviews of her from local dental professionals, and feel comfortable telling you to avoid Dr. Lisa Crisp of Twin Hickory Dental.
When we moved we discovered that our new digs are a three-block walk from a dental practice but not wanting any repeats of the previous experience, we asked around for recommendations...and whattaya know, most of them were for the place we can walk to!
Dan and I recently went for cleanings but the kids hadn't gone yet. Then I discovered that Griff's adult incisor is coming in behind a not-loose-enough-yet tooth, and told him that we'd need to talk to the dentist about his shark teeth. He was underwhelmed, to say the least, and was even less thrilled when I showed up by
myself after school to walk him to the dentist. He'd had advance
warning but a long school day and fear of the unknown took the emotional steering wheel. Wheeee! A
3-block walk and one very nice hygienist later, he was at ease. Jovial
Dr. Adams let him known that he needs to wiggle the dickens out of that
tooth so that we don't need to make another appointment to have it
removed. (Although for what it's worth, the first two teeth I lost
were pulled for the same reason - adult teeth coming in behind - plus
it was my first-ever trip to the dentist - and it wasn't at all
He left with a brand-new electric toothbrush, advice to make sure he's brushing twice a day to avoid plaque buildup, determination to wiggle that tooth, and a fluoride lollipop. I didn't even know they made fluoride lollipops. In case you're wondering, they don't suit adult palates. Ptoey. He was pleased as punch, though.
I forgot to mention in the Xander update: he surprised Dan and me last week by referring to both of us by our names. I didn't even know he knew who "Dan" and "Jess" are, but apparently he does. This morning he couldn't get my attention and started hollering "Jess! Jess! Help you!"
This shouldn't surprise me; Griffin calls Dan by name on a regular basis and occasionally does the same to me. I think it disturbs some of the more traditional Mr. & Mrs. types that we know (who, now that I think of it, are few and far between these days), but after the initial strangeness of it, neither of us minds. If the owner of the name isn't bothered, no problem.
Xander wants anything and everything his brothers have. Combine this with the emotional volatility of an almost-two-year-old and the result is something like the colossal meltdown we witnessed in a gelato shop last weekend when, fool parents that we are, we failed to realize that
Xander expected the same big cone that his brothers were enjoying. What?! You think I'm going to share spoonfuls out of your piffling cups? Idiot parents! What do you think I am, a baby? A few days later at another ice cream shop, the child ordered up a waffle cone and chocolate ice cream, no sprinkles. He knows what he wants, he makes his desires known, and he is crushed when he doesn't get what he wants.
Case in point:
This is the face of a baby whose beloved big brother just boarded the bus on the first day of school. Apparently Xan had expected to go to school, too, and crumpled when the bus pulled away.
"Ah wan ride bus, mommy. Mom, ah wan ride bus Griff."
Oh, poor guy! Back-to-school and back-to-work (for Dan, after over a week off) have been tough for him. I've been hearing a lot of "Where Daddy go?" and "Where Griff go?"
This kid has been shockingly communicative (well, shocking to me) since birth, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to me how much he can get across now...but it still does. He's speaking in sentences almost all the time! Most of them are about 3 words, but 5-6 words is pretty common, too. Holy cow.
He continues to be a charmer, greeting people everywhere we go and asking to visit friends. He's learning the words to songs - most recently the Happy Birthday song. He's learning to draw circles, to recognize colors (might have green and yellow, not sure), and identified a letter S on my shirt today out of the blue. He surprised me the other day by lining up blocks to make different kinds of shapes, a la mosaic tiles. He eats almost anything. His favorite books, hands-down, are about "George, Curious", and he now shares a bedtime routine with Reese: each picks one book, I read them both, then he gets down, kisses me, and trots off to Dan for a cuddle and tuck-in while I snuggle Reese. This is a kid who was definitely born into a family routine.
Physically he still seems tiny, and I wonder if he'll always be a bit of a pixie. He finally has all 20 baby teeth - the canines came in sometime over the summer.
Yet more influence of two older brothers - we hear a lot of this:
X: knock, knock
J: who's there?
J: poop, who?
X: ha, ha
The child doesn't even understand what makes a knock-knock joke funny, but he has the format down, and already appreciates poop humor! Goodness, I'm outnumbered. (Defensive disclaimer: not all his knock-knock jokes have poop punchlines - usually that line is something nonsense-y.) And as with nearly everything else he does, his jokes are paired with a mischievous gleam in the eye and a giggle. This is one fun kid.
Another first day of school! Today Reese had his first full day this year at Sabot and will be back full-time as of Monday. In a groundbreaking morning for our family, he was the only one of his brothers who was fully on-board with the day's plan (Xander is bummed not to ride the bus; Griff declared himself sick of school after 2 days) and got dressed right down to his new tennis shoes (no Crocs allowed) without a hitch. Here he is, ready to hop into the car with his backpack and lunchbox:
...oh, and brandishing his new stick "gun", too. Lovely. He was pointing it at a neighbor there and I had to suggest that perhaps she might not like being shot at by the neighbor kid. You know, the neighbor kid whose mother was photographing him pointing a weapon at people. Niiice. Have to admit, though, this stick makes a particularly awesome gun.
Back to school: he had a great day, building inside, having a picnic snack on the carpet, and visiting the forest. And apparently he taught his class the Witch Doctor song!
Flexibility is the name of the game now that he has turned the corner from three to four. While he's still our same old creature-comforts Reesie, he's increasingly able to go with the flow, looking forward to going to familiar places, handling new situations with more ease, and changing course and handling frustrations with much more grace. This is not to say that he has become a laid-back and ultra-compliant kid - I'm sure he'll retain his spirit for as long as he lives - but this summer marked a real shift for him in being able to go out and enjoy the world around himself.
Returning to Sabot has thrown a spotlight on the big changes that happened over the last three months: he has had a HUGE language boom, and a surge of confidence and independence. Last week his half-hour visit to his new classroom was probably the most fun date I've had with him, ever. He beamed as he headed straight down the path to his classroom, immediately greeted one of his teachers (Kara, who worked as a social coach in his classroom last year and who has a fantastic bond with Reese) and showed her a dead cicada he had brought, then went and engaged in several different classroom activities. No hesitation, just a total sense of knowing this place and being comfortable there. I noticed that he's interacting more with other kids, and with the materials in the classroom. Kara observed the big jump in language skills and she and I also discovered at the same time that he might be doing some addition - he showed me some magnifying glasses and said something about the five of them, and while I was trying to decide whether to correct him (I only saw three), he said "three here, and two over there. Five magnifying glasses." Huh. Didn't know you could do that, kid!
This afternoon he got a piece of cold pizza out for himself (putting away the box neatly, this is new) and when I asked if there were more, he told me there were three pieces. I got a piece for myself, then asked him: there were three pieces. Reese ate one, Mommy ate one, how many are left? He didn't miss a beat: "one." Nicely done! (No, he hadn't seen the inside of the box.)
Along with this new ability to manipulate numbers is some interest and skill in building. In the last few days he has built long winding railroad tracks and a block configuration he calls a "PacMan maze" after the style of the pathways in the arcade game that he loves to watch us play at New York Deli. This is a big change coming from a kid who has never really shown an interest in construction-type play. Interest in puzzles is starting to appear, interest in body systems, careful balancing of marble runs, and more elaborate pretend-play scenarios.
Reading might also be starting to click. This afternoon while reading a naptime story to Xander, Reese was following along the words with a finger and seems to have the idea of one written word representing one spoken word, even picking out a couple of the words for me when I asked him which word looked like "fuzzy" or "soft". No interest in writing yet, although maybe the sign-in sheet at school will help to encourage that. He does like to spell his name.
I noticed the other day that Reese asks questions in a way that Griff never has. Griff observes and draws conclusions; he connects data points. Reese generates questions, with each answer leading him to a new question. He wants specificity - exact names for things, exact answers to questions - and is quick to determine when facts given to him don't fit a particular situation, and to inquire about it.
The overall sense I get from Reese these days is one of emerging competence and control, and it's really fun to watch this process unfold.
Griff started first grade today! I had anticipated some new-class, new-year jitters but he has shown nothing but excitement for heading back to Munford. A couple of weeks ago we walked over to check out the class lists posted outside the office and to scope out his classroom (locked, of course, but nice to see where it is). We noticed that very few of his classmates from last year are in his new class, but there are a few familiar faces, including a new friend he made this summer, and he seemed quite content.
Meet the Teacher day was last Friday. Mrs. Mallory greeted Griff by name, gave him a hug, and handed him a checklist of things to find in the classroom. Highlights: big class library, a locker for storing his stuff, and a desk that faces his friend Mia's desk.
Griff has become a huge reader over the summer, got his first library card and has discovered the juvenile fiction shelves, and walks around the house with his face buried whatever book he's reading. It's awesome to watch this passion take hold. He was super-psyched to see the classroom library, well-stocked with Magic Treehouse books and others, and I think that was the one thing he was most looking forward to when he headed off on the bus this morning.
First-graders get homework totes, and when he returned home he told me he would no longer need his backpack because he'll use his tote every day. He also told me that Mrs. Mallory moved his cubby (each set of four lockers has four cubbies above it, assigned one per kid) because he couldn't reach his. Now he's reassigned to a reachable, lower cubby. That's my petite kiddo - he looks tall to me but he's still one of the shortest in the class.
I'm trying to get him onto a soccer team but missed the registration deadline (argh!), so he may have to wait until spring if they can't find space. He seems to roll with stuff like that even while growing moodier and defiant as he approaches age 7. This age is a funny mix, as he both loves to help out around the house (folds his own laundry voluntarily!) and also chafes when we impose limits like his awfully early 8pm bedtime.
I also think he's just on the verge of leaving "childish" little-kid things behind. While Reese picked a cute froggy ice pack for his lunchbox, Griff selected plain undecorated ones. He wants a grown-up umbrella like mine. His cutesie years are probably over, although for now, at least, he still loves cool light-up shoes and a note in his lunch from his mama.