Saturday, June 27, 2015

Letter to (Four Year and One Month Old) Graves

Dear Graves,

As with Annie's letter, I have so much to catch you up on! Papa writes y'all a yearly letter, but I like to include more details so I'm recapping two months. The last six weeks in Brooklyn and the first couple back in Mississippi. 

We had some great adventures right before moving back. Near the top of the list, I think were making HUGE bubbles at the New York Hall of Science (bubbles are your favorite, still) and seeing a real live "Crocodila" at the Bronx Zoo. 

I think your absolute favorite thing, though, was when Cookie and Conrad visited. Right before they got to our apartment the day they were arriving you go so nervous and were talking ninety miles a minutes. You could not contain your excitement and you told me that Cookie MIGHT have a tail like a mermaid and you asked if she'd be wearing her wedding dress. You literally did not stop talking, except to sleep, the entire time they were there. 

You also enjoyed our more low key days, though. You and AP made cookies with Papa on several really cold days that were technically part of Spring, but felt nothing like it. Papa also helped y'all make your own volcano out of play dough and make it erupt. That was fun because you had gotten really fascinated by a temporary natural disaster at the Museum of Natural History. And we introduced you to Shel Silverstein. I think it's been your favorite reading experience so far. It's just enough silliness and boogers and potty humor to be perfect for a four year old boy and I still find it enjoyable myself.

Also, speaking of Papa, he's no Miss Mandy, but he put the Russian barber TO SHAME with his skillz. Noway was I risking a trip to a barber up here this late in the game, but you literally had a mullet.

Now some more about you personally...

You crack me up. It's always fun when kids mimic spousal dialogue, but the best yet may have been the night you looked at AP and go "You doing okay, Sweetheart?"

One night I called you Darlin'" and you said "Hey, wait a minute, you're not Minnie!"

Another day at lunch you said "Annie, take deep breaf-ez (breaths). You need to calm down, stop laughing, and eat lunch". The height of irony right there! 

One night we were discussing the possibility of having another baby and Annie was saying she did not want it to be a sister because she did not want to share her clothes (that she had already outgrown). You told AP "You know Minnie gave me those dinosaurs we have. ALL of the dinosaurs. And I shared the plant eaters with you. ALL of the plant eaters. You should share your clothes with our new baby". It was one of the most coherent and well formulated sequence of thoughts we've ever heard you share. *VERY IMPORTANT sidenote: a new sibling is entirely hypothetical at this point 

Oh, I hope you have a STRONG moral compass when you get bigger. You're such a charmer and such a flirt. You were sitting in my lap (facing me) one afternoon and you grinned at me and go "Come to Gravesy" and then gave me the hugest hug ever. Oh my!

You've gotten a lot more independent just in the last few months. One morning I woke up congested and with a headache and sinus nausea. I knew wearing you in the carrier would pull on my reserves and just make me feel worse and more exhausted. Plus I had just told someone that it's less about my fears now and more about how it's just frustrating because you want to smell every rose (or pick up every rock and stick) in Brooklyn. Anyway, we gave it a shot. Three trains into and out of Gramercy and you did GREAT. I don't give you enough credit. Someone on the train let you play with a toy and you even gave it back right away, the first time I asked you to. 

You are a man who loves the liturgy, but your church speak still shocks me at times. You were talking to me this morning about how Jesus died on the cross. I asked you if you remembered why He died and you said "to atone for our sins" in your sweet baby voice. And then you said "And after that, he rose again to DEFEAT DEATH". I may not sound like much, and I know you don't understand nearly the full extent of the Gospel, but it brings me so much joy to hear you articulate these truths. Especially since you're the type of four year old boy who can hardly articulate what he would like to eat for lunch.

It's very interesting to watch your faith develop. One night you thanked God for Smashburger but then sad "Not thank Him for walking, though". We didn't bring the carrier or stroller today (we were mostly on transit anyway) and you did great, but you tripped on the way home and skinned your knee through your jeans. It wasn't bad at all, just scrapped and a TINY bit of blood. You actually recovered really quickly, but then when we got home and you looked at it, you got upset all over again. Anyway, I said "Oh Bud! Don't say that. God gave you great healthy legs for walking". And you just pointed to your knee and shook your head. I said "The Lord will take care of you and it will be better really soon. It will heal don't worry". And you go "I WANT HIM TO HEAL ME *NOW*". Who says boys can't be dramatic?

By the way. Look. Next time I hear someone telling a mother of (only) boys that you are "sorry" (even if it's in in jest) I may come out with my dukes up. I understand that they are loud and rowdy, that they stink, that they think that their own boogers are awesome and their own penises are even more impressive, that they are constantly making things dirty or broken or otherwise unusable, and that they think all of the above are hilarious. My field experience (and despite not having a brother of my own, I've had a good bit over the years) says most all of this only gets worse with age. But I get defensive with comments like that because of my own little boy. You break my heart with how sweet you are. You make me laugh life nobody else. You've taught me so much about patience and grace and letting go of being in control. I'm grateful for your sister in equal measure, of course, but boys are such special beasts.
And as an aside, while it's a whole other set of issues, girls ain't always easy, either. Just FYI.

More about your little faith journey- you remember when we used to tease you and call you Brother Graves? At this rate, I think we're going to have Father Graves before it's over. You told the priest at a church we visited shortly after moving home "Thank you. That service was GREAT" and shook his hand. It  was a good bit more high church than the service we typically attended in Manhattan (my friend who is a member prepared me beforehand) and I think you loved it- that's just part of how you already encounters God (you're super kinesthetic). You did sass me a bit when I told you to turn down the volume and said I "wasn't letting you worship!!!!". Of course I told you there were more respectful ways to talk to me, but if Imma get sassed while solo parenting at an unfamiliar church on Mother's Day, at least sass me about interfering with your worship.

I shared these last thoughts in AP's letter, but they are some of the most important things. Sometimes, I have so many "Share, dammit!" moments, I forget why I'm even trying to teach y'all what I'm trying to teach you guys. Which, most importantly in this case, is thinking of others before yourselves. Our last few weeks in BK, with such a limited amount of "stuff", I saw very clearly that my muddled efforts haven't been in vain. One sweet example: you won a little prize at Coney Island and when you  got to pick it out you immediately picked a pink stuffed fish and thrust it into Annie's hand. We asked you about it and he told us he knew pink was HER favorite color and "we share things". You two are; like all children; very, very far from being perfect. But y'all are amazing humans and it's a priviledge to know and love you.

I had a sort of tough day with the kids one day before we moved (moving is no joke, moving without Mick and Minnie is ROUGH). I overheard Annie telling you "You know no matter what you do, Momma will NEVER ever stop loving you. I mean, she will NEVER." I was simultaneously so happy that she knows that and so sad that she felt like she needed to tell it to you that. But I hope that is something you carry within your heart forever. Forever forever. 

Lastly, I wanted to tell you about the LONG trip home. You and Annie were FANTASTIC. Y'all fifteen(!!!) hours in the car the first day and about seven the second without any movies (because dumb momma was dumb and shipped them all ahead to Mississippi), limited snacks when we were actually driving (because we were in a rental), and a pretty small amount of toys (because we purposely didn't keep much in BK when we shipped our other stuff). There was very little fussing and complaining and shockingly we didn't hear much from the kitties either. You guys are so much more flexible than I was as a little girl. Honestly, you're often more flexible than I am at almost thirty. I'd love to take credit for parenting practices that encourage this, but more than that I think it's your sweet spirits and God's good grace. 

Once we moved home, we set up camp for you two little adventurers in our closet and we all lived mostly in the master bedroom (and at the grandparents' and in the backyard, let's be honest). Again, I was so proud of how y'all roll with the punches! 

It's been a wonderful couple of months and I am so proud of you, sweet guy.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your shorts are a 4T and your literature tee is a 4/5. 

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