Monday, March 28, 2016

Letter to (Four Year and Ten Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

As I was writing this it occured to me (as it often does) that you are truly one of the kindest, funniest people I know. Sometimes I get so impatient with you, but I really could not love you more. You are the best little fella.

We had a fun second half of January and beginning of February.  You've been playing blastball (like soccer for really little kids) but it's not really your thing. Papa and you and Annie were out practicing awhile back and you just started climbing a tree and told them "I'll get the ball if it comes to the tree." We also watched Inside Out, and while I think Annie connected more with it, you LOVED the characters and took away more from it than I realized you would.

 The big thing, though, was finding out that our new baby is a girl. To be honest, that day wasn't an easy one for any of us really, but most of all for you. You had a really hard time and got so sad when you found out- you just buried your head in Papa's chest. I think partly because you truly wanted a brother badly but I think partly because you just very much expected this to be a boy. I KNEW you will love "your baby" regardless because your love for big sister is one of the deepest loves I've witnessed in my life. That said, I got teary in the car myself, just so sad over your disappointment. I'd gone back and forth over which I wanted but I hadI really been hoping for another girl for some reason (probably mostly shallow ones) but really thought it was a boy. I was excited but it was a little bittersweet with your reaction. As an aside: I am SO grateful we had the wisdom not to do this to you in the delivery room.

Later I figured out that this runs deeper than just wanting a boy because you're a boy. After some discussions, I realized that girls sort of intimidate you. You're wild but you're also VERY sensitive and most of the little boys we know have less dominant personalities than the little girls we know and it's clear you're less threatened. Annie reminded you that "your baby" will be very young and you responded "well, she WILL grow up". Navigating your personality is interesting because it's very different from mine, Papa's, and Annie's. It's also made me aware that I need to focus on how to validate your feelings while helping you not to feel like a victim or like other children (or adults!) with a different personality are being "mean" to you.  

For example, like I said you're a spitfire but you're so sensitive, too. At the playground one day you ran over and buried your head in my jacket because some big kids laughed at you for not playing on the playground equipment "the right way". Um, there's no right way. You do you, Bud.

I said in this letter's opening that you are are the best little fella and I'm truthfully a little glad that I can, at least for now, keep on saying that. I'm sure I would have loved another son, but I love you filling that special role of being our only little boy. 

That said, I would kind of love it if she has "chicken hair" like you did that sticks straight up. I ran across an old picture and I got a little lump in my throat.

Another big thing that I haven't mentioned yet is that Papa finally told you and Annie about the changes in his faith (he's unsure if God is real and doesn't identify as a Christian anymore). The other night at Mickey and Minnie's you kept insisting everyone pray before dinner. It was a great opportunity to talk to you about not pressuring people to do something they don't want to do/are uncomfortable with and I'm so glad I was in a frame of mind where I didn't just start sobbing. I also reminded you that I NEVER force you or Annie to pray when y'all don't want to. It went well overall and I am trusting God to use this all for good in all our lives, but navigating this is difficult and exhausting to say the least.

You are so sweet and funny, as I said. Awhile back you saw this picture of me and Papa from the Summer. It was from a date we had gone on and I had really short hair and it was up in some kind of wrap. You said "I want y'all to look like that again". I said "oh, do you think we were pretty cute?" and you said "cutest day ever".

Annie has such an acute sense of smell and most things that are different really bother her (like the brisket I was cooking all day a few weeks ago, which is pretty much the best smell in the world). You have a pretty good sense of smell too but most things don't bother you much (sort of the case with y'alls personalities in general). Anyway, you developed a MAJOR aversion to the smell of Cheerios, of all things. Annie loves them and recently I've started letting you sit on the floor all the way across the kitchen because it upsets you so much (you've almost cried about it). Then the other day on the way to church y'all were sharing a water bottle and you took a sip and swallowed and then made this funny sound you make when you taste something awful. Like sort of spitting/gagging. And you go "Ahhh! That tasted like a CHEERIO smells!".

Witnessing yyour relationship with Annie continues to be one of the great joys of my life. You were all over the place during y'alls joint "morning school" time and Annie finally took it into her own hands and tried to distract you by telling you "there's some really amazing carrion over there". She's also started calling you an Irratator, which was apparently a type of meat eating dinosaur.

She is certainly not baby obsessed likeyou but she is such a caregiver in a different way. She had a bit of a sore throat one night and she said "maybe someone could boil me some tea while I read to Graves and try to get him to sleep". Then she told me about a conversation she had with you in which she reminded you that y'all "have all of naptime" to play in your room and suggested she just read to you at night.  

One day I had been really upset with you and I asked you  if you knew how much I loved you and you said "eighty five??" I told you more than that, more than "a hundred thousand" (your favorite number and an expression you love to use about anything that merits its greatness in your mind). 

And I do. I love you more than any number in the world. I'm so thankful for you and the ways you teach me and make me laugh.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your monster shirt is a 4T and your shark shorts are a 3T. You are also- clearly- obsessed with light sabers.

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