Sunday, September 25, 2016

Letter to (Five Year and Three Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

We've had a fun and eventful Summer. A few "small" things-- you and Annie both had successful weight checks (which is actually no small thing, no pun intended) and papa broke his collar bone. And of course, at long last, your much awaited SISTER BABY joined the family. We didn't have enough going on with our newborn and our broken collar bone, so we decided we'd start math with you. You're in kindergarten, Big Boy!

Graves, I'm going to be honest with you, the bulk of this letter is going to involve you and Sarah Lamar because you were/are just so smitten with her. The novelty still really hasn't worn off, but that first month it was just so all-consuming for you. But first a few things just about you:

Several times you've heard the song You Learn by Alanis Morissette on the radio and now you refer to it as "the naked song" because it contains the lyrics "I recommend walking around naked in your living room". I'm sure you'd recommend it too, if we'd give you the chance to try it!

Another funny thing was when I took you guys to the library at the eleventh hour and you were dressed as Batman and got offended when someone driving by complimented your "costume". Because that was clearly just your clothes. Otherwise why would you be wearing them on walking errands when it's four billion degrees on a cloudy day this Summer?

Papa came home super late one night (past midnight) and said he heard a loud and hearty (and somewhat villainous) HA.HA.HA! This was followed up by a back and forth between various action figures. You and Annie were still up and were waiting for him to come home from work and went to bed within two minutes of him tucking y'all in. So sweet! 

You and Annie (I call you guys the big kids all the time now and Papa heard me refer to ya'll as such and thought it was so cute and funny- it's interesting what will provoke a reaction from him) are so funny and when your sister is a tiny legalist and has anxiety about RULES, I guess that you play games with a bathroom door between you (I found y'all playing Guess Who with you outside the bathroom and her inside). And with a giant catnip rat in your arms....General went missing, and even though we aren't really pet people, I was pretty broken up about it :-/ Gratefully (and a bit surprisingly) you didn't take it too hard. With Sallie here, you really don't need a pet =)

Another day I found some plastic peas and a plastic turkey frozen in a tupperware container in the freezer. You guys are such weirdos. But y'all are weirdos who are becoming increasingly adept at getting your own food from the fridge and freezer. You win some, you loose some. I also found y'all pretending to freeze their action figures in "carbonite" Sometimes I worry I don't interact with y'all enough, but I love that you guys still don't know the word "bored" (perks of homeschooling) and are so creative when I give y'all space to be.

 NOW, onto you and Sal. Everyone, I mean everyone, tells me how much you two look alike. I sort of see it, but not like everybody else. I will say, the more I get to know her the more I wonder if she'll have your personality. She LOVES being around people and is very social and doesn't seem to want to be left alone for a minutes. Which is you made over. You two kind of drain me (physically, mentally, emotionally- in every sense) but if there's anything worth my energy being depleted, it's my babies =)

That said, she's a lot (a LOT) more chill than you were as a baby. You are absolutely my best buddy and you were a sweet, sweet baby but between your dairy intolerance, your caffeine intolerance, your high needs tendencies, your desire to be attached to us all the time and yet do EVERYTHING (nursing, the paci, potty training, ect.) YOUR way, your babyhood wore me out.
Papa and I were talking about how funny it would be if we had two really laid back babies who morphed into super intense, tightly wound (though incredibly amazing) bigger people (as Annie did) and one very high needs (though also amazing) baby who morphed into one of the most easy going people I know (as you did). I have absolutely no confidence in what James Dobson says about how you can tell their personalities at like six months.

 The day after she was born, as y'all were leaving the hospital you told Papa that you "missed da baby". Then when Papa offered y'all unlimited screen time because he was so tired and really hadn't had a chance to recover from the night before you said said "well, you know what's funnner than lots of TV? That baby!". You also wanted to know if you could PLEASE take her home that day and Mickey asked the same thing. Between you and Mick, I could already tell Sister Baby was going to be ROTTEN.

Speaking of Mickey, he took a picture of you and Sarah Lamar (one of the first of a few million of y'all I'm well on the way to having) and told me "this might be the best picture I've ever taken". It just might have been.

 You are such a sweet, sweet big brother. Awhile back, I was changing Sallie's diaper and you were stroking her cheeks and rubbing your hair across her face and telling her "shhh, it won't be much longer" (as you do every time I change it) and I had to go grab something. You apparently had to leave for a minute too but got back before me and when I got back I heard you saying "it's okay, Sweetie, I'm right here". You also have a few nicknames for her to add to the ever growing list (I feel like that's such a third child thing to have a billion nicknames)-- "Scooter" and "Babes". She is loved beyond what my mind can comprehend.

Around the time she was about two or three weeks old you told me that Graves said the week before it was "very rare" for her to open her eyes but that it wasn't anymore and you were exactly right. It's so interesting to me how perceptive you are about things like that! You also told me that her hair feels like velvet and I cried because it totally does but it won't always. We LOVE babies so much, me and you. 

You call nursing "sips" (e.g. "Sallie is fussing, Momma. I think she's hungry and needs some sips."). [Sidenote: You are such an empath and so attentive to the needs of others.] I think it's such a sweet, innocent, and cute way to describe it. You're also very fascinated by how it's both her food and beverage. I was actually a little nervous about this with you- you notice body parts and things like that a LOT more than Annie (on the subway for example) and Papa even asked me when I was pregnant if I would want to put a blanket over her or nurse in a different room. That is SO unlike Papa, who is not very modest and who is quick to talk about modesty being a cultural thing and how different people have differing levels of comfort/ideas of what's appropriate. And it seemed SO dumb to me to hide it from a five year old member of our immediate family, regardless of gender or personality. I made every effort to normalize it and !shocker! you seem to find it totally normal. But I did wonder if you'd be all up in my space. Actually, you often are, but just to pat and kiss his sister like every other moment of the day.

You also started carrying Sarah Lamar across the house (with a spotter) when she was about five days old. You told us "Look, I can support her neck."

That said, your number one girl hasn't changed. The other day you were ranking who you loved the most. You said you loved Mickey but not as much as Baby Sallie. And then you said you loved her but not as much as Annie. I hope you never struggle with being the middle child or the only boy. You sisters are EVERYTHING to you and you serve them so often and so well.

I told Annie this is a recent letter and I want to tell you, too. A friend mentioned to me recently how the physical work of motherhood gets easier as small people get bigger but the emotional work is ever often ever more difficult. That's been so true to my experience. I always, always say the most exhausting part of parenting is the emotional resources it requires. And (barring this nutso post partum period) that burden doesn't seem to get any lighter. 

I love, love, love tiny babies. But this part is beautiful too, I have to keep reminding myself how much I enjoy you and Annie so I won't be sad about Sallie growing up. And when Sarah Lamar is five and like you, washing her own fruit I'll be thirty eight and maybe I won't even have any desire to be up in the middle of the night providing meals to a tiny nursing person. I'm very grateful for all the physical things you and Annie are able to accomplish on your own and how big and strong ya'll are becoming.

But more than that, I'm grateful for the ways I get to watch your mind and heart grow. 

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your shorts are a 3T and your Star Wars t-shirt is a 5, I think.

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