Having told you about the person Grey is at six, I thought I’d enlighten you on Thane at three. First, the physical. Thane is 39 1/2 inches tall (3 feet and 3.5 inches) and 35 pounds. By my admittedly unprofessional analysis, that makes him 95th percentile for height and about 75th percentile for weight. He has glorious golden curls, which are currently way too long and have gotten California-surfer-boy unkempt. The angelic aspect of his curls and features is much moderated by the fact his face is never, ever clean. It takes about 20 seconds between washing his face and having it somehow, miraculously get dirty. Thane is a sturdy child. Currently one of Thane and Grey’s favorite games involves Grey wearing a blanket and making ominous “boo” noises while chasing Thane around the house. Oh! The thumping and squealing! Thane is actually a bit stronger than you really want in a just-turned-three-year-old
Thane subsists on a diet of entirely protein. He loves, cheese, meat, bacon, butter and yogurt. He disdains not only vegetables, but most carbohydrates too, making me wonder if he really is my son. He magnanimously makes exceptions for processed sugar, of course. In fairness, he also like applesauce and bananas. You probably don’t care about how food emerges from the other end, but I’m happy to report that Thane is 80% potty trained. He goes whole days dry (including naps!). He’s finally crossed the wonderous #2 bridge. If my memory serves, he’s way ahead of where his brother was. I think it is plausible that I will never buy another diaper for my children. (Nighttime pullups being an entirely different category, of course.)
You intellectually know, before you have children, that they are different from each other. This is very different from actually having children who are different from each other. I think this makes it harder for me to notice, or believe, some things that are true about Thane. One of the key attributes of Thane is his sequential obsessions. They started, I think, with cars. Following cars were stickers. Then we went to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were replaced by puzzles (my favorite – he spent long periods quiet and was a puzzle-savant doing 60 piece puzzles at two and a half years old). Puzzles promptly fell out of favor, to be replaced by Scooby Doo. I sense Scooby Doo is waning, but have no idea what will replace it – awkward timing what with the birthday and Christmas buying spree forthcoming. It’s also awkward because other people pay attention to what he likes (oh, he loves puzzles!) and get them for him. Of course, he’s moved on. I have no idea what to recommend for Christmas.
One of the things everyone comments on about Thane is his verbal ability. Thane speaks clearly, with complicated sentences and wide vocabulary. What people do not understand about this is that Thane is so verbal because he practices. All. The. Time. And he doesn’t practice listening, he practices talking. In fact, his listening is so questionable, that I even had his hearing checked. (It was fine.) It is really fun to listen to him talk, or tell a story.
Thane loves books. One of his favorites is Anansi the Spider. He also adores these awful Scooby Doo books which he checks out of the library every single Library & Pizza night and insist that that’s what I must read to him. Since my rule is that I read whatever Thane wants on library pizza night, I’ve had ample opportunity to work on my Shaggy voice.
My littlest boy likes to sing, and talks a lot about music. He has a pretty nice voice for a preschooler. He also likes “playing piano”. He often demands songs he knows doesn’t exist, “Sing the Anansi song!” But at night he always asks for “Star of the County Down”. He has a good memory, and knows all the words to lots of songs. He also remembers all the words to prayers. Listening to his rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is very sweet.
There are so many things that make a Thane. He still loves his Puppy (who is a bunny rabbit). He loves his pink Dora sunglasses. He tries to shape reality with his words, “I AM seven years old!” or “It IS Monday!” He snuggles with us every morning at exactly 6:45. He wants to do whatever his brother is doing. He contains multitudes of words. He is a joy and a delight.
When you’re not making a post a day, you don’t feel like you can just update folks on the last 20 minutes of your life (not that I, uh, ever do that…) but you don’t feel really ready to tackle the last 20 days, either. It’s been a definite withdrawal for me to have so much less computer time, and even more importantly very little computer time with both my hands free. Writing a post with one hand is time consuming. (An element to my prolific writing is doubtless the 80 wpm I type. You can say more in less time when you type quickly.)
Let’s see. The defining element of my last few days has been OMG SO MANY GUESTS. Last weekend was a wonderful Mocksgiving. Then on Thursday my beloved Aunt and Uncle arrived in Boston for a big Bible conference thingy, and they stayed the night. This would be the Aunt who can cook amazingly, so of course I felt the need to prepare a decent meal. And of course all my free time was spent chatting with them, attempting to catch up on the last 7 years in one evening. Then last night my brother Gospel came. (I asked why he got off for Thanksgiving break so early. He reminded me that there happened to be a big Bible conference thingy going on and he was at seminary. Huh. Go figure.) Granted, Gospel is much more helpful than guestful. He even raked our lawn this afternoon in the bitter, bitter cold! But still… he’s here much of the week and my Aunt and Uncle reemerge from their conference on Monday night (another dinner). I don’t have much spare time, and that’s taken up what I have. Still, it’s entirely worthwhile.
It got cold here in New England. I’m not a fan of this. I feel like I can’t walk nearly as far; not because Grey can’t handle it but because it’s hard to properly bundle a wee baby. I’m also still struggling with walking with both boys. Problem one is that I have much less recourse if Grey decides to be recalcitrant, which definitely happens with a 3 year old. If I carry Thane in a sling, it’s just too much to also carry the diaper bag and with a potty training preschooler, that’s dangerous. (I can carry one or two baby diapers in the sling, but the diapers and a change of pants for Grey… well, that seems like a bit much.) I don’t like strollers, but I tried that and I discovered that it’s really hard to steer with one hand, making it hard to hold Grey’s hand when we cross streets, etc. And here’s the kicker — I can just about manage Grey and the stroller, but the coffee is too much. (Heck it’s also an extra hand I lack getting into the car.) Parenting is threatening my coffee supply. This is dire, people.
In boy news, Thane has already lost the newborn look and started in on the young baby look. His neck is unbelievably strong — he now holds it steady for quite a while. He still swims in his 0 – 3 month outfits, but has outgrown newborn diapers. I had actually remembered this, how in the course of a day a diaper size goes from ok to way too small. And if you try to make do with the too small diapers to use up the rest of them, you find yourself changing a lot of outfits. Thane really, really likes to be held and wants to be held almost all day. This seems entirely appropriate for a new baby, but it a bit hard to manage sometimes. When he’s feeling fussy, he really likes to be on his belly. In the big Thane-news, he rolled over twice this week. Both times it was from front to back, but still. Rolling over at 3 weeks? I would be more excited about this if I didn’t realize that physically precocious children are a lot of work.
Grey is wonderful. He has been telling us stories lately. “Once upon a time there was a boy named Grey.” He will do nearly anything if you apply pretend reverse psychology. “Grey, I do not want you peeing in that potty!” On the one hand, it’s nice to have something that works so reliably. On the other hand, I’m worried that I’m making trouble for myself. I try to use a very silly voice when I do this, but perhaps it’s not smart of us. Speaking of peeing in the potty training, it’s going slowly. The length of time between when he goes seems to have lengthened, but he still won’t initiate going to the potty and it’s often like pulling teeth to get him to go. I confess to feeling disheartened. On the other hand, he’s been wonderfully affectionate and cuddly with the cold weather. He has grown increasingly sensitive to the emotions of others. “Mommy, are you sad, happy or angry?” he’ll ask. What he’s really asking is “Am I all right with you?” He is also attuned to his brother’s emotions. He’ll come find me if Thane is crying. Sometimes he tries to make faces to cheer up the weeping babe. Sometimes, annoyed, he’ll tell Thane to “Be quiet!” In the amusing anecdote department, Grey calls letters emails. I wonder if they’ll still have letters when he’s my age. Generally, though, he’s been pretty fantastic.
I feel like I should give you a blow-by-blow of what it’s like to be a new parent. I mean, it is the time in your child’s life when they change the most. Already, 13 days later, Thane looks different and acts different and is different. Every moment you’re profoundly aware that he will never be this small again. This is also true for Grey, but the rate of change slows down astronomically. Grey is largely the same next week as he was last week with eensy incremental change. Thane uncurls and opens like a flower in the morning sun, so fast you can almost watch it.
But the truth of the matter is… Thane is an easy baby. When you feed him, he eats happily. He looks around at his world with deep dark blue eyes, so full of mystery that they conceal even their final color. When he is held, he snuggles into you. When he is laid in his crib, he makes a sequence of truly hilarious sounds and eventually sleeps. When he poops he makes the funniest of faces. In short, he is a good baby. There are only so many variations on good baby.
Grey is being FANTASTIC when you focus on him and give him all your attention and love. He’s also great as long as you don’t look at him or ask him to do anything. He is also on a hunger strike. (Every night for the last 3 he has refused to eat a single bite of dinner. He is refusing all snacks that are not complete junk food. I keep reminding myself that children do not starve themselves, at least in the long run.) Moreover, he’s sleep deprived. With the time change, we’re putting him to bed an hour earlier and he’s waking up the same time. But oh, is he a fun kid!
My husband went back to work today. Sniff sniff. My inlaws fly out tomorrow. Fortunately, I think my husband may work from home Weds. (helps in the “watch the sleeping baby” way), and is taking Friday off. So this week will be more a trial by brazier than trial by fire. That will be next week!
Grey turns three today, whether he knows it or not. I think he must know it — he celebrated by throwing up in the car this morning. (One of the challenges of being a parent to a child with a touchy stomach is that it’s very difficult to figure out when they’re really sick and need to stay home vs. when they are just throwing up because, you know, it’s fun and different!)
So what does it mean that Grey’s three?
Grey long ago passed the easy-to-capture milestones and firsts. After that, it’s all an element of degrees.
Verbally, Grey can usually make himself understood to people who are not related to him, depending on the subject matter. He’s started telling long and involved stories. They usually involve bad guys, hitting, explosions, Spiderman (red vs. black), fighting, and time-outs. He knows his days of the week, except Thursday which seems to give him problems. He can count up to forty and has known his alphabet for several years at this point. He knows all his basic colors and shapes. He can sound out words, and can probably identify ten or twelve when they’re written. He has a relatively extensive and sometimes surprising vocabulary. Ice cream is “delectable” (WHERE did that one come from?). He’s not angry or mad, no, he’s frustrated. And just yesterday we learned he knew a word that got him a three minute time out. Hint: it’s the same one that the kid in “A Christmas Story” used that ended up having him have his mouth washed out with soap. “To be” verbs still seem to be on the optional list and he mixes up cold and hot, but if you know the context for what Grey’s talking about, almost everything else is comprehensible. Grey does seem to have a bit of trouble with initial “S” sounds followed by a consonant. So “snake” often ends up as “nake”.
He spends a lot of time on days of the week, locations and people. Often the first thing he’ll ask me in the morning is what day it is and what happens that day. Is it a daycare day or a church day? Is anyone coming over for dinner? He knows the routes to all the places we go regularly — the chiropractor’s office, church, daycare, dance classes, the “Y”…. even the Starbucks near church. He knows the exit numbers for many of them, thereby putting him ahead of me. He has strong preferences on which route we should take. He talks a lot about those absent, especially the fellow inmates of Camp Gramp. The other day he jokingly introduced himself as his cousin, who has a rather difficult to pronounce three syllable name. He loves a little picture book I have for him with pictures of people he knows — he likes to go through and name everyone and talk about what they’re doing.
He tends to introduce himself by spelling, instead of saying, his name. “I G-R-E-Y.” I think this is because, given his unusual nickname, when I introduce him I usually end up spelling his name to make it clear that he is NOT “Greg”. Grey also loves letters and knows what they signify and I think he appreciates the letters in his name more than the name itself. I’m not quite sure if he knows that “grey” is also a color.
Grey can even write his name, after a fashion. The “G” is pretty good. The “R” is a circle with two spokes coming out of it. For “E” he’ll make the vertical bar and then add sufficient lines coming off it to fill up the bar. (Sort of looks like a caterpillar — the “E” is definitely my favorite.) The “Y” is three vertical lines that do not touch. These may or may not be written in the same orientation with each other. His fine motor skills — the skills for writing — are among his most advanced I think. He’s perfectly capable of unscrewing and rescrewing the lid to his toothpaste. He spends a lot of time practicing writing and drawing. He likes to draw people. He’ll carefully look at them and make sure he includes all the relevant elements, like earrings and hair. He can use a mouse better than lots of grownups I’ve met — to our chagrin. He can totally close out the software we have him using and pull up something more interesting, like the C drive. I’m very intentionally NOT teaching him how to use a screwdriver.
As far as large motor skills go, Grey is completely and utterly fearless. He climbs, jumps, crawls, leaps, runs and can even do a very good somersault. He’s pretty tall — he can and will reach the top of our kitchen counters. He’s also a fearfully good tool-using mammal. He pushes over chairs, toys or other things to stand on if what he desires is out of his reach. Grey is really fast. Right now he can run faster than I can. (Then again, several kinds of sloth can currently run faster than I can.) He also has endurance. He can and will walk for up to two miles, if correctly motivated. Motivation often involves daddy claiming that he will get to the goal before Grey can.
Grey likes to spend his free time as a kitty cat. Or spiderman. Or possibly as an angry robot. He will sometimes say “Aye aye captain!” in the most charming manner.
Socially, it’s very difficult to figure out where a three year old is. He sometimes plays nicely with other children, although just as often he’s playing around them instead of with them. He likes chasing games. He’s unafraid of large groups and pretty much never pulls the “wallflower” act. No no, he’s in the middle of the action, wherever the action is. He talks about his friends a good deal. He has some of his manners down (he’s pretty good about please, thank you and excuse me), but others are lacking. He hasn’t figured out how to introduce himself to someone who doesn’t know him. But he’s extraordinarily outgoing and friendly. He pitched a major fit the other day because he didn’t have a hand free to wave “thank you” to a motorist who had stopped for us to cross the street. He often says “hello” to people who are definitely not expecting it — including our next door neighbor. (He likes to say hello out the window in our kitchen.) He hasn’t quite figured out that sometimes people can’t hear him, or simply do not expect to be greeted (see also: surly looking teenagers). I personally love this about him. He reminds me to be more friendly myself. I think he’s a normal extrovert for his age.
Behaviorally, he’s also pretty typical I think. He vacillates between affectionate, “I love you very very much, mommy!” and violent. There’s definitely been a decrease in hitting, pinching and kicking (and biting has more or less disappeared altogether), but it still happens sometimes. Most of the time he behaves in an appropriate middle ground. Actually, I’ve been really quite pleased with his behavior lately. He’s doing a good job of listening and following the rules, even when he doesn’t want to.
He has a charming wheedle, where he will say “please” in the super-sweet voice when thwarted and then promise you something. Promises might include being your friend, letting you play with his toys, or giving you candy. I sometimes relent when he is super-polite like this, because I’d rather have the polite negotiating behavior than the violent lashing out that we had before. Sometimes, when you ask really really nicely, a no DOES turn to a yes! Yesterday, he promised his father and I that he would not open the package of candy that he was holding, and he didn’t!
Sleep is going better. He’s rarely waking up during the night anymore. He usually sleeps in until about 7ish, which is just fine by our schedule. Going to sleep has even improved with the advent of a rule that any time he opens the door, unless there’s ACTUALLY a poopy diaper involved, he loses one of his night lights. This gives him a stake in the game, and there are nights where we don’t have to answer any of his questions after the initial light’s out. (If there’s a bit of thumping from his room after he’s supposed to be in bed, well, as long as he’s staying in his room and not calling for us, it’s ignored.)
Grey eats as well as you can expect from a preschooler. He likes sweets better than dinner, of course. But he really like fruit and eats quite a lot of it. He’s gotten used to milk and water being the standard drinks and juice and chocolate milk being a treat. He will often eat the meal put before him.
Regarding potty training? There’s no doubt that Grey has all the skills necessary to be trained. What he doesn’t have is parents who are in a position to put in the focus and attention. He also lacks motivation. (So do we!) I plan on potty training him sort of whole-hog during my maternity leave. Wish me luck with that.
To sum up? Grey is a joy, a delight and a fun kid to have around.