Number 4

My dear Michael,

I have so many words — much like you — I cannot even think where to start. You don’t worry about starting; you wake up, and start talking, and you don’t stop unless you are pouting or asleep.

You would think I would get used to your chatter. It still surprises me, usually on a Saturday morning before I’ve had coffee.

You have thoughts. You have opinions. You have questions, although not as many as your big sister Flora. You want to have conversations. That’s exactly what you will say. “Can we have a conversation?” The other thing you say most often is, “Mommy, watch this.” And I really do have to get better about stopping and watching that. I vow to do better. After all, you are suddenly 4, and I am starting to realize all you children just keep getting older. Pretty soon, you won’t be asking me to stop and watch. So I better get it in now.

You like building toys (Lego and Duplo), cars, super heroes. You like to pretend. You like your sisters, and you get upset when they don’t want to play with you or share with you. You are able to play independently, you just don’t always want to. You are paying Kate back in karma points for all the times and ways she has harassed Flora. You like routine.

Your teachers at daycare LOVE you. We recently took a field trip with your preschool class to a pumpkin patch. As you sat for story time, I spoke with one of your teachers. “Michael is such a sweet boy,” she told me. “He’s polite and helpful. He’s such a nice little boy. Is he like that at home?”

No, I told her. No, he is not like that at home.

And you aren’t — you have temper tantrums, you fight with your sisters, you tell me I’m dumb. But not all the time. You are sweet, and helpful, and polite, too. But you aren’t afraid to be angry, or sad, or stubborn. You also give hugs and kisses, very often unprompted. You will throw your hands around my neck or climb up on the couch for impromptu cuddles.

I probably spoil you a little bit. I lay down in bed with you waiting for you to fall asleep. Some days, I ask the girls to *please* share and *please* play with you just so you won’t have a fit. Although, I am trying to get better at letting them have their space from you. But you are my last baby; thus, I baby you. I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

You won’t wear anything with buttons. You’re not the greatest eater, although it’s more out of distraction than dislike of food. When you are hungry and focused, you will demolish a meal and have seconds. You are agile and active without being hyper, although you do sometimes bounce off the walls.

You are hard to put into one word. But you are fun and funny, and you are sweet, and you are my boy.

Happy birthday, my boy. And many, many more.


The 4-year-old

Happy Birthday to Me!
Happy Birthday to Me!

24 Months

Michael! YOU’RE TWO!

What the heck?

I went back to last year’s birthday post for you, so I wouldn’t repeat myself too much in this year’s birthday letter.

Some things are worth repeating: You complete us. You are utterly delightful, laid back, easy going, charming.

You are funny.

Of course, you are growing into your own person. As a result, you have discovered what a “time out” is. You do well with time outs — they are in your room, on the glider, door closed — and when I come back to get you after two minutes, you are happy and smiling again. So, thus far, they are working. (Knock on wood.)

You have gone from one word to lots of words to short sentences. Usually these sentences are orders (“C’mere, mama.”) or questions (“What dis, mama?”).

And yes, you say mama. You say mama *a lot*.

I’m okay with it.

You are a pack animal. Oh my goodness, you get up with your sisters’ names on your tongue. “Foe-wa Kate? Foe-wa Kate?” You want to know where they are, what they are doing, why you aren’t there, and how fast you can be with them. If they have something, you want it too. Especially if it is a ‘staw’ (straw).

When the passel of children is on The Compound, you can be seen trailing diligently in their wake as they travel from yard to yard. You are not frustrated and you are not to be discouraged.

You know *everyone’s* name. Niece and nephews, all the grandparents, all the aunts and uncles, the contractor doing our bathroom, your daycare buds, your daycare caretakers, the guy who cuts our hair — you know them all, and can easily list them out without pause.

You are also keenly aware of ownership. Most of the time, you will authoritatively declare “Mine!” Other times, you will ask: “Mine?” And if it is not yours, the owner must be identified. “Mama’s cup?” “Foe-wa’s banket?” “Kate’s ball?” You are very interested in who belongs to what. Also, if they will share with you.

You have needed three haircuts since turning 1, and frankly, you are overdue for another. Why do boys always have the fastest growing hair?

You are strikingly agile. Last year at this time, you weren’t even walking all that much. Now you climb into and out of your high chair, you walk down stairs, you jump, you put blocks and puzzles together.

Last year at this time, you were prone to ear infections, like all of my children. This has changed, for the better, because of ear tubes. Again, let’s knock on some wood here.

You adore everyone. You are especially attached to your main pack (mama, daddy, Foe-wa, Kate), you want to check in on Bella and ‘Done often, you want to see Nonna and Pap-pap. But, even when you are initially shy, you are quick to charm.

You say, “Uh-huh yep.”
You say, “Ukay.”
You say, “Lub you.”

I love you, too, my precious baby boy. Happy birthday.


About Last Night

In case you caught bit and pieces of my Twitter stream last night (like my father did, on my blog — poor dad), let me fill in the blanks.

For amusing vacation anecdotes, please come back tomorrow.

Michael and I returned to Pittsburgh via the Cranberry exit of the turnpike, and were home by about 4 p.m. And locked out because Dan had the house key. Fortunately my in-laws were home, and we said our hellos and got our house key from them.

Dan and I traveled separately because we needed two cars for all our stuff. Well, the kids’ stuff really. Plus, you know, the kids. (It’s time for us to invest in a bigger vehicle.) Sunday after packing the car and having brunch with my parents, sister, and her family, Dan took the girls to visit a friend near Seven Springs, while M and I headed for home.

M napped about an hour in the car, and was, not surprisingly, cranky once we got home. He threw a fantastic tantrum, and I figured he was headed for an early bedtime. We had cheese and noodles for dinner — we need to go to shopping — and took a nice little walk.

Once we got back home, he played in the tub for a bit. Then he decided he wanted to get out as I was rinsing the shampoo out of his hair. As a result of his eagerness, the slippery tub, and my hands being full and wet, he slipped and smashed his chin on the edge of the tub.

I was terrified for a moment that he had hit his *teeth* — he went down hard. But it turned out he had just put a nice gash in his chin. I called my MIL because it looked to me like a trip to the hospital was in order. It wasn’t bleeding a lot, but it was… well, gaping. After the fall, he didn’t even cry that long, and he didn’t knock himself out. Once the first wailing stopped, he actually asked for ice, which I was more than happy to give to him.

My FIL drove us to the ER, where they were friendly and efficient. Instead of stitches, Michael got Dermabonded — basically superglue for your skin — and then got an orange popsicle.

As we left the ER, I said to M, “Let’s not come back here for a long, long time.” The male nurse who was assisting us said, “I have bad news for you. He’s a boy.” Seeing as M has already attempted to climb a tree, ride a scooter, and reach the monkey bars on our jungle gym, he may have a point.

On the way home, M happily babbled in the back seat, and once home, we snuggled, he had his bottle, the girls peered at his wound, and everyone (except the grown ups) went to bed. Not the best ending to a five-day vacation (which was really nice), but everyone is fine. A couple of days in our normal routine should get everyone back in equilibrium.

Do boys go to the emergency room more than girls? Or do they go to the ER for injuries more often than girls?