today, you are 19 months old and 3 5/6 years old, respectively. omg you are old. but, oh no: already nostalgia is setting in; every time anybody reads this, we will only remember how young you were now. and then we’ll get all wistful for you in this april 2012 moment.
and that statement above is the fundamental tension of parenthood (and life as a conscious being, really): making sense of and peace with the eternal, tenuous present tense. you either try to ride it with grace–ever mindful of where you are and who you’re with–or you fight hard against it: you cling too tightly to passing moments, or you deny that the moments are passing at all.
a wise woman once told me this: the struggle is not worth your life. my darling kiddos, remember this. do not fight time. honor it.
you will still fight time. when you feel the fight, put it down. let it go. over and over. put it down.
ahem, anyway. i know that my unsolicited advice’s relevance is still a long way off for both of you. your lives are one long now. you are fiercely present in every moment of your days. and jude? you start each day with such hope and expectation: where are we going today? who is coming over? what will we do? what will we watch? what will we play? are we going now?
zig, you let jude do the talking, but these are your questions too. and when we answer them to your liking, you enthusiastically yell yayayayayayayay, and run for the door, ready for adventure. if there were one word to describe you at this age, it would be just that: READY. you’ve got a growing arsenal of words and signs, and you’re working hard to string them together to effectively communicate. you are a three-year-old in a nearly two-year-old’s body. you eat what your sister eats, you sit like a big kid at the table, you swing on the big kid swings, you hang on the dome climber, you wear crocs. if your moms treat you slightly different than your sister, you lose your shit, and throw yourself down on the ground in a screaming, writhing, arched-back heap. balance is quickly restored for you, however, the moment we resume treating you like a proper kid.
you delight in trucks and dinosaurs and trains and baby dolls and the softest stuffed animals. it is not uncommon for you to go to bed with your beloved elmo stuffy and a plastic t-rex. and you love bed time, which is a relief, since i am the one who puts you to bed. every night, i give you a last minute snuggle, and you bury your face in my neck. your body relaxes into mine;sometimes i slide you into a proper cradle-hold, and watch you drift off to sleep. but most night, i simply plop you down into bed, and still, you kiss my hand goodnight as i sign ‘i love you’–a holdover from your biting days, when i was afraid to try to kiss you at all. night night you say, and wave dreamily, just before rolling over onto your belly, elmo and dino under each arm.
much like your sister at this age, you call me daddy. also, you call me annie sometimes. you can’t quite get your mouth around “mommy” yet, but that’s just around the corner. “mama”, however, is one of your favorite words, and it’s usually said in all caps, exclamation point.
you continue to adore your sister, and refuse to give her any personal space. already, the “don’t touch me” wars have begun. it’s a war no one will win, fyi.
jude, for the most part, you handle the thankless role of “big sister” with dignity, grace, and a bit of resignation to your lot. you are your brother’s advocate, translator, and tattler. you still pet him and coo at him when he is being adorable, and you imitate his behaviors when you feel that they will afford you some extra attention.
the two of you spend most of your days running laps around our house, screaming like banshees, and dancing. oh, the family dancing. it currently entails a lot of tambourines and whistles and running and jumping and spinning. you both love mumford & sons’ “little lion man”, and i clear my throat when the f bomb is sung, every time.
you have discovered “hey jude”, and you are in love with it. you approach strangers and ask, “do you know what my name is?” you then proceed to introduce yourself, and often launch in: hey jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better. remember to letter into yer skin. NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH HEY JUDE!
you are at the age of delightful malapropisms, and wordsmith that i am, i love it. you still kind of confuse pirates and vampires. you say, “ahoy there, ladies!” instead of mateys. you call old navy “old lady”, which i hope sticks forever. i could go on and on, but it’s early in the morning as i write (and 2 weeks after i began this letter), so nothing is coming. rest assured, however, that your moms record it all in a book called my quotable kid; best gift ever from your auntie shannon.
jude, you are speedily–and a bit recklessly–rounding the corner of four, and i am amazed to watch what your brain and soul are up to. we have begun reading a chapter of narnia to you every night, and while you have a hard time sitting still, you listen and remember the stories well. we finished the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe last week, and it rocked your world in an intense way. because you are currently obsessed with death: what in your life is eligible to die? what happens after? and we talk as honestly as we can about it: about the death of trees and bugs and people. do houses die? well, kind of.
you understand that death is an ending of everything familiar. you struggle (hello, you human, you) with the mystery of next, and aslan seems to be exactly what you needed to find rest for your four-year-old soul. “aslan died, and than he CAME BACK TO LIFE!” you exclaim, your bright blue eyes at their widest. your eyes brows raise higher and higher as you contemplate what that could possibly mean.
and then, you can’t remember aslan’s name. you confuse him with lambert the sheepish lion again. because you’ve still got a bit of three-year-old in you.
oh, how i love you, my children. you are my joy and my hope.
and here you are, in all your glory, you sillies: