Friday, February 8, 2013

The Kids These Days: 2.5 and 4 Years

Well, well, well ... I am finally getting around to writing this, nearly four months after starting it.  I realized that Mollie will be three years old in just under two months over one month now (yes, I've been trying to write this for that long), and she's not technically even two-and-a-half anymore.  *sigh*  The good thing is, all the things I was going to write about still hold true, so that's something, right?  Anyway, here goes ...

Amalia, my little lady, is now two-and-a-half years old, a fact she is actually able to tell you about now.  She is really easy to understand and seems to have a wide vocabulary, but there are still words here and there that she mispronounces.  She used to have a bunch, but slowly they've been replaced by correct pronunciation and quite frankly it makes me a little sad; I miss her calling water "yaya", sleep sheep "beep beep", and the like.  All it took was a quick correction by me and the cute little toddler talk vanished, and while that's great I am - rather selfishly - choosing not to correct some of her mistakes just yet.  For example, she just butchers the word "your"; it comes out something more like "thurrr" and it's adorable.  Plus, people don't know what she's saying, so right now I can get away with it if she insults someone - which she has been known to do.  (More on that later ...)  She also says "bobbin" instead of "bottom" ... cute beyond words.

So, the insults ...

A little while ago a new person came to our house for a visit, and as per usual, Mollie wouldn't speak a word to her.  After the woman left, Mollie looked me right in the eye and said, "I didn't like her face."  Yeah, she said it.  I was shocked, to say the least, and she followed it up with, "I didn't like her face and I didn't like her."  At that moment I was intensely grateful for her shyness, otherwise I could totally see her saying that to the person's unappealing face.  (The woman's face was actually quite pretty; I think that's just how Mollie was expressing her discomfort at having a stranger in the house.)  Ordinarily, though, Mollie is quite complementary.  Really, I swear!

Recently, Mollie started saying, "When I get tall like Grandpa E ..." and finishing it up with what she is looking forward to doing when she is older.  Grandpa E is the gold standard in our family for those who want to be tall, so I can't blame her.  (Trust me, I wanted to be as tall as him - which is about 6'3" - when I was a little girl; at 5'4" I clearly fell a little short of the goal.)  And her list of things that she'll do when she's as big as he is includes potty train, drive, and like certain foods.

My lovely girl has, blissfully, decided to skip the whole princess phase and declare herself a queen.  Yes, a queen.  She proclaimed it one day as she was wearing a pink floral corduroy dress from back when Christine and I were kids (literally ... it was one of our dresses; Mom saved it) and was feeling particularly fancy - it has poofy sleeves and lace around the collar and wrists, after all.  A week or so later we decided I would be the queen mum.  And it is wonderful.

Amalia has an imaginary brother named Andy-brother that she speaks of frequently.  I am apparently not Andy-brother's mom and Bryson isn't Andy-brother's dad so I'm not exactly sure how they are related, but she thinks of him as a brother all the same.  He is of varying ages depending on the day, though she often makes him younger than herself.  She also, occasionally, has a sister named Mollie.  Andy-brother and imaginary Mollie live in my Mollie's imaginary pink house.  She created it in her mind months ago and talks of it regularly.  Baylor also has an imaginary house, blue of course, where his imaginary brother lives.  He is also of varying ages and often gets to do things Baylor wishes he could do (e.g., drive a car).

Mollie has three dolls now that she cares for on a pretty regular basis, Sally, Colin, and Adele.  She loves to pat them, put them to bed, feed them on occasion (Colin spent the bulk of one day in a high chair "eating" a salad, a.k.a. a piece of play lettuce), and so on.  She's very caring and considerate with them and often likes to take them all out with us.  I usually put the kibosh on that unless we're going to Oma's house, and then it's an adorable free for all as Mollie tries to figure out how she can carry them all to and from the car (one of our rules for Oma's house is that if you're going to bring something, you have to be able to carry it yourself ... I have enough bags to carry, thank you very much).  When it was just Sally, before she had really taken notice of Colin and Adele who have been around longer, she used to have her sleep on the glider in her room and would kiss the "boo boo" on her forehead (a blue mark left by an errant toy no doubt) and both of her eyebrows.  It was adorable and so sweet.  Now that there are three of them, she's less consistent with where they sleep, typically either bringing them into bed with her or leaving them downstairs altogether.

Dear Amalia isn't all sugar and spice, though.  She has a stubborn streak a mile wide (wonder where she gets that from ...) and has been known to throw a fit every now and then.  Her favorite and most signature move is a general slumping of the shoulders when she is displeased with something.  It's very dramatic, though it elicits more laughter than sympathy at this point.

Both kids hate it when I make dinner every night, mostly because it means I can't go play with them in the living room.  I try to get them to keep me company in the kitchen coloring or reading, but they can only do that for so long before they get restless.  (I am one of the slowest cooks in history, able to stretch a "15-minute meal" into a two-hour long ordeal.  They have time to get bored, believe me.)  For a while there, they would both freak out any time I would pull my hair back in a pony tail (like I do when I make meals), with Mollie often moaning, "Don't make dinner now, Mommy!"

Mealtime in and of itself is a bit of a test of wills and patience at this point.  They both tend to be kind of pokey eaters who would much rather talk than feed themselves.  We often end up feeding them, though for Baylor especially this seems a bit ridiculous; we've tried to just let them feed themselves, but then dinner ended up being hours long and even more torturous.  The best nights are when we have some of their favorite foods, as those tend to be the nights that they actually scarf down whatever I've made.  Lately those favorite foods are tortellini, pizza, and - Mollie's favorite - tacos.  Sadly, I don't feel comfortable just keeping those three foods in constant rotation, so we have to endure slower-eating nights quite often.

Mollie and Baylor are both digging The Beatles something fierce right now.  We listen to their number ones CD on constant repeat in the car, and they have their favorites they look forward to hearing (Mollie loves "Ticket to Ride" and Baylor loves "Daytripper" and "Hey Jude").  Every time I see the track number display flip back to "1" I heave a small sigh, but then I remind myself that we are listening to The Beatles and not Kids Bop or The Wiggles or something else equally annoying and I smile.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I salute you!

Baylor is really getting into reading these days and has started up some chapter book series.  We started out with the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, but we stalled out at G when they didn't have it at the bookstore.  (Yes, I buy him the books ... for a few reasons.  One, he can be hard on books, and as we've already returned a few library books damaged I didn't want my card revoked for the rest of eternity.  Two, he actually reads and rereads them all the time; his "rest time" consists of him sitting in his bed reading books for an hour or two and most of the time he chooses chapter books.  And three, I'm hoping Mollie will get into them someday, and it'd be nice to have them already on hand when the time comes.  Plus, she loves just about anything Baylor loves, and I'm hoping to use that to my advantage when it comes to getting her to love reading.)

Anyhow, I digress.

He is now working his way through the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, having received books one through four for Christmas.  These, and the aforementioned mystery books, are great, but they are for a bit more mature of a reader than a four year-old so we've had to do a bit of explaining and a bit of calming down when things got too intense.  (He had a particularly rough time when a T. rex was introduced in one of the books.)  On the upside, he's learning some pretty impressive words like "precipice" and "samurai", and our dictionary is getting a workout.

Baylor is getting into the whole Star Wars thing, though he hasn't seen any of the movies yet.  He initially became interested in them when he saw a bunch of cool-looking Star Wars sets in a Lego catalog, but his interest was piqued even more when I checked out a copy of R2-D2 and Friends at our local library; he spent about four weeks (I renewed it once) pouring over it and memorizing it with little effort.  I'm looking forward to watching the movies with him someday, but I am pretty certain he's too young for that right now.  All in good time.

Speaking of Legos, Baylor still loves them.  (Shocker, right?)  He has a bunch of sets, but he rarely does them by the instructions anymore.  Instead he prefers making "Baylor originals" or "creations" as he calls them, occasionally referencing the instructions for tips on how to make this or that.

Baylor is also into the cash register he got from Santa this past Christmas.  It has a bunch of educational games on it, and from those Baylor has learned all the names and values of the coins and is working on learning how to add and subtract.  It's pretty amazing to watch him at it, and for something that most people would consider a bit too "educational" Baylor really seems to find it fun.

Baylor is a very glass-is-half-full kind of kid.  He's always looking for the silver lining in any situation.  Your team didn't win?  Don't worry, the other one did!  I don't want you to read the story tonight, Daddy, but you can snuggle with me!  On top of that, he's always looking for the best in people; he doesn't want anyone to be mean or hurtful.  Take this recent interaction as a prime example ...

Baylor, after his rest time, told me he wanted to be a villain and I would be the hero.  I was pretty surprised by this as he's only recently been even remotely open to the idea of good guys vs. bad guys, so I agreed.  However, I had to go to the bathroom first, so I told him I'd be right out to play.  While I was in there, I could hear him scamper into the kitchen, read a magnet off the fridge, laugh, and run away again.  After I finished up, I paused at the desk to check my e-mail.  All of a sudden he cackles at me and slams the French doors right next to the desk saying, "I'm locking you out, Mommy!"  Then he blew raspberries on the door for good measure.  I asked, "Are you being the villain?"  He grinned and said that he was, then he told me that he had stolen something and pointed to the magnet from the fridge I had overheard him reading.  I smiled then dashed around the stairway and into the living room and tackled him.  "You got me!" he shrieked, then he sat up very seriously and said, "I am sorry for stealing that.  I will be better in the future."  Worst.  Villain.  EVER.  And I love him all the more for it.

He's also quite complimentary.  Quite often he'll come up to us and say something like, "I like your shirt!" or "I like your hair!"  It's super cute, and it's nice to see that he understands how complimenting someone makes them feel good.

But believe me, Baylor isn't perfect; he has his quirks and issues just like the rest of us.  For example, he is not a morning person.  Let me repeat that ... he is NOT a morning person.  On non-school, nowhere-to-go days, I let him sleep in as long as he likes; he needs the sleep, so I'm happy to just let him go.  School days, though ... ugh, school days.  He really needs to be woken up by 7:00 so we can leave sometime around 8:20 and make it to school on time, and waking him up then does not guarantee that we won't have to hurry.  Sometimes he's so tired that he grabs his blanket and pillow as I'm scooping him out of bed and proceeds to lay his head down at the breakfast table.  *sigh*  High school is going to be a real treat, I can already tell.

Baylor also, for whatever reason, likes to try out just about every public restroom he runs across.  If we're eating at a restaurant, you can almost guarantee he'll have to use the potty at some point, most of the time just so he can see it.  And while restaurant bathrooms are certainly his favorite, he isn't above "needing" to use the potty at Costco or Target.  Unfortunately, he hates hand dryers, so we have to do a lot of careful observation when we first enter a bathroom to prepare for the possibility that he'll have to endure the noise of a dryer at some point.  (Costco is definitely the worst for this; he ended up crying in the stall the other day because they have those terribly loud Dyson Airblade hand dryers and the bathroom was busier than I had realized.)

My little man has a bit of a love/hate relationship with the homework he gets in preschool.  He usually has fun doing it once he starts, but man does he put up a fight to get there.  It's been getting a little better as of late, but now we have a new problem: for a while he was writing his name on his paper just as he should (okay, maybe a little bigger, but whatever ...), but now he has decided to be artsy with his "signature" and creates little stories with the letters.  Oh look, the L is holding the O and R!  Or hey, the B has a hat on!  I often want to write a note with each assignment to let his teacher know what is going on in each crayon stroke, but I try to refrain and let Baylor's work speak for itself.  I have a feeling I'll be fighting this urge for many years to come.

Both kiddos have been testing their boundaries lately, and it's getting a little tiring for me.  I have a pretty firm "whining will not get you anything" stance, and have for quite some time, but recently they seem to have decided to test my limits.  Just how far can we push Mommy until she caves?  Unfortunately, it often ends with them crying a bit and me feeling a little guilty over holding my ground.  I feel so strongly about them not being spoiled and getting their way all the time, though, that I'm willing to endure a little unhappiness if it helps them cope with disappointments later in life.  *sigh*  But that is a much larger issue for another post - should I get around to writing it.

So that's it!  Actually, that's just the tip of the iceberg with the kids; there is so much more to them than I can really relate here.  But I want to hit the highlights of how they are now so that someday, way down the line, I'll remember their sweet little selves at two-and-a-half and four.

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