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Dear Ezra: Month Thirty-eight

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Dear Ezra,

This month I have loved watching your understanding of time evolve. You have started to repeat time cues I’ve given you, telling me, “we’re going to do that at 4,” or “Mia is coming at 8.” You don’t have any idea what that means, but it sounds so official. For you, everything that actually happened, or that you wish had happened in the past happened “last night.” Last night you might have seen your babysitter or your best friend or eaten pizza or gone fishing. You might have been at a swimming pool or at the beach or on a bike. Things you remember from a year ago and things we actually did this morning seem equal to you, all possible all the time. This seems like an immensely satisfying way to see the world.

You continue to love stories and songs, and have a great facility at memorizing both. This month you amazed us by launching frequently into a full version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which neither of us even remember teaching you. We kept thinking you’d stop, but then Dinah had to blow her horn, there was some fee-fi-fiddly-i-o-ing we needed to hear about, and some strumming on the old banjo. You had dramatic mid-song pauses, rhythm and tempo shifts, and you really carried the tune.

You’re constantly picking up new things and turning them over and over in your mind. We sang you “Little Bunny Foo Foo” one day, and a week later I found you sitting on your own, intently trying to form your fingers into little bunny ears. You love the complexity of your new favorite song, “Monkey’s Wedding,” which has no chorus and is full of delightful new words like hurdy-gurdy that you carefully figure out. We recently read a book with a Grandma and Grandpa, neither of which term we really use for any of the grandparents, and the next time I mentioned Grammy, you figured it out: “Grammy‚Ķgramm‚ĶgramMA, grandma!” You have a friend named Noah and a friend named Nova, and one day you developed an elaborate tongue twisting story about them, delighting in how their names play off each other.

This month was the peak of our summer travel season, and you weathered it happily. First there was Toad Hall, a lovely country estate we visited with Julie and Nathaniel and baby Phinny. You whirled through the house, finding new toys and places to play, experimenting with the idea of being brave enough to ride on the tractor (you weren’t) or to feed handfuls of grass to a giant horse (you were).

We took you to the Wisconsin State Fair, where we discovered horse pulling, AKA toddler heaven. Horses! Pulling a truck! Over and over and over and over and over again. We could have left you there for hours. But our short adult attention spans demanded new sights, so we put you on a camel with Levi, sent you down a slide shaped like a giant pig, showed you where milk comes from, examined hundreds of ducks and geese (which you painstakingly named: “this one is Lonny, this one is Ponny, this one is Lonny Ponny”), and took you on a kiddie roller coaster and the sky tram. You had moments where your cautious, fearful side won over your determination to try everything — you got stuck half way up to the top of a very high slide for a very long few minutes — but mostly you were so brave and up for new things all day.

You were also brave and up for new things on our weeklong trip to the Northwoods. You rode a horse, you went go-karting, you went in a kayak and a rowboat. We were back at the resort we visited last summer, a quaint camp of small cottages with a little beach, a fishing pier, and a tennis court. I went out for groceries one afternoon and came home to find you catching fish with some new friends on the pier. It was all catch-and-release so I don’t think you truly understand the bloody death part of fishing, but you loved the feel of the pull on your fishing pole, the excitement of reeling it in. You even consented to touch the fish you caught before your patient tutor unhooked them and threw them back. True to your obsession with how things work, you loved the button and reel almost as much as anything else about it, and the day we tried to get you to fish with a Tom Sawyer-style pole and string, you completely balked.

You know what you want, what you’re up for, and when you can do it. And so, on your 38-month-aversary, you told me, “I want to go poop on the potty.” And you did. And then, a few accidents (and, oh, there have been some gross accidents) notwithstanding, you were kind of basically potty trained. Every time I think about pushing you to do something you don’t seem quite ready to do, I’m going to try to remind myself about this feature of your personality. You know your mind, buddy, and we love you for it.


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