Now you are four. You can play the fiddle and ride a balance bike with both feet up. You can put your head under the water in a pool without flinching, kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, and fly a kite. You’ve held a butterfly and a frog and learned how close you can get to a gosling before its mama freaks out. You make up words to fit your needs: the verb for “riding a scooter” is “scooter-wooter” and the desire to see a TV show is “feeling watchy.” You also create songs to fit your mood, and bend rules with the best of them. You are, depending on the day, either a Very Big Boy, or a Very Medium-Sized Boy. But most importantly: you are no longer a toddler. You are a kid.
In the last few months, you’ve had all sorts of adventures. In April we visited New York, where you reveled in amazing playgrounds, endless subway rides, new friends, your cousin River, neat museums, and even a special overnight adventure with Aunt Lilli, Uncle Jed, and the poodles. We stayed in the basement of my college roommate’s apartment building, and the thrill of having two big kids just up a flight of stairs, plus their cool toys at your disposal, was probably the highlight of the trip for you. You still ask when we can go back to “Danny’s house.”
We’ve taken a few trips this month as well, and you’ve enjoyed your quiet weekends in the country as much as your big city adventure. At Momo’s house in Michigan, you watched the sunset, lit sparklers (and were brave about getting a burn on your finger), drew letters in the sand, and discovered baseball hats. At Toad Hall, you flew kites, met horses, and chased butterflies.
This spring and summer you’ve started taking lessons. Fiddle, soccer, baseball, swimming. You struggle, as you always have, with managing how these classes line up with the vision you have in your head for them. Some days you are right out there, loving every minute, and some days you are clingy as you work through something in your mind. But, even with the hard days — and we’re talking about full hours of clinging, crying, crazy that make both of us miserable — I’m still so proud of how much you’ve learned so far. Proud that you can take out a violin, rosin your bow, stand in fiddling position, and play a song (a one-note song, but STILL), and then take a bow. That you can put on your goggles, jump into a pool, go completely underwater, and then pop up happy as can be.
As you always have, you do new things on your own time in your own way. We had tried several times to interest you in a balance bike with absolutely no success. But then we bought one at a garage sale and just left it lying around the house and one day you picked it up. Two days later, you could take a running start, put both feet up on the little platform, and coast with perfect balance, even taking a corner. Every few weeks you rediscover a game or toy or household feature and come back to it with a whole new set of skills. One day, you discovered that you could pull a stool over to the counter, get a cup, open the fridge, and pour yourself some milk. Another day, while I was helping sick Zella in the other room for a while, you carefully and quietly took out my entire set of glass nesting bowls, laid them out in order of size, pulled a stool over to the sink, and carefully set about filling them. When I emerged from the bedroom to find your wet experiment, you revealed that you had discovered surface tension: “after the water goes over the top, it just stops at the top!”
A few weeks ago, we stuck around after your fiddle class for Old Town’s First Friday celebration. We didn’t know what to expect, but around 6:00, a lot of kids with instruments, a big pile of extra instruments to share, and a really nice music teacher with an upright bass filled into the lobby. You bounced around a little bit, experimenting with drums, with clinging and being shy, with wandering around. And then the teacher offered you a guitar to hold. A kid-sized guitar that you could hold and strum. And you did. For an hour. Without taking a break. In perfect rhythm to each song, you carefully held your guitar and played along. You still talk about “the fun music party,” the perfect conjunction of so many things you love: music, nice teachers, getting to play (rather than just touch or see) instruments, a nice long time to ease into things. Then again, sometimes the music just overwhelms you, and you don’t need any time at all to become a crazy dancing polkaholic with a pirate face.
Recently, you were having trouble going to sleep and I noticed that the PJ shirt you’d picked out had a pocket. “Let’s write some good dreams down and put them in your pocket!” I told you. Your dreams were basically the things we were looking at (markers, easel, paper, puzzles, Zella), but it made you feel better and you asked for more dreams the next night. (And now you call all scraps of paper “dreams,” which, awwww.) More and more recently you’ve been crawling into bed with me for a few minutes in the middle of the night, needing a tiny bit of reassurance to face a thunderstorm or scary dream. It reminds me of when my father used to do “nightmare magic” to help me sleep. Your imagination is growing and growing and growing. I can’t wait to hear what dreams come next.
Happy birthday to my Very Big Boy.