4 years old

dear gus,

when i asked you this morning how it feels to be four you said “sad.” surprised, i asked you why. “because i liked being three,” you said. oh my sweet baby you’re right: growing up IS hard. i can’t believe you are three no longer either!

you must have been excited for today, because you were up before 6! ugh. that means today was a rather tough one for you, and i guess that means a sad birthday too. but your birthday weekend as a whole was rather wonderful — a few friends over for birthday cake and birthday madness on saturday, birthday presents from mama and papa and grandparents on sunday, and your annual birthday zoo trip with ezra on monday. you got a great birthday haul (lots of fun games, books, toys, and activities!) and a lot of great birthday fun. we even squeezed in a little bit of snowshoeing this weekend too!

what a year you’ve had! the biggest news of being three, of course, is that you got a new baby brother this year. your papa and i really didn’t know what to expect, but i have to say that you’ve gone above and beyond what we ever hoped you could be as a big brother. it’s true that sometimes you are a little rough or not careful, and sometimes you tell me you’d rather not have a brother, but all the rest of time, most of the time, you just are the lovingest big brother ever. you really like being a big brother, and your little brother really likes having you! you are fiercely protective of him (bursting into angry tears and yelling at papa once for accidentally making cal cry), love to cheer him up, and are even happy to occasionally play with him. you do okay sharing with him — although you get frustrated too when he’s in your space (of course!). you LOVE dressing like him — i often have to find matching hats or coats or shirts or pants for the two of you. and you are always so delighted when you “look like each other.” it was pretty tough for you at first — the first week or two with calum was a big adjustment for you (for all of us!) — but once you got used to the idea that he was sticking around, you really started to dig this having a brother thing. it’s been a beautiful thing to see, the two of you falling in love.

we’ve had some tough times this year too, though. being three is HARD. lots of crazy hormones all over the place for you little ones, making everything so much tougher than it used to be. i have to apologize, my sweet boy. i was not always the best mama i could be this year for you. i lost my patience so much more often than i would have liked. we had so many more battles than we needed to have. i had a lot of moments that i was not proud after. i feel like we both grew a lot this year, but i wish i could have made things easier for you, sometimes. my birthday promise to you is that i will never stop trying to be a good mama! i can’t promise that we won’t have any more tough times, but i promise that i will always tell you i’m sorry and i’ll always admit when i am wrong. i am proud of that, at least, that i did always apologize for my cranky times. we are a work in progress, my love.

but oh the things you learned this year! you’re starting to learn how to swim, (occasionally!) eating more fruits (pears, mangoes, apples, strawberries) and vegetables (especially, green beans, broccoli, corn, carrots), learning how to jump in the pool on your own — and even swim a little! — getting better and faster on your bike, climbing into swings on your own, playing soccer (!), taking dance classes, writing letters (! you learned how to make the G all on your own!), learning your letters and your numbers, helping us cook, helping us clean — learning how to be responsible for cleaning up after yourself, learning how to put on all your clothes — shirt, pants, underpants, socks (with a little help), shoes (sometimes with a little help, sometimes all on your own, depending on the shoe), coat, hat, gloves and mittens (although sometimes you need help, depending on the jacket you are wearing). you help me with your brother. you help me with your carseat. you help papa shovel the snow (you even have your own shovel!). you help with the garbage and recycling (you still love to do this). you know how to use the computer and how to put in dvds.

you love to play board games — you started with goodnight moon, and then quickly moved on to others: candyland, chutes & ladders, checkers, chess (no, really, you learned how to play chess this year — all the pieces), pengoloo, chugga choo choo, orchard, hi ho cherry-o, pirate pop-up. and you love to play them over and over and over. you LOVED puzzles this year, but now are a bit over them. you’ll still do them sometimes, but they are not one of your favorites anymore. you love card games, and know a few of those as well: slapjack (and various other slap versions), crazy 8s (or other crazy numbers), suits, beggar my neighbor, and boxing. you could play board games all day long — unless of course you’ve done your quiet time, and then you’d like to do some computer time, please.

you learned how to use the mouse and keyboard from boowa & kwala, and learned a lot about exploring from poisson rouge. you still like those websites, but have moved on to others, some educational, some purely recreational (like “packers” and “sonic the chipmunk“). we bought you some pre-schooler “quest” games (ollo and didi & ditto), and you loved them too (we even got you a new didi & ditto for your birthday this year). it’s been so fun sharing the computer with you!

you still LOVE to read. we go to the library once a week. you often pick out books for calum as well as for yourself. in the summer we would sometimes eat ice cream or a popsicle or just have a nice good drink of cold water on the front porch reading our most recent library haul while we waited for papa to come home. you love chapter books as much as picture books, and your papa and i love reading to you just as much as you love being read to. you read one or two books every night with papa, plus you read a few to yourself every afternoon during quiet time.

i started quiet time for you at the end of this summer to help you learn how to just spend some time with yourself. you didn’t like it at all at first, but now you do quite well on your own. you usually look at books by yourself, but sometimes you play quiet (or loud, which is NOT quiet time! i’m just saying) games or tell yourself stories, or do other mysterious things up in your playroom to entertain yourself. after 3 1/2 years of your being the little guy who always needs someone to keep him busy, it’s pretty impressive to see you figuring out how to play alone. i’m proud of you, my baby! just one more accomplishment out of a long list of big kid things you are learning how to do!

what a year of growing that it’s been, my love! what a lucky mama i am to have a boy like you! thank you thank you thank you for everything you’ve taught me and all the love you’ve given me. i’m so grateful for you and am looking forward to all the new and exciting things that being four will bring! i promise that you will love this age too!

love,

mama

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