My dear dear boy,
You are now 4, which I can hardly believe. Every time I tell people I have a four year old, the words get stuck in my mouth. I remember you being a baby like it was yesterday, and yet you daily show me just how big and grown up you are becoming.
Your mind is like no other. I have been a teacher for many years, and I don’t think that I have ever seen a more wild and vivid imagination in a child. I’ve even seen you “sculpt” toys out of thin air and play with them, because your mind is doing all the work. When your friends (of which you have many!) aren’t there to play with you, I can hear you pretending that they are, even talking to them like they are right beside you. You take your trains and transformers and you play by yourself for hours at a time. And you HATE being disturbed!
It warms my heart to see what a protective big brother you’ve become. You inform me when AJ’s crying or is hurt, you get him water and food (oftentimes without permission!), you soothe him when he’s upset. You answer for him when strangers ask questions, and you show him how to do almost everything. You boss him around all day long, and he is almost always looking to your lead. It’s a big responsibility, and one that I know you won’t take lightly.
One of the biggest ways in which I’ve seen you grow is you’ve become so outgoing! Playing with other kids is your favorite thing to do. Every morning, you wake up and ask me, “What are we going to do today?” or, “Who’s coming to visit us today?” You beg me to take you “downtown” (and then freak out when we go up the elevator to the train platform, because you are worried we’re going “uptown” instead!) . You just started attending church school, and you repeat all the stories to me later. The other day, you sat on my lap and asked me to tell you all about Saint Demetrios (you overheard me teaching my class), and then asked about your Saint Gregory. I was able to tell you why your name is so important and what a great man you are named after, and you were delighted.
Just recently, after months of putting up a fight, you potty trained yourself. I say it this way, because it wasn’t until I got out of the way that you finally decided it was time. Just like that, one day, you started using the toilet, and you never again needed a pull-up, even at night. I noticed such a huge change in you right around this time. Your confidence was soaring, and you started taking bolder and braver risks. I remember one day in particular, you decided out of nowhere to scale the 6 foot wall at the playground. You looked down at me with a huge accomplished smile, as if to say, “I can do anything now!”
Your favorite thing at the moment is Transformers, and you are constantly making gun and robot noises. You can tell me the entire storyline of the Transformers Prime series, and you quickly named everyone you knew as a different Transformer. One day in church, you even asked me where the icon of Optimus Prime was! You love to use your watercolors, read books (you are sounding out words!), and you count all the way to 50! You are almost always humming a song (or two, or three!). The other day, you heard “You Are My Sunshine” come on the radio, and you grabbed my hand and whispered tenderly, “Momma, this is our song.”
You love to help me around the kitchen, and you take a lot of ownership during our grocery trips. You’ve also become very protective of me, making sure I’m okay if I look the slightest bit upset. You are constantly asking questions about your place in the world, whether or not you’re a grownup yet, or about how to “grow big and strong”. About 9 months ago, we realized that both gluten and dairy were bothering your stomach, and so I started having to modify your diet. You have handled it like such a champ, however, asking me before you eat things to make sure they’re “goo-ven free”, and then asking me to put extra gluten in for Dadda and AJ 😉 You have been so patient and understanding, even when everyone around you is eating something that you want.
I think that every mom identifies with one of her children more than the others. Gregory, you are that child for me. Before you were even born, I felt like I “knew” you, and even now, I see so many qualities that we share. One of the reasons I know so much about the way your personality works is because mine is so stinking similar. When I see you embarrassed or hurt, I know why, because I remember feeling the same exact way. When you run into obstacles, I cringe, because I feel why they are hard for you on a gut level.
And that is why, dear boy, I am so very proud of you. I see you conquering your pride and your stubbornness daily, and it convicts me to do the same. You care about things with such intensity and ferocity, I am inspired to be more passionate. You are almost always cheerful and upbeat, which is something I am still working on. There are many times where I look at you and think that you inherited the best of both Dadda and I, and I am in awe of how God is molding your heart and mind into something so incredible.
Happy Birthday, my only first baby. You are my little partner in crime, and I love all the time we get to spend together.
P.S. Seriously, thank you for learning how to use the potty. I don’t know what I would have done if we’d had to buy even one more package of pullups.
Funny Quotes and Good Memories of You This Year:
“Dadda, you are MY adult. And I am your kid.”
(singing): “My mom-ma got that base, face, place, waste, no trouble.”
“Momma, the tummy bug is gone now! It flew outside and I squished it dead.”
(After I corrected you)
“Momma, I think that we’re about to get mad at each other.”
(while twirling my hair with your fingers): “Momma, I’m doing this so you can be beautiful like me. “
Me: “Thank you for helping me Gregory!”
Gregory (very seriously): “Yes, Momma. You almost always need someone’s help. “
Real conversation, overheard while baking cookies with you:
“See that oven, AJ? It’s very hot. I can’t touch it. Momma can’t touch it. Momma’s not going to put YOU in there. Not yet. Be a good boy and you won’t get burned like a cookie.”
Some definite tear-jerker/deep quotes from you as you got his blood drawn a few months ago:
Me: “What happy thing were you thinking about?” (thank God for Daniel Tiger!)
Gregory: “I was thinking about Dadda because he’s big and strong like me! <pause> I was NOT thinking about you, Momma. ”
Me: “Gregory, you didn’t even cry!”
Gregory: “That’s because I was crying behind my eyes, not in front of them.”
Gregory played with his little “dress the bears” puzzle today. He put the Dadda Bear in a suit because, “he goes to work”, and he put the Momma Bear in Pjs because “she sleeps a lot”.
Right before communion, you asked to go stand near the Jesus crucifix icon. You counted all of Jesus’ “owies”, then asked if you were going to get owies on his hands when you die someday, or whether you are going to die by dragon’s fire (thanks, Disneyland). After a somber pause, you said, “But Momma, we don’t have to be scared. Jesus makes us not afraid anymore. He loves me.” You did not want to leave the Jesus icon after that.
(After a big diaper explosion)
Gregory: “Momma, I so sorry.”
Me: “For what?”
Gregory: “For the poopoo coming out. “
Me: “Oh baby! That’s not your fault!”
Gregory: “I know. It’s your fault.”
Gregory: “cuz I make you so happy. “
Gregory: “where is every-buddy?”
Me: “At school!”
Gregory: “oh. I don’t want to go to school. I want to stay here and love you.”
The downside to waiting until 3+ yrs old to turn him forward facing? He narrates my every.single.move and tells me what to do. On the plus side, it’s kind of adorable
Gregory: “Dadda, I cannot be your best friend. My best friend is AJ. Go be best friends with Momma.”
(After watching the Little Engine that Could)
Me: Do you have any dreams?
Gregory: No, no dreams, I’m feeling kind of puzzled.
Gregory is carrying a pillow around, telling me it’s his best friend. Perhaps we need to get out more.