Today you are sixty-three months old. Or, for normal people, five-and-a-quarter.
I haven’t written you a “monthly” letter since your birthday, so um, let’s say we’re going to do them quarterly now. Yeah, that works for me. Since you’re five now and all, you know.
It’s been a pretty busy three months, of course, with Halloween, a trip to Texas, Thanksgiving, Christmas and another trip to Texas all crammed in there.
And not nearly as much school as we expected, since between weather-related closures and delays (Snow! Ice! Sub-zero temperatures! Weather is okay but the heat is out at school!) and the first Texas trip, you’ve only attended one full five-day week of school since your birthday.
We had high hopes for this week, but nope, you’re delayed tomorrow for single-digit temperatures and sub-zero windchills, which means that the morning-only kiddos like you don’t go at all. You didn’t seem to mind when we told you.
You do enjoy school, but not so much the actual getting up and going part. This morning, you were really having trouble with getting dressed and out of the house, and there were tears and protestations. When your teacher got you out of the car, I told her, “We’re having kind of a rough morning, she’s in a bit of a mood. Good luck.” I then turned around and saw you literally skipping into the building.
You skip. I guess I’ve always thought, when I’ve seen depictions of little girls skipping along, that it was for dramatic effect, but no you skip, completely unironically. You skip down the hall at home, you skip into school, you skip across parking lots. And it’s about the cutest thing ever.
You seem to be doing well at school, too. You’re making progress with your reading, getting pretty good at decoding (“sounding out”) words, and I know that you’re working on word families at school (Last “week” (two days) you did “_ag” words.) using the moveable alphabet.
You’re also coming along with your math skills; you like to add things (using your fingers) and you’re getting the hang of getting “over the hump” to the next set of tens (39 to 40, 49 to 50) when counting.
Your fine motor skills, especially writing still are “not a strength” as the doctor said when we discussed it with him at your checking up early December. Both he and your teachers have said that they’re not worried at this point, though, you just need to keep working at it. The doctor said that it’s the sort of thing that’s total catch-up-able if necessary, and that “If she needs some OT down the road. . . ” and I interjected with, “They’ll do exactly the sorts of things that her Montessori teachers are doing with her now?” “Yep, pretty much.”
So, you’re doing a lot of transferring with tongs work and cutting work and other such things, and they’re working on actual letter writing with you, although you don’t seem to be too keen on that. The only time you’ve gotten in trouble at school (that we know of) was a couple of weeks ago, when you were rolling around on the ground and not working when you were supposed to be doing letter writing work. Later that day you also hit or pushed or had some sort of altercation with a little boy in your class.
When we talked about it, I asked if you were trying to avoid letter writing because it’s hard, and you said said yes, so we had a talk about how we can’t quit things just because they’re hard, and discussed several things that you’ve had to “practice and practice” to get good at, like walking and talking, and riding your tricycle. I think you sort of got it, because later in the evening, out of the blue you said, “I didn’t used to know how to whistle, but I tried and tried and now I can.” (You can.)
Since you’d skipped out on the letter writing work at school, I told you that you’d need to do some letter writing work at home. And what you needed to write was a letter to your teacher, apologizing for your behavior. I wrote “Dear Mrs S” for you and had you copy “I am sorry.” I then asked if you had anything else to say, and you dictated another whole page, to both the teacher and the little boy.
Dear Mrs S,
I am sorry.
I am sorry for not paying attention at school. I am sorry, please forgive me, “Mrs. S.” I am sorry that I didn’t do what I was asked at school. I am sorry that I didn’t cooperate at school.
R (the little boy), I am sorry, please forgive me.
Mrs. S, may I please sit next to someone else?
I will stay out of R’s say. I will do the letter writing. I promise to do the letter writing.
I will cooperate. I am sorry.
That was all straight from your mouth, other than my suggestion that you might want to ask to be separated from R. From what you told me, I don’t think it was your first conflict with him. And the week before, he kissed you.
That was an interesting one. You weren’t upset about it, but you weren’t too happy about it either. When I asked what you did, you said that you told the teacher, so I told you that was absolutely the right thing to do.
When I asked what you said to R, you told me, “I didn’t know what to say.” I told you that you could say, “Stop. I don’t like that,” and you said, “But I didn’t know what to say.”
I assured you that I wasn’t fussing at you for not saying that, I was giving you the words and telling you what you could say if it ever happened again. “Put on your strong voice and say, ‘Stop! I don’t like that!'”
“But I thought I was supposed to be polite.”
Oy. How many grown women have let some fella kiss them because they didn’t know what to say, and wanted to be polite.
So, we had a long talk about when you do and don’t have to be polite. I told you that if someone asks for a hug or kiss, they are being polite, so you need to respond politely, with a “No thank you,” but if they don’t accept that no, then it’s time for the “strong voice,” and they’re not being polite anymore, so you don’t have it.
We’re not thrilled that he kissed you when you didn’t want him to, but given that you weren’t all that bothered by it, it’s probably a good think in the long run, because it was a very good teachable moment about how to handle such things. A conversation that we will have many, many more times over the years, I am sure.
But other than those couple of incidents, school is going very well.
Dance class is going well, too, and you’ve decided to be in the recital this year! It’s a circus theme, and you are going to be a tiger with your Kinderdance class and a lion with Kinder Gymnastics. There are tails involved!
And now, three months worth of your greatest hits:
I was getting tired of you saying things like “poop” and “booty” just because, so I told you that if you need to say potty words, you can go in the bathroom, or you can go in her bedroom to say other private words. So, you went in your room and yelled words, both “private” and otherwise. I heard “Penis, vulva, booty!” as well as “Galloot has a booty!” and “Mama has a vulva!” Then you started shouting the names of random objects in your room.
One day, at almost supper time you asked, “Have I eaten my breakfast yet?” Um, yes.
Back in November, when I mentioned that Election Day was coming up, you were very disappointed that you wouldn’t have occasion to wear your Democratic Donkey costume.
One evening while Mommy was “taking” your bath, you thought it was hilarious to say, “I’m going to wash everything BUTT my booty!”
Around that same time, we read the original Wizard of Oz. In one scene, Dorothy, Tot and the Lion are hungry, so the Lion offers to go into the woods and kill a deer, for Dorothy to cook over the fire that she’s built. She says nothing, but the Tin Woodman begs him not to, because it would make him cry and then he’d rust.
You could not understand why the Tin Woodman would be upset if the Lion killed a deer for them to eat.
I finally just told you “Maybe the Tin Woodman is a vegetarian.”
You, obviously, are not.
(Actually, the Tinman and the Scarecrow don’t eat at all. Nor do they sleep, nor feel pain, nor are they affected by the poppies, because they are not made of flesh.)
One evening you’d said you wanted mac & cheese for dinner, so asked if you’d like to go out to eat somewhere with mac and cheese, like Red Robin. You said, “Enchiladas are nice, too.”
Mommy: Peeper, it’s time to get you dressed.
You: Oh, that’s easy to do!
Me, coming to tuck her you: And how are you, my love?
You: Very well, thank you!
In the bathtub: Head, shoulders, knees and toes! Head, shoulders, knees and vulva!
“Those silly people that don’t think five year olds can get goody need to go in timeout!”
Picking up a smoothie: “This cup is terribly cold on my little hands.”
Dancing like a crazy person: “I suddenly lost my footing! I got my footing back.”
Except for the fact that you can’t reach it, you can totally place our order on the touch screens at Sheetz. I just pick you up, and you get herself a smoothie and me a coffee, with no help, then I talk you through whatever other food I’m ordering.
One day, you did make one small misstep, when you got to the Latte vs Cappuccino option, and picked cappuccino, after whispering to herself, “c-c-c….” for “coffee.”
One night you were whimpering in bed, so I walked to your bedroom door and said, “Okay baby, I’m going to go potty, then I’ll come back to you.”
You mumbled, emphatically (if such a thing is possible), “I don’t wanna see your ugly, stripey face!” then rolled over, and went back to sleep.
One morning the alarm when off, I smacked the snooze button, and a second later, you said, “Well, that was loud.”
While tucking you in:
Me: I’m going to turn the heat up.
You: Good thinking!
While in Texas celebrating Grandma’s 80th birthday, I was telling you about our plans with her for the next day when you asked, “Do we have to drive instead of Grandma?” I told you that Grandma would probably drive, and you said, “But – eighty. I don’t think you can drive when you eighty.”
Mommy was showing you some P!nk concert flying / dancing videos.
Mommy : You don’t have to watch these if you don’t want to.
You: Siigh. Okaaaaaay. If I haaaaave to.
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King
(or sometimes newborn queen, and once, newborn panda)
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners wreck and siled.
Joyful of the nations rise, Like a triumph of the skies
With angelic roasts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Me: Peeper, do you know any other Christmas carols?
You: You taught me one yesterday, but I don’t remember it all. That one about swabbing the decks.
Me: Deck the Hall? (sings song)
You: Yeah. I couldn’t pronounce all the words.
One morning in December, you insisted that I sleep in (“You go to sleep. I’m not getting up until you’re asleep!”) and then only woke Mommy long enough to open a squeezy yogurt for your breakfast. I got back in the big bed with Mommy, and you were in and out snugging with us for another hour and a half, until you asked Mommy to get up with you. I said I’d get up, too, and you brought me a package of oat crackers for breakfast. When we got to the kitchen, you handed Mommy an apple for her breakfast (“Because we didn’t have bananas.”) and then asked to make our coffees (with the Keurig, and a bit of supervision). Did somebody tell you the naughty/nice Santa thing?
In preparation for seeing it on stage, I read A Christmas Carol to you. I had to stop a lot of translate the language and explain what was going on, but that whole ghost thing didn’t phase you a bit. I asked, “Do you think this is a scary story?” and you said, “No! I’m not scared of any spooky things!”
You also asked, “Why is Scrooge scared of the ghost, when it’s just wires and strings and pillowcases?”
When I asked if you thought the ghosts would be scary when she saw them on stage, you said (with a “are you an idiot, woman?” tone of voice), “No, because I’m not scared of actors.”
I can’t believe I was so worried about how non-verbal you were three years ago. Little did I know that by the time you were five, you’d be saying things like, “Will the floor vibrate if I jump on it?” and “When will your snowpants arrive?” and “There, Elmo, now you’re stabilized,” and “The tree won’t fall over, it’s totally stable,” and “Meanwhile…” and “Speaking of…” and “Perhaps….”
Also, “Torso!” and “Stinky’s running for President!” and “Poopie!” and “Boogers!” and “Snot!”
You: I want to go to the spooky noise video.
Me: Well go ahead.
You: I can’t.
Me: Why not.
You: I’m coloring on myself.
Peeper, you need to be wrapping it up in the tub.
But the water’s not too high.
I’m not talking about the water, I’m talking about the fact that it’s 8 o’clock.
Oh! 8 o’clock! I might as well get out!
One afternoon, as I was getting you dressed for dance class, you gave me a big bear hug and said, “You’re the best mother in the world!”
When I recovered, I asked why, and you said, “Because you take me to dance class!” (This is the first time we’d been in a month, because of Texas / Thanksgiving / surgery.)
That almost, but really not at all, made up for the day before.
You were jumping on me and when I tried to settle you down you got more crazy and sort-of-accidentally kicked me, so I put you down off the couch, then you hit me. At that point, I said, “You need to go in your room for a little while,” mostly to just get some space between us.
A minute later, I went to the door and listened to you, and could hear you saying, “Mama doesn’t like me! Mama doesn’t like me!”
We had a long talk about unconditional love/like vs not being thrilled with certain behaviors.
Later that evening, during another discussion, you said something along the lines of, “You never get mad at me.”
You know, I thought you were a pretty smart kid, but boy, was your judgement off that week.
On the way home from church Christmas Eve, you said something along the lines of “I think Santa will go to the other houses first.”
“Do you mean in other parts of the world?”
“No, the other houses in Pennsylvania.”
“Why do you think he’ll go to them first?”
“Well he has to go somewhere first.”
One evening, I got you up to pee, as I do every night. You usually pretty much sleep through it, but that night, you fought me as soon as I tried to pick you up, then you wouldn’t stay on the toilet or relax enough to pee, crying the whole time. When I asked you what was wrong, you just kept saying, “Everything’s plastic!” I finally asked if she meant that the toilet was cold. Bingo! So, I peed, and sat a while to warm it up, then you were able to go. Jeez.
You were mad and wanted to slam a door, but you chose one that just will not slam (not sure why). You tried about three times, getting madder every time, while Mommy and I were torn between being amused and feeling bad for you, because I’m pretty sure we’ve both tried to slam that same door and failed.
You walked into the room with a new glass of orange juice, and Mommy said, “Did you get some more OJ?”
You asked, “Is that how you say ‘orange juice’ in Spanish?”
Mad about having to turn off her video and take a bath, you told Mommy, “You are a funny bunny!”
Me: I’m tired.
You: You should go to sleep.
Me: I can’t go to sleep until you do. What would happen if I go to sleep first? Would you still go to sleep?
You: It’s worth a try!
You built a “McCave” and you and Mommy were the “McCaversons.”
You were gathering laundry, singing as she pulled Mommy’s and my clothes out of our hamper:
This is the shirt that Mommy wore
Last time she went to work.
This is the shirt that Mommy wore,
It’s dirty as a whore.
Um, well, rhyming is good, right?
During your bedtime story, you got up to pee, and said you could wipe yourself. (I know you CAN but you don’t like to.)
When you came back in the bedroom, I asked “Did you wipe?”
“Yes” you said, with a giggle.
“No you didn’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you were laughing when you said it.”
Still standing right there, you said, “I wiped.”
“No you didn’t!”
“But I didn’t laugh that time.”
When I came home from work one afternoon, Mommy reported that you had had a bit of diarrhea earlier (sorry) and one “yucky burp” and “she says her tummy is annoyed with her.”
I said something about freezing my booty, to which you replied, “Booty! I LOVE grosso potty words!”
“Where is it? Previously, it was here.”
“I woke up and found that you weren’t there.”
“The toilet paper might go crazy, much like when I unrolled it.”
While at Target:
You: Do a funny dance!
You: To amuse the shoppers.
Well you amuse me, kiddo.
And I love you.