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Just fine.

Carter is the reassuring type. Today, while making handprint art with paint on his second day of preschool, he told the hesitant 3-foot tall girl in front of him, “Don’t worry. It’s fun. You’ll be ok.”

In the car, he asked me what I’d be packing in for his daily snack — for the rest of the year.

“Carrots?”

“That will be fine.”

“Grapes?”

“Yep. That would also be fine. Just fine.”

“How about popcorn?”

“That’d be great.”

We keep going like this for a while (until he notes the absence of a personal favorite, peanut-butter-anything — and then we have an in-depth conversation about allergies). Olives, cheese sticks, graham crackers, apples and raisins check out. Celery not so much.

At the restaurant with Grammie, he dumps his crayons out of the cup and lines them up. The occasional gentleman, he lets Grams choose first. “Which color would you like?” She chooses blue. “Exxss…exxs…excellent choice.”

It’s dawning on me just how much of an only-child Carter Patrick has grown to be; he’s a mini-adult. I think about this, pretty much every day, and I alternate between worry and excitement. The flutters and kicks in my disproportional abdomen are hearty reminders that the Carter-only days are numbered. That’s a great thing, and a big change thing, all on its own.

So, preschool. The winds of fate put CP in The Owl Classroom, which you know just tickles me hot pink. Carter’s first days have been piece-of-cake, he’s-got-this, you-can-go-now-Mom easy. It’s heartbreaking.

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Backpack, snack box, and water bottle in tow, Bird took his first week by storm. Two years til kindergarten. It’ll be fine, right? Just fine.

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I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

Dear Carter Patrick,

“I love you, Mawm,” you half-giggled when you sat on my knees tonight grabbing my face. “Triiick urr Treeeat.”

On our drive home, an hour past your bedtime, you listed off the items you’d like to eat. “Chickin nuggits. Chickin nuggggits. Pea Nut But Ter. ‘Nems (M&Ms). Yullow ‘Nems.” Nevermind that you’d had a rather impressive stack of green beans and steak for dinner. “Drink. Finch Fies. Juice. Anana. Chickin nugggits.”

Twinkling holiday lights hanging in the mall. Soup steaming on the stove. I watch your eyes as you observe the smallest of minutia — what’s it like to be Carter and see the neighbor walking his dog? What does Carter think of the rain droplets on the windshield? To be honest, I don’t think I’d be half as mindful of my surroundings if I wasn’t constantly trying to see life from your fresh eyes.

You are pretty pleased with yourself when you are let to have your way. Today you had a snack in the bath tub, and as I stood in the doorway, I heard Jesse tell you, “Carter, get your cheese stick out of the water.” Fabulously entertaining, the things that I hear escape adult mouths, mine most included, these days. Can’t thank you enough for that.

You (still) love footballs, baseballs, orange-yellow-green-red-or-purple balls, “bass-kit-balls”, and all sporting equipment in general. You also like anything with wheels, anything that beeps, and anything that glows, but above all, you like anything that has to be figured out. You still love Mickey Mouse. You like reading and have started saying the words off the page before I get there. You’re smart that way. You put your toys back in the baskets and have an affinity for putting garbage in the trash can — you’re mimicking “hoops”. This week I found three sippy cups at the bottom of your hamper and a bottle of shampoo inside a drinking cup. Well played.

You are so very awake to the world these days. You’ve started to ask questions, your little voice pitching higher at the end of words and phrases. “Mawmmay, whereaaaaaaaa you?” You point and investigate and hunch down to get a closer look. “Wutts tat?”

Who I was before you, I can live without. Waking up and falling asleep, I think about you down the hall, and I know just what you look like and just how you’re breathing. I think about these past two years, and how I’ve known your sweet soul since you were the size of a blueberry, a kumquat, and and an orange. I knew you’d have blue-blue eyes and smell like summer laundry on the clothesline. I thought you’d be just like you are, charming and sensitive and and rough and tumble.

We have a lot in common, you know. Your indignance and sass, that’s me, and it’ll get you in trouble. Your dancing rhythm, or lack thereof, and the way your legs are ever so slightly bowed. Sorry about those two. Hopefully they’ll be endearing to others. The way your brow furrows when you’re thinking, and how you are compelled to laugh before the punchline. Your awe and love of nature and learning — how your eyes whisper at the moon, and the way you sigh when we finish books. I find myself wonderstruck, looking at a little boy-sized mirror.

But we’re also notedly different. You’re never shy. You’re coordinated. You’re dynamic. That’s all you, Carter Patrick. Watching you is exciting and heavy and light and breathtaking.

I can’t avoid that you’re going to have to turn two, my little walking clock. But in trying to keep up, I’m having the time of my life. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.

Mom.