Well, this letter is later than I intended.
On the actual day you turned 40 months old, you went to Grandma and Poppa’s house to spend the weekend while your mother and I went to a wedding in Illinois. Since then, we’ve felt like we’ve been running around like crazy getting stuff done.
You’ve had a lot of travel, lately. We spent a week in New York with my parents, including visits with my siblings and your cousins Mason and Lucy. For the most part, you’ve done surprisingly well with this. The trip to New York is a long one, but you did a great job in the car.
In this past month, you’ve decided that sleep can wait. We’ll go through your usual bedtime routine, and then you’ll get out of bed. Sometimes it’s for legitimate reasons – you need to use the potty, typically – but other times, you’re just bored and you don’t want to sleep. You’ve given us all sorts of excuses. You needed more snuggles (because you know it’s hard for us to say no to that), you needed a drink (maybe true, maybe not), you had a scary dream (sometimes trying to claim this within a literal fifteen seconds of my leaving your room), you needed “sumfing” but you weren’t sure what… it’s been a challenge, many nights, to stop you from getting up out of bed. On more than one occasion, you’ve kept this up every few minutes for as much as two hours.
You’ve also been trying to use fake crying as a way to get what you want. Frankly, you’re not very good at it yet – we can tell your fake cry from your real cry.
At the same time, you continue to prove yourself to be caring and loving to everyone. Your pre-school did a Trike-a-Thon to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and you helped put a video online to solicit donations, and you gladly got up in front of church to talk about it too (although at the last second you decided you’d rather tell a knock-knock joke and we had to guide you back onto topic). The morning of the Trike-a-Thon, I stayed with you at pre-school for about an hour and a half, helping you ride and steer. There was a stretch of time before the “race” started where we were on the playground with your classmates, and it wasn’t enough for me to play with you – you insisted that I play with your friends, too, and help them climb into the tire swing, or push them on the regular swings, or play “drive-thru” with them (one of your classmates gave me pretend grapes and then pretended to pay ME for them; I’m skeptical of either his economic sensibilities or the quality of the imaginary food). You voluntarily tell people, unprompted, when you like something they’re wearing. You love helping out around the house; you want more and more responsibility. You want to do everything from turning on the lights to putting peanut butter on your own toast, from unloading the dishwasher (usually handing the items to me faster than I can put them away) to stirring food in a pot.
You turn everything into a song. When you’re playing on your own, we’ll hear you singing a little tune describing what you’re doing, or imagining what could happen if something was different (“If you build wiv blocks up to the ceiling, you will not be able to weach dem, and dey will fall dowwwwwwwn…”)
You’re intensely curious about words. You’re just starting to rhyme (the other night, after I called you honey, you called me honey bunny, which I suppose is better than Daddy Fatty). In conversations, if I use a word you don’t know, you ask me what it means. Usually, you remember it, too. The other day I heard you correctly use the word “identification” (you pronounced it “den-bacayshin,” but it was clear in context what you were saying). You’ve also started picking up phrases – some of them I have no idea where – and using them idiomatically, even when they don’t quite fit or have a reason to be there (“I would like a kiwi. And dat’s da twoof!”).
I’ve been trying to think about what advice I want to give you this month – with the usual reminder, of course, to be who you are.
And I think I’ve figured out what I want to say.
Don’t give up on what you want.
One of the lessons we’ve been trying to teach you lately is not to give up on things. You had trouble building a tower with your blocks and you announced with the saddest face, “I give up!” We told you that wasn’t allowed. You tried again, moving more slowly and carefully, and you managed to balance a tower that was crooked and wobbly and should not have stayed up, but because you had done it so carefully, it DID stand up. The sense of pride and accomplishment you had was massive. You ran to me and gave me a huge hug, telling me over and over again to look at what you had done.
I want you to have that feeling as often as you can. When you manage to do something you think you couldn’t, it feels GREAT. If you can’t do it on your own, you can always ask for help. My personal take it that it’s FINE to give up on things you don’t really want. If I start reading a book and it’s terribly written and uninteresting, I’m going to give up on it, because what I WANT is to read a good book. Don’t give up on things just because they’re hard, or because you can’t do it right the first time, or the second time, or the tenth time.
Don’t give up. If you do, you’ll always look back and wonder if you had honestly tried everything you could to succeed.
I love you so much, Sage. To depths I can’t explain. Your mother and I both do.