And so this is five!

Dearest Spud,

You are five! I cannot quite believe it. After the detailed monthly milestones of baby-hood, the years seem less distinguished from each other, but five is a big deal! Your baby book ends at age 5, and you’ve aged out of the monthly age-based newsletters I’ve received since you were a week old. It feels like a new chapter is starting.

It has been another very odd year, and you have rolled with all the punches admirably, while learning and stretching and GROWING. You are all long limbs and lean body now, though your face still holds a hint of your chubby baby cheeks. Your hair is an unmanageable mop thanks to your numerous visits to Salon De Mama during the pandemic, and your baby curls have entirely disappeared. Your deep blue eyes have shifted this year and are much closer to green – they have amber starbursts in the middle, and they change colour depending on what shirt you are wearing. You are bright eyed and expressive, filled with energy and vim.

We started the year with a six-month-long lockdown, which you spent in the company of your sister and nanny C. You built ice cream stands and blue jay bird feeders. You played hunt-and-find games based on a colour die. You made all three adults pull you around on the sled in the snow for endless rounds of a train pulling into a station. You made outposts on the deck where you could watch for the train to arrive using your “binoclears”. You built forts out of the cushions on the couch almost every day, and gorilla cages filled with pillows took over the two cribs every week. In the spring you bug hunted assiduously, with a specific love of pill bugs and slugs, of which we are blessed with an abundance. You conquered the neighbourhood on balance bike and scooter, and started to learn to peddle a real bike (you can do it but you aren’t ready to admit it yet!). We went on a great many hikes in our region, and spent many happy mornings at local playgrounds (which were open this summer, thank goodness).

This year we managed a bit more travel, mostly in the summer. We rented a cottage for a week on a lake, which had a shallow beach that you loved to wade in, and a dock you didn’t quite screw your courage up to swim to, but ran around on if we paddle-boated you past it. You loved the cottage, and the ice cream shop in town. We also managed to visit grandparents at their houses, for indoor visits for the first time in over a year. It was wonderful to reconnect, and you really loved visiting. You always always get sick when we travel, and this year was no exception. It’s almost like a long car ride causes a fever in you! (Though it is more likely your daycare and school classes were the sources.)

Your chief love in life remains LEGO. You are, my dear boy, obsessed. You are a builder – be it LEGO, magnatiles, cardboard, or rocks, you build with it. You grew this year from putting funny, oddly constructed vehicles together to creating study, symmetrically decorated vehicles, and then started putting small kits together, then larger and larger ones. You’ve rebuilt all of the medium sized kits your father owns, and several of the larger ones. Your grandfather sent you a ridiculously-sized and over-complicated set, and you dedicated three weeks of early mornings and evenings and weekend days to it (we had to drag you away), but you built it without any real help from us – a near life-size rollercoaster that really worked. It was amazing. You are amazing.

This year you also got interested in more creative pursuits. You steal my phone and take pictures of… well, everything. My camera roll is filled with scenic tours of our house, featuring 45 photos of our couch throw cushions and 52 photos of the floors in various areas of the house. You take photos of people(‘s knees), and caught one of my favorite photos of Sprout all year. You started listening to playlists of songs on my phone too – listening quietly for as long as we’ll let you, poking my phone every ~20 seconds to make sure it doesn’t go to sleep, as you want to DJ the next song. Most recently, you have started wanting to write stories on my laptop – asking for help with spelling and giggling like a maniac as you go. Many of them involve cows and there seems to be quite a lot of YELLING (you think caps are funny).

One big change is that you started school in September! After a winter and spring unexpectedly at home, and a summer spent erratically in a daycare classroom that was filled with screaming children whom you really did not connect with, we weren’t sure how you would like school. Initially, you felt it was “like daycare but with more kids and less toys!” and you spent a lot of time sitting tucked in behind your teacher as she perched forward on her chair. About a month in, you warmed up to the whole thing, and started having a good time at school, engaging with activities, and going your own way with a bit more confidence. You have stories about the other kids in your class, and have made friends with a girl who lives down our street. You spend your time building things (no surprise), and once you have built something at the station you have chosen that day, you can be found sitting next to it on a chair, with a book. Your teacher says you are developing “good understanding of the sounds the different letters make” – which is true, but rather the tip of the iceberg.

The other thing you did this year is teach yourself to read. You started to be very interested in reading in March, and we got some early readers and companion readers from the library. Your dad spent some time with you teaching you how to sound out words and what different rules there were about how letters can go together. Then it seemed like you lost interest – you didn’t want to read to us and you refused to guess at words. But you took easy books you had memorized into your room at quiet time, and would sit with them, staring at the pages. Every so often, we’d get a hint of your progress – you’d ask me about something on a t-shirt, or laugh at a pun on a new mug. Once I gave you a Chirp on the drive to daycare, and, because I wasn’t looking, you read me the table of contents, which we never bother reading. Today, the day you turned five, you read a birthday card aloud, and then read us all the jokes that were in our Christmas birthday crackers. It was a real leap forward from what I’d seen before – “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?” giggling “A stick!”. I didn’t know you even knew what a boomerang was! I kept handing you a new joke, and you would read it out without hesitation. I remain amazed, but also delighted. If I can instill in you the same love of reading I have, it will keep you growing until school catches up to challenge you – and maybe keep you from being too bored when they review the alphabet twice over again in SK next year.

Spud, you are a character. You wear your shirts inside out, your underwear and pants are on backwards most days (on purpose) and you insist on putting your pajama pants on your head as a hat. The other day I was worried you were getting sick because your face was flushed – but then discovered you had 5(!) shirts on! You morph into “Dups” and insist we are also all the backwards versions of ourselves (I’m Amam). You have your own way of doing things, and the absurdity of them makes you giggle, which makes us giggle along with you. You don’t want to do anything independently until you can do it perfectly, so teaching you new things is a slow, gentle process, but once you have it down, you are highly reliable and capable. We’ve learned to give you space to consider things, but offer small nudges to keep you moving.

You are a loving if frustrated, generous if overly rough big brother, and your sister adores you. You two are very different little beings, and I know you will find a way to coexist eventually – in the meantime, we’re here to help restore stolen toys (in either direction), and quell madcap chasing games just before someone starts crying, not always successfully.

Spud, you make me smile every day with your jokes and puns and quirky view of the world. You are stubborn but snuggly, calm until you are not, and a wise old soul. Your smile is one of my most cherished things in life, as it is earned, not given.

I love you Spud, a million and a ton, to the moon and back. Happy birthday.

2 thoughts on “And so this is five!

  1. Dana

    This is such a beautiful description of your son! I was just catching up on your recent posts (occasional lurker sorry) and your son reminds me a lot of my son. You mentioned considering having him tested or evaluated and I did want to say that some of what you describe could be signs of autism. This isn’t necessarily considered a big deal any more since the spectrum is very broad, but if you are looking to find resources or suggestions on understanding him or having his evaluated that might be a place to start. There’s also strong overlap with autism and seizures in case you want to explore how the diagnosis fits your daughter. They sound like wonderful, independent kids!

  2. rose

    What a wonderful descriptive statement about a grand boy. He is clearly going to become s very special man. Well done!


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