Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eli the Explorer - Age 3 1/2

I was given this book by a dear friend that has turned into a go-to source for you, my wild thing.  It's called, appropriately, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys.  It has opened my eyes to the world of a boy (that and Wild at Heart).  I'm not sure if you know this about me, as I sometimes appear as some androgynous figure in your life who may or may not own a razor, but I'm a girl.  I liked Barbies and sharing/eating my feelings and My So Called Life and other girly things.  So raising a boy and getting to the heart of you has been a challenge for me.  A happy challenge.  A challenge for which I am over the moon grateful and honored to be given.  But nonetheless, a challenge.  Right now, according to my Eli bible, you are in the Explorer stage.  One of the best descriptions from the text for what this stage involves is this:

 It's a time when they show greater exploring the edges of their worlds...boys make fewer trips back to the reassurance of their Explorers, boys live in their imaginations as much  or more than they do in 'reality'...their moods swing on a dime, and nothing compares to the joy that overcomes them when they make a new discovery.

If you were in a dictionary at this point in your life, this would be the definition found next to your name.  This time last year you were so fearful to leave my side, and now you are moving to the edges sans me.  You explore your world, and get very dirty in the process.  You live amongst the dirt and the grass and the rocks and the bugs.  I've told people that if I were to allow you to live outside, you would be perfectly content (as long as I provided some strong squirrel repellent).  The other day, your grandma Parker was watching you climb on anything that was a foot off the ground and commented, "he's all boy." 

 You're definitely more open to trying new experiences.  Initial timidity eases into excitement and cries of "again!" "more!" "no mommy...just me!" And then I go to weep in a corner or find something fried to eat.  You ride your bike off curbs, you climb anything that provides ulcer-inducing distance between you and the ground, you collect bugs, you pet dogs that are bigger than you (which may not seem like much, but last year a dog bigger than my toe would have sent you into a hyperventilating state of fear).  I was worried that the first day of preschool for you would have been short-lived due to not wanting to be away from me, but you looked at me and said, "You gotta run some errands?  Bye, mom."  It was a very nice way for you to tell me to leave.  So thank you.  As I drove home shaking with sobs and proving to be a hazard behind the wheel, I just kept thanking Jesus for you, my brave boy. 

Someone once told me that threes are harder than twos, and I remember thinking, "Dear God, I need to take up drinking if that's the case."  And honestly, you still have your occasional melt down, which tend to coincide with needing something to eat.  You are your mother and father's child.  But, you also seem to understand better why we've sent you to your room for said melt down.  For example, a month or so ago I had the audacity to ask you to leave your friends during a swim date before any of them had to leave.  I MADE YOU LEAVE THE POOL!!  You would have thought I told you Thomas the Train died and the police have no leads.  It was a tantrum fit for the gods.  You were hitting, you were screaming like a banshee, you were calling down a plague on my house, you switched to some foreign language, there was frothing, and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Should I go on?  So in between screams, I explained that as soon as we got home, you would need to go to your room, as your behavior was inappropriate (we use multi-syllabic words in this house, young man).  You calmed down about 5 minutes into the ride home and said in between hiccuped breaths, "I'm sorry, mommy.  I go to my room for timeout?"  After I picked up my heart that melted all over my steering column, I told you that you still needed to go to your room, but I appreciated your remorse and loved you.  "I love you too, mommy. I'm sorry I hit and screamed."  There are still melted pieces of my heart stuck to my driver's seat.  It's a beast to get out of leather.

While you don't want me as much, you have fortified an incredible relationship with your father...your go-to guy when I'm disciplining you.  Your dad is your partner in exploration, your hero during midnight nightmares, your calming voice.  I refer to your dad as the Eli-whisperer.  He gets you in a way that I don't and long to.  Your dad's patience with you is enviable.  I pray daily that I can show you the patience that your father effortlessly demonstrates.  You are his little Opie.  I am immensely grateful that my little boy has been blessed with an exceptional father.  Your dad will always be your biggest fan, no matter what (it should be an implied fact that I'm the alpha fan when it comes to you, but I suppose your dad can tie with me). 

 Your life changed in a big way last year when I brought Whitney home from the doctor (that's how you think she came into existence...the doctor was just giving her away).  It's been interesting to see your relationship with her develop.  I think that it's natural for you to feel left out or not paid as much attention.  And for this I am forever sorry.  Knowing that you sometimes feel left out makes my heart hurt.  I try to arrange Eli/Mommy dates so you know that you are and will forever be my number one guy.  Despite your occasional feelings of frustration with Whitney, you have taken on this nurturing role with her.  You protect her (sometimes with more force than I would like, but nonetheless...) and show her things that you discover and give her a toy when she starts crying and show sincere concern when she falls or hurts herself.  It's a part of your relationship with each other that I pray will continue the rest of your lives.  I hope you turn to each other when life gets stupid or to complain about your parents or to organize elaborate celebratory parties in honor of your mother.  She lights up when you walk into a room.  And I know you get frustrated with her constantly gettin up all in yo bizness, but it's because you are the moon and stars for her. 
 Finally, your humor and imagination know no bounds.  You say things that demonstrate your unique perception of your world.  One night we were talking about how Jesus is always with us.  "Where is he? He's here now?" you asked.  "Yeah, we just can't see him. But you can always talk to him."  Fast forward twenty minutes later when you were being a tad sassy.  I told you that you needed to go to your room for a few minutes, to which you replied, "Okay, I guess I'll go to my room...come on, Jesus."  So great.  Sometimes you'll make these faces just to elicit a laugh from me.  You talk like George (you know, the monkey) randomly, you break out into song, you laugh for no reason, you make me say good night to your boogers, you assign different voices to things.  You're imagination is expansive and impressive.  I love that you love to laugh, as it is one of my favorite activities.  I hope that you never lose that fun side of your personality.  You are such a clever and creative soul. 

I love everything about you, my wild thing.  You are a blessing beyond belief, and I will work my whole life to prove that to you.  Love you forever, my sweet Elijah!


Other odds-and-ends about Eli at 3 1/2:
  • You are pretty much a vegetarian, aside from a love of processed chicken.
  • You DON'T LIKE PIZZA, which has had an adverse affect on my pizza intake. 
  • You had three cavities crowned due to your love of lemons (apparently more dangerous to the enamel of your teeth than a can of coke).
  • You weigh 36 pounds.
  • You're scared of squirrels still and will tell them to "go see your mom!!!"
  • You've now traveled to Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco (the latter two by train).
  •  Your favorite shows include Curious George, Thomas, Phineas and Ferb, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Bob the Builder, Chuggington.
  • You love TV way too much (an addiction we're trying to eradicate...but let's be honest...I love TV way too much).
  • You're basically potty trained. We're still working on a couple things, but in your own time, bud, in your own time.
  • You are IN LOVE with your grandparents.
  • You are IN LOVE with your cousins.
  • Friends who you love to visit with include Benny, Bryleigh, Averi, Nolan, Jack, the other Benny, Abby, and Mia.  
  • You love meeting new people and strike up a conversation with anyone who is willing to listen. 
  • You and I have started discussing stranger danger. 
  • You laugh when you fart, which is pretty much awesome.
  • You love playing basketball.
  • You love fixing things with your tools.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Eli's First Day

Today, my little guy started preschool...and I wept uncontrollably into my pillow all night leading up to it.  He's doing two days a week, 2 1/2 hours each day of preschool at a co-op called Jack and Jill.  This is a decision with which I wrestled for months and still am wrestling...this decision and I are in a half nelson right now and we're all sweaty and gross and people are all, "just pin her, already."

Here's the inner monologue that has been running in my head about this decision:
He's just three, why send him now? Yes, but it would be great exposure to some structure and instruction from someone other than the T.V. I know, but he's going to be going to school his whole life...just wait a year.  True, but it's just two days a week, 2 1/2 hours each day. What if he hates it and cries and writes about it in his journal so that he can tell his future therapist the exact date when his mother let him down and he lost his ability to trust. Okay, what if you did a know something with which you could be involved.  Hmmm...maybe.  I don't know. What if...

So, I made the decision to enroll him in a co-op where the teacher is so incredibly wonderful that I'm sure even her farts smell like lavender and heaven.  (I hope she never reads this.) His teacher was placed on this earth to teach little 3 and 4 year olds.  I love her and will include her in my will.

He missed his first day, because he was sick (the first time he's been sick since March, but whatever).  So, today was the day. And he loved it!  He turned off the t.v. of his own volition so we could go. TURNED.IT.OFF.HIMSELF!!! And then it rained skittles.

We'll see how it goes.  That's my motto right now.  If today was any indication, I'm sure he'll be fine.