Monday, July 27, 2020

our three year old

Tommy turned two just a few days after we landed in South Korea. We were jet lagged and living out of suitcases in army lodging. We spent the day apartment hunting, all of us in a fog, sweaty and upside down. We were most definitely in survival mode. But Tommy at 2 was the ultimate little traveler, a trooper, a bundle of positive endless energy. Bouncing and running and jumping from one new thing to the next, shouting HI! to every stranger turned instant friend we'd pass. He slid right into our new normal on the other side of the world like it was no big deal trying new foods, making new friends, leading us by the hand as we spent this year exploring new places with enthusiasm, asking "what's that? where we going? what are we going to see?" And over this year I have watched his little baby quirks, silly sayings, gestures, all turn into a full rounded personality of the sweetest little boy. 

The changes from a newborn to a one year old are so physically obvious that I think I underestimated just how much my son would grow and change from 2 to 3. But this year alone he went from diapers to fully potty trained in Mickey Mouse underwear. He traded a sleepsack and his crib for sprawled out, upside down in a twin bed. He learned to ride a balance bike, take off his own socks and shoes, pull up his pants (mostly... a little hiney is sometimes still visible). He started out the year still calling me "Bobby," milk was "guk" and bananas were "bididis." I have a list of the cutuest Tommy-isms saved on my phone so I never forget the sound of his little voice saying "chin-tow-peas" (chimpanzees). But now he can count to ten, sings along to Jesus Loves Me and says, unprompted, things like "that sounds kinda like a good idea" and "oh, that's interesting" clear as day even if they're not always in the right context. 
He spent a good chunk of being two violently resisting hair cuts but finally gave in to looking more and more like his daddy. The playground at our neighborhood, that at first required countless boosts up from dad with a nervous mom hovering right below, now sees him scrambling up and over, unassisted ordering around and encouraging littler kids to go down the slide with him. Saying his prayers at bedtime evolved from just mommy repeating the little "now I lay me down to sleep" rhyme to his sweet little heart listing off everything he wants to thank God for, including every relative plus every toy he played with and piece of food he ate that day. 
Luckily even with all the new little boy changes some things remain the same. He still loves Thomas and his train friends and reading books over and over with Mommy and Daddy on the couch.  His current favorites are the classic Winnie the Pooh stories, Frog and ToadOh the Places You'll GoDear Dragon. He still takes a solid afternoon nap (most days- I'm holding strong because we both need that rest time) and sleeps nearly 12 hours at night. Boy has always loved his food and is an adventurous eater- everything from okra to octopus, bibimbap, kimchi, bulgogi.  

The biggest change to his little world was the promotion to big brother. And even though I say "too rough," "be gentle," "don't grab," "share," more times in a day than I can count, he loves his Baby Wheel. Just as I predicted, watching their relationship grow and seeing them start to actually play together as Will becomes more mobile and sturdier and able to hang is just the best part of life! 

Tommy just loves all his people, big and fierce. His little gentle spirit is so sensitive and full of empathy. He picks up on what others around him are feeling, if you're sad he'll cry too, if another kid is being a little too intense he'll come back to us for comfort and reassurance. He also throws out spontaneous "I love yous" and "mommy you're so pretty" all day long.  And the way he runs yelling "Daddy!! You're here!" when T.J. gets home from work can brighten even the strangest and hardest days of 2020. 
Next week my three year old starts school. Just two mornings a week is all this mama's heart can handle but he is so excited and every time we walk by the school he asks if it's open and can he go?  How are we here already? Wasn't I only just holding him on my chest skin to skin in that army hospital in Washington? And now he has his own pencil box? We're entering a whole new season of life and opening up the innocent, precious world we've been living in for the past three years.  Letting in new friends, new teachers, new risks but also new ways for my darling boy to find and experience all the joy and love in the world and to share his big light in return. I'm both grieving the smoothing out of his baby fat and also cheering on each new thing he seems to just wake up one day knowing. What new wonder will we see tomorrow? Bring it on Three!