Celebrating that cliché of parenthood, I can’t really believe how quickly you’re growing and becoming your own person. When you and Gramma Mia took your holiday together in September, she said, “Here I was, sitting on the porch swing, having a conversation with a two-year-old.” And you really do hold up your end of the conversation.
I remember hearing the woes of the mother of a two-year-old who was tall for his age. She said that strangers expected him to act like a four-year-old — to, for instance, listen to her, not throw tantrums, say please and thank you. I fall into that trap with you, since you’re such a skilled communicator. I expect more from you than I would if you couldn’t talk to me like you do, and, usually, you give me what I expect. I do apologize for getting frustrated with you when you act, well, your age. I’m working on acting my age instead of yours when those times arise.
I showed you this photo of my Dad a few weeks ago, asking you who it was. You responded, “He walks with me.” Not only would that make a great title for my memoir, but you nailed it. I took this photo on a hike in Macedonia State Park when we were visiting Dover last Christmas. Your first real hike, of about a quarter of a mile out of the backpack, occurred a few days later, with your father, my Dad, and me. You stayed on the vague trail and shocked us with the endurance in those legs that had only been walking for three months.
Here’s the photo in its entirety, but this isn’t what I originally showed you:
Speaking of fantastic grandfathers, you’ve picked up a third grandfather here in Eugene, one who’s a remarkable father and grandfather to his own nearby and far-flung flock. Tom, with whom we canoed in October, came by on Sunday to drop off your Christmas gift, a hand-carved canoe paddle just your size and inscribed with your name. While I sat there dumbfounded by the generosity of this gift, you took it, flashed a big smile, said thank you, and proceeded to walk around with it like a staff. Good on ya.
In the last few months, you’ve really moved into the realm of your imagination. You made a chocolate ice cream cone for me at the playground today. (Aside: I had a great time with you at the playground today. You chased me around, under and through the playground structure, and you’re too little to understand that you’re supposed to get me when you chase me, so it’s nice and pleasant and low-pressure.) I walked into your classroom one afternoon to find you making “cappeine,” or “caffeine,” in the play kitchen — disclosing Mommy’s vices, free of charge.
Your inspiring teacher, Lisa, sometimes draws with your class, demonstrating how you can represent items from your world in your art. You like to paint cougar cats now — or to have me paint them. You’ve really changed quite a bit as an artist. Instead of simply experimenting with the medium, you’ve started to demonstrate design. I picked up some papier mache ornaments for you to paint for said inspiring teacher, among others, and you noticed that the ornaments were stars. You wanted to put paint on the points, rather than just smearing the paint around any which way. I can’t honestly say that it looks like you made design choices when you painted the stars, but, as with many things, the method reveals more than the result.
This morning, we sat together, you in your high chair, me in Gramma Gertrude’s yellow pantry chair, your feet resting on my knees, drinking smoothies. Cold, fruity, tangy goodness made from tangerines, last summer’s frozen strawberries, milk, and yogurt. As you enjoyed yours, I said, “You know who likes smoothies? Tephra.” You looked at me, looked down at your pink smoothie, and said “noooooo” quite vigorously. Of course you thought I was kidding. What kind of cat would climb up pant legs for a smoothie? Tephra rarely eats people food – especially after Aunt Jenny tried to give her that salt and vinegar potato chip – but she harbors a weakness for strawberries. Dried strawberries, strawberry pop tarts, Twizzlers, and strawberry smoothies. We kept drinking. You finally smiled and said, “Also, Tephra likes big antlers!”
A story from your Dad: You were putting together your alphabet puzzle, where the letter G is illustrated with a gorilla. Daddy told you that the gorilla lives in the jungle. You looked at him and said, “The quiet jungle.” For anyone not paying as much attention as you do, Sylvan, those are lyrics from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
I love you,