Oh my sweet boy, where do I even begin? The three years since your birth have been the most challenging and the most joy-filled years of my life. There have been times when I have been frustrated to the point of tears, but still when I look at your face I can feel nothing but love. You have this hold on my heart unlike anything I have ever known.
Last weekend we celebrated your 3rd birthday, even though it was a few days early. We had a Cars party at the park, where you and your friends got to play in the wading pool and fountains. Your Grandma and Aunt Tanya made your cake because they seem to think that homemade cakes are much better than store bought. It is a good thing they are around to do things like that for you since baking isn’t exactly my specialty. You were so excited when you saw the cake that you somehow managed to fall…right onto the cake. Only your hand landed on the cake, but it still did a bit of damage. Fortunately it was still in the box and Grandma was able to somewhat rescue the icing that got messed up, but I was a little sad that I didn’t get a picture of it before the mishap.
While we sat at the park enjoying the sunshine with family and friends, I though about all the changes you have been through in the last year. Some have been easy for you. Others have been very, very hard. You went from a small home day care into a school setting. We took away your noonie (pacifier), which seemed to trigger the night terrors that you had for nearly three months afterward. Then there was the potty training. You finally figured that out just in time for your little sister to arrive and shake your world up again. And finally, we switched you back to another home day care, where you seem to be much more settled. That’s a lot of big changes in a short period of time.
Between all of the major life changes and the “Terrible Two’s” it has been a very challenging year. I’ve seen behaviors that I never thought my kid would have. I’ve tried everything I can thing of to combat those behaviors and I still haven’t found anything that will work with you. You are a very strong-willed child, unlike any other I’ve ever met. I’ve resorted to spanking you more times that I like to admit and often ended up in tears of frustration on my way to work in the mornings because of it. We’ve tried time-outs, rewards for good behavior, and every other tactic I can think of but nothing ever seems to really work. I know it is ridiculous, but I just keep thinking that someday, somehow, I will find a way to get through to you.
Despite our many battles, you are still able to charm the pants off of me. You are such a little comedian and absolutely love to make your dad and I laugh. You are constantly saying silly things just to see what kind of reaction you can get. I have a feeling you are going to be quite the class clown when you get older. When you think you are being funny you get this little twinkle in your eyes and smile so big that I can’t help but to laugh. The latest phrase you have picked up is “Hey, come on now guys!” which is usually said in protest of something and is more often than not followed up by “Just a couple minutes!”, but I still find it to be so darn cute that it usually gets a chuckle anyway.
It sometimes amazes me that you can remember so much of what you hear. You can quote many of the lines from your favorite movies and only need to hear a few notes of a song before you can tell me what it is. And of course you love to repeat anything and everything that your Daddy says. Sometimes you surprise me by repeating things that I didn’t even know you heard, which means that your dad and I need to start being a little more careful about what we say in front of you. The worst part is when I realize you are picking up bad habits that I didn’t even know I had. It is only when I try to figure out where you get it from that I realize you got it from me.
Zach, you are getting so big now. Instead of a baby or toddler, I now have to say I have a little boy. You have your own thoughts and opinions about things and they don’t always coincide with mine. That’s something that we both need to get used to. The best part of it though is that we can carry on actual conversations together (even if they are mostly about your race cars). Some of my favorite times with you right now are when we are in the car on the way to or from day care. Without the distraction of TV or toys, you let your mind wander and we have some very interesting conversations. You often ask about the elementary school playground that we pass and I always have to tell you that you can play there when you get bigger. Well son, you are getting bigger and bigger every day, and no matter how much I wish I could slow it down, before long you will be playing on that playground – without Mommy there to protect you.
The one thing I hope you’ll always remember – whether you’re on that playground or off at college – is that your Mommy is always here for you and will always love you, no matter what.