Dear Connor: Four-and-a-Half

Dear Connor,

We take you next week for your first screening for early entrance into Kindergarten. It feels like we’re on the cusp of a big change — or maybe we’re in the middle of it right now.

giant on the stairs

I’m not sure what your reading level is, officially (I’d guess you’re probably at a 1st Grade level, honestly), but you can easily read the titles of most books, and the titles of Team Umizoomi episodes on Amazon, and you could read entire books if you wanted to. Thing is, you’d rather I read aloud to you. I’m not sure what to make of that — but I hope that, as you start to feel more comfortable with reading, you decide to read on your own more often.

Simon

You’ve moved up from preschool to pre-K, thanks to your improved behavior — that, plus a spot opened up when another child left in January. Your new pre-K teacher, Ms. Jodi, uses positive reinforcement (the Treasure Chest!) rather than negative (moving your name to Yellow or Orange when you get a warning), and it seems to be working out well. Ms. Jodi’s start at your school happened the same week that we moved your bedtime up a half hour, so I’m not sure which made the most impact on your behavior, but I’m glad you’re focusing better and listening to instructions more closely now.

Pre-k

You’re really into figuring out how things work. You “built” your own “car” out of pillows and slippers and books and your Kindle Fire tablet, and everything had a purpose. Your car was different from other cars because the steering wheel and pedals were in the back, and kids got to sit in the front. You even had a gearshift and you knew what all letters were on it and what they meant — you told me that “N” is for if you get stuck in the grass and need to be pushed out.

(A month or so after this, your babysitter, Missy, told us that she explained all the dials and gauges on her car’s dashboard to you during her visit, and that you were totally enthralled.)

Playing car

Daddy hooked up the Nintendo recently, and you love watching one of us play, although you’re not really into playing it yourself. Daddy’s better at most games than I am, but I’m really awesome at Dr. Mario, I can hold my own in Super Mario Bros, and I’m getting the hang of Kirby’s Adventure. Maybe someday you’ll try playing a two-player game with one of us.

Nintendo

You also like to plan elaborate birthday parties for your stuffed animal friends. –Well, maybe not super elaborate, but you use smaller stuffed animals as cake, and books for tables, and pillowcases for tablecloths, and your slippers for napkins. You had a similar setup for your “restaurant,” which you dubbed Pizza Pie-Up, and set up both in your bedroom during quiet time and in the living room at different times. (Unfortunately, the first time you set up your restaurant in your room, you filled up about a dozen Dixie cups full of water in the bathroom and brought them into your room and set them up underneath the chair. Not appropriate, buddy.)

Pizza Pie-Up

That’s something else: you’ve become quite stealthy and sneaky. Daddy’s been having to close Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom during quiet time on Daddy Days, so you don’t waltz in and start playing with our stuff: tearing the pupil off of my special catbus that Daddy got me, or hiding my lip balm, or putting the door stop in my bedside table, or taking my Totoro off of my dresser. You’ll also set up camp in the hallway during quiet time if we aren’t paying attention.

I get the feeling that actual naps during quiet time are on the way out. Daddy still needs one on Daddy Days, since he goes to bed at 4:30am and gets up with you just after 9, but at least you’ve been pretty quiet for that, even if you aren’t actually napping. You need the sleep, though — hence why we moved up your bedtime by a half hour.

We wonder sometimes if you aren’t sleeping during quiet time because you don’t want to have an accident. You haven’t worn diapers since you turned four, but we put you in either pull-ups or nighttime underwear (with a built-in spot for a disposable pee-pad) at night. You were doing really well for a good stretch there, but you’ve kind of backslid on staying dry at night. We’re not pushing it, though. It’s just an inconvenience to have to do a load of laundry every other day when you leak out of your nighttime underwear. Hooray for your mattress cover and the wetness shield we scammed from the hospital when you were born.

haircut

One morning recently before I left for work on a Daddy Day, as we were in your room saying our goodbyes, you asked me, “Is it OK if I don’t wave goodbye today?” You’ve asked me that before, but you’ve still poked your head through the blinds and waved goodbye as I put the car in reverse to drive away. We wave, sign “I love you,” blow kisses, and give the thumbs-up — which you’ve told me actually means, “I love you even when you’re gone.”

That day, you didn’t wave. I looked up at your window, and you weren’t there.

Then I started to wonder: have I waved my last Daddy-Day Goodbye to Connor? What other things will we never do again? Carrying you up the stairs? Playing in the tub? Singing you a lullaby? Sitting together in your play tent?

As it happens, you just really had to poop. By the time you made it back to your window, I was already gone.

Funny, isn’t it? We were both worried that the other one didn’t want to wave goodbye.

Waving goodbye

Like I said earlier, it really feels like we’re in the midst of a big change. You’re definitely not a toddler anymore, and you act more like a big boy every day, it seems. You throw fewer tantrums, and they don’t last as long (thankfully). You’re very concerned about our happiness, and you like to do things to make our smiles bigger, like giving us hugs or tickles. You’re reading, and problem-solving, and drawing conclusions, and carrying on real conversations with us, and your imagination is more vivid than ever before.

I can see so many of my own personality traits in you — and so many of your Dad’s, too. You’re a perfectionist (like me), and frequently won’t even try something if you’re concerned that you might mess it up — like reading a whole book aloud, or playing a video game. (That’s one you get from both of us, I think.) You’re also quick to frustration (like your Dad) when you can’t make something work right. I just hope that you glean some of our more positive traits over time, too, like your Dad’s perseverance and tenacity in things that interest him, or my calm and methodical problem-solving skills.

Whether you get accepted to kindergarten early or not, you’re still my big boy. I love you so much, and I’m so proud of you.

Pita Pit

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