Dear Connor: Year Nine-and-a-Half

I wouldn’t normally post a Dear Connor letter for your half-birthday… but I didn’t post one for your ninth birthday, and 2020 was definitely NOT a normal year, so I don’t want to just skip it.

I suspect that someday, when you’re older and you look back on being eight years old, Second Grade will seem like a big blur of video games and remote schooling, with the occasional, “Wait, that happened when I was eight, too?”

Photo: Connor and Grammy playing a card game in Florida

I can remember pretty clearly being eight and nine years old, and it’s weird thinking about how I perceived myself when I was your age, versus how I see you now. You have a lot of the same curiosity and know-it-all attitude as I did, but you’re way crazier and more outgoing.

In the fall, you took a test that qualified you for the gifted program at school. You said that the 90 minutes of testing was a “nightmare,” which amused the teacher who was administering the test. It was a standard, old-school Scantron multiple choice test… but you’re used to tests on the computer, and you’re NOT used to testing for a couple of hours straight.

Now that you’re in GATE, you wish you weren’t, and you want to quit. You see it as busywork that takes you away from the things you’d rather be doing, like being social with your classmates. Luckily, once you qualify, you’re never disqualified; even if we decide that the enrichment activities in the elementary grades aren’t for you, you’ll still be able to enroll in the accelerated classes later on — and that’s really what matters to me. I wish they offered accelerated classes in the elementary grades, like I had at your age, but the program is what it is.

You have a very defined hierarchy of Things You’d Rather Be Doing. Most of those involve television or video games. Eating is pretty far down the list, but riding bikes with Dad used to be on the list (until you wore out your training wheels).

Reading for pleasure is something you only do when you have no other options: before bed, or during your scheduled reading time in the afternoon. This is completely foreign to me, as I read voraciously when I was as a kid — to be fair, though, I did love going to my best friend’s house to play Atari, and I would have done more gaming if I’d had my own console.

I know I tell you this a lot, but I’m really proud of you. You’ve stuck with karate for 2½ years. You always want to make people laugh. You’re secure in who you are.

You’re still only 9½, of course, so you still have a lot of growing and maturing to do… but you’re pretty awesome, all things considered.

Wesley and Connor

Dear Connor: Year Eight

Dear Connor,

I’m going to be honest with you: it’s kind of rough being your Mom lately.

Except when it’s not, of course.

Dad and Connor on the shuttle bus for the Black Swamp Arts Festival

I guess I’ve been putting off finishing this post because, while I want to document and remember everything, your behavior and our reactions to it have been at the forefront of my mind lately, and I don’t want to taint this entire missive with my current frustration level. Overall, it’s been a really good year — it’s just in the past couple of months that things have kind of tanked, and I think I can see a light at the end of this behavior tunnel.

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Dear Connor: Five-and-a-Half

I always write these in the second person — to you, Connor — with the intention of you reading them at some point in the future. Maybe when you’re old enough to understand what a blog is, or maybe when I assemble them into a print volume someday.

If I wanted to explain to you what a blog was, though, you could probably read most of this on your own right now, with not much help. (Although you’d get bored of reading so many words without pictures.)

You know about the internet a little. You know that we can buy things from the internet (Amazon), and you know that we can ask the internet questions (Google), and you know that I like to post pictures to Instagram, and that Pusheen the cat has an Instagram account. Someday, you’re going to need access to the internet for school, and your Dad and I are totally going to be those annoying parents who won’t let you have a Facebook page (or whatever the new hotness will be in the year 2020) and who will totally monitor your internet usage and your phone and everything.

But let’s not jump forward too fast. You’re already doing a good enough job of that.

Connor in a Blazer

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Dear Connor: Year Five

Dear Connor,

0806-blue35mm-15

I usually try to post these missives closer to your birthday… but, to be honest, I really haven’t been feeling like writing lately. My prime writing time (not counting breaks at work) is generally after you go to bed, but bedtimes have been so unpleasant lately that I don’t want to do anything after that but curl up in a ball and watch TV or play on my phone.

Sometimes I wonder if your Dad and I have erred somehow in our discipline strategy. Your defiant and willful attitude has escalated over the past few months, and bedtimes especially have become exercises in patience and punishment.  Continue reading

Dear Connor: Three-and-a-Half

Dear Connor,

Posing for the Camera

The difference between three and three-and-a-half is more noticeable than I would have thought.

You speak in complete sentences now, and we can understand 90% of what you say the first time — 95% if we ask you to repeat yourself. You are practicing the art of negotiation (which is adorable and infuriating at the same time). You’re daytime potty-trained now (mostly thanks to daycare).

Once you were daytime potty-trained, that meant you were ready to leave Ms. Jill’s Toddler Two room in January and move up to Ms. Lindsey’s preschool classroom!

Connor by his preschool's door
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